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SXSW Diary - Wednesday, March 15


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Fresh Kills at HeadhuntersFirst I dropped by Antone’s just in time to watch Damon McMahon walk off the stage and give 'im a quick Texas howdy. Next I hiked down the strip o'sports bars, finding myself in extended street conversations with long lost friends from all over. Though I didn’t really get to hear any music until late, I still wound up witnessing a bunch of amazing shows.

I fell into Headhunters to meet my friend Dave Bourbon just in time for Brooklyn’s Fresh Kills as they started rolling into a set of pure hellbent intensity. Members of The Giraffes claimed the front of the stage, singing along at points as the Kills played every song as if it was their last. Not only did I notice that the quintessential Austin doorman, Matt Looney, had finally moved behind the bar, but I had the pleasure of running into a handfull of my favorite local faces from way back when.Greg Ashley of Gris Gris at Club Deville

After that I followed my plan to check out one of my favorite bands going, Gris Gris, at Club DeVille. While I saw Greg Ashley and gang setting up, it was just a teaser - the entire band was backing Birdman labelmate Brian Glaze. After a short break, I wandered back in for a typically amazing Gris Gris performance. The lighting under the tent was a bit too bright and didn’t quite lend to the atmosphere but the mighty Gris Gris triumphed - starting out on a garagey foot and gradually intensifying into a rawer yet more musically dimensional take on Spaceman 3. Totally informal, psychedelic, and real. They also get points 'cause I have a warm spot for Houston bands triumphing - even if they have to go to Cali to do it.

The Punkaroos at Headunters!While a number of folks fled to parties, I stayed true to my plan to check out the Punkeroos and then GoGoGo Airheart. The Punkaroos, again at Headhunters, were nothing less than five legendary punk rockers who’ve all been doing the right thing alone and together in all kinds of incarnations and projects for more than two-and-a-half decades – Buff and Pat (the rhythm section from the Dicks), Dottie and Mark from Randy “Biscuit” Turner’s (R.I.P.) Swine King (and before that Jaws of Life and many more), and Todd from The Shoulders. If you don't know who at least some of these folks are, I imagine you need to brush up a little on your Texas punk rock history. Pounding the audience with an onslaught of both ancient Austin anthems and originals, they tore through it hard and heavy. I'm both surprised and thrilled to have gotten a chance to see this and was reminded just how much love and admiration I have for these folks.

GoGoGo Airheart and Subtitle at Room 710 - GSL ShowcaseWhile most people probably wouldn’t have been able to take any more, I still made it down to check out San Diego’s GoGoGo Airheart at Room 710. GoGoGo again did not disappoint. They were already banging by the time I walked in and didn’t let up – even after they were told to stop – and then even after they turned the house lights on. The highlight of the set, and the perfect cap on my evening, was a defiantly long and soulful dubby jam featuring noneother than Gold Standard Labs' weird rap king Subtitle.

I love to complain, but tonight I got everything that I expected and much more from a bunch of my favorite artists - everyone was magnificent and it was quite an experience going door to door to find the best bands in the land going at it with all of their hearts and souls. The bittersweet truth of it all was that I found my taste more obscure than I imagined - there was plenty of room, no lines, and no trouble getting in at any of the shows. A lot of folks missed out - but perhaps best they stay at the big shows? Either way, I totally got the fix I’ve been craving for a long time.


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