Not having a camera during a music festival can be a real drag. I made the best of what I had by utilizing my previously unused camera phone, but I’ve been a walking disaster since last week, and today I managed to break my cell phone as well. I fully expect to break my guitar at my gig tomorrow. Over my own head. Tired…still so incredibly tired….
SXSW is different for all types of attendees, and after attending as a music journalist for the last three, I really am looking forward to being a spectator or band member next year. While ’08 was my best South By Southwest music festival yet, it was also been a draining one. Interview after interview, broken up by meeting with publicists and filming shows, it feels like I hardly saw any music; Incredible, given the 1,800 bands and 70 venues that buzzed and clattered as I made my way to the next assignment. I think i saw 5 bands total that I was not actually working on in some way.
That’s why on Saturday night, I cut loose loosey-goosey. Bonkers mad drunk. I managed to worm myself and Brit Unicorn past the lines to catch Two Gallants and a bit of Tokyo Police Club (where double Stoli Redbulls were $8, $14 and $12 depending on which bartender you wound up with) before heading to the Promised Land where American Spirit Cigarettes were being given away two packs at at time and free vodka flowed like the whores out of a crumbling Babylon.
I am a people person, and instead of badge-snooping for Spin hotshots and BBC personalities who I heard were in the herd, i ended up doing what I do every SXSW: finding a group of Austinites and shooting the shit about music while getting pissed. I remember Colin having a sweet handlebar moustache, some girl with a big booty named Ann freaking me, and encouraging some random dude to sign his name on my arm, all while spouting Bill Hicks quotes and being affable drunk Spencer.
Then I noticed Sweden’s Soundtrack of Our Lives setting up. It would prove to be the most epic set I had witnessed at SXSW, if not ever. Okay, so my cameraphone is less than ideal, but I did get a few snaps as I was right up front, thighs against the stage.
Pretty much stationed right underneath Ebbot Lundberg’s impressive rock tummy. Restrainign myself from reaching up and patting it.
I felt the show so hard, hanging on Ian Person’s unbelievable rock moves. Inspirational. He’s got moves like my dog’s got fleas. How is it that Scandinavian rock bands know how to rock about 100 times harder than most American and British rock bands? I was awestruck with TSOOL’s set, a heady brew of psychedelic trippiness and kick-out-the-jams face melting. Honestly, I’d seen the band at Curiosa from about 50 yards back, but being right up front was way more than 50 yards better. Don’t do the math.
My video camera was on the fritz. My digital camera was broken. My brain was scrambled and my hands were in the air, making continuous rock gestures. I spilled drinks on the leather jacket-clad rockers behind me. I grabbed random drinks off stage when mine was empty. The rock took over and I became my alter ego. Before I knew it, Buck Knuckle leaned over to Synthesis editor James Barone and said something like “I think this is their last song,” before grabbing the monitors and hoisting myself onstage, making a mad dash for the free tambourine over by Fredrik Sandsten’s drum kit. I smacked that damn instrument for all its worth, and when the song was over I escaped into the VIP section to retrieve another drink, getting nods of approval from, well, the VIPs I suppose. I doubt I was nonchalant about it. One guy did say something about ‘thanks for runing the show,’ but envy-green wasn’t a good color for him. “Mmmm, how witty, you must be a writer for Spin, mmmmm…” I condescended back.
The Soundtrack of Our Lives set was then over, but the band decided on an encore and made their way back out on stage, with Ian and Martin beginning the song in a soft manner. (For the record, I am not a TSOOL expert, so I have no idea about track names and was too drunk to find out or care. I just know that I felt the rock like never before.) As Frederik began clicking his sticks to a Latin-flavored rhythm, I had to get back on stage, knowing full well I was pressing my luck.
But I had plenty of luck to be pressed. I sauntered back on stage and grabbed the free tambourine again, making eye contact with their mildly concerned drummer. It wasn’t the easiest rhythm, so he began mouthing me the hits. I followed him, and once I had it down Frederik pushed the overhead mic over to me to play into. From then it was on. My hand was so bruised because, well, drunken tambourine players show no mercy. I shook that thing in the way you should NEVER shake a baby. I was throwing high kicks in there, earning a shit-eating grin from the Townsend-dressed Mattias BÃ¤rjed who i was situated behind.
I don’t think I was too off, either. Of course, given my state I can’t be certain. All I know is that for two songs I was a member of The Soundtrack of Our Lives for the closing set of SXSW 2008, and it felt perfect.
Of course by then Ryan, who got great shots of the band earlier in the set, had taken off. So I have no photo evidence of my moment in the sun. If anyone was there at the Soundtrack of Our Lives Saturday late night Spin/American Spirit party and got photos of the band with that random long-haired dude who decided to jump up on stage and play tambourine, please, PLEASE send them to:
gorgeousarmadapresents (at) gmail [d0t] com
I’m trying to find new ways to both stoke out my bandmates and make my mother feel mortified. Thank you.