It’s almost been a week since I departed Houston for Austin and the live music mecca that is South by Southwest, yet it still feels like I’m recovering. It’s mostly the severe seasonal allergies, but the journey wore me out, like it does every year, but like every year, I had a blast and saw some awesome live music. A few days prior were spent in back in Houston with good friend and fellow photographer, Ariel Zambelich from the Bay Area. She took off for Austin Wednesday and I came up with some friends Thursday afternoon.
After getting our bearings upon arrival Thursday, we headed downtown and prepared to attend the Pure Volume House party that night which featured music from Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes fame, Rival Schools and Andrew WK. The show was free via RSVP and even though several members of our crew weren’t on the list, we had no trouble getting passes and getting in. In addition to the live music, Taco Bell was on site handing out endless free tacos and burritos and there was an open bar as well. The stage collapsed halfway during Travis McCoy’s DJ set which forced the show to move onto the floor, DIY-style. Rival Schools were amazing and Andrew WK was amazing as well. The show ended around 5:30am and was a great end to night 1.
Day 2 began with an impromptu portrait session with Ariel and her OhDangMag crew. Afterwards, we caught some jams from The Watson Twins at the Relix Magazine party and then headed over to the annual Shirts For a Cure day show at Red 7. Every year the foundation hosts a handful of awesome bands and this year was no different with sets from, The Riverboat Gamblers, Strike Anywhere, Rival Schools, Fucked Up, Recover, Circa Survive and 7 Seconds. It was great getting to see the guys in Strike Anywhere again. We shared several dates on a tour with those guys about 10 years ago and they are still going strong. Good Stuff. After the Shirts For a Cure showcase, Ariel and I headed to a nearby church where Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids fame was set to open an official showcase featuring Jakob Dylan. When the doors of the sanctuary opened about 30 or so people filed into the small, yet beautiful place filing only the first several rows of pews. Most of the early crowd was there to see Jakob Dylan, and hear his solo stuff (which I might add is no where near as awesome as The Wallflowers stuff!) It was hands down one of the coolest Matt Pryor solo shows ever. After that showcase we really didn’t have too much of a plan. We wandered the streets a bit, and finished the night up by checking out a late set by Minus The Bear.
I started day 3 by spending a good bit of time browsing the annual Flatstock show at the Austin Convention Center. Every year the best poster artists from around the country gather to display their latest work. I am a huge fan of poster art, silk screens and amazing design, so naturally this place is like heaven for me. I make it a point every year to visit and pick up a few things that inspire me. After Flatstock I headed to Ace’s Lounge for a day showcase featuring Hey Champ, Bad Rabbits, et al. Both bands were amazing live and I ended up catching a few others that were pretty impressive as well. After that showcase I headed over the Levis Fader Fort and hung out there for a bit. I saw Adrian Grenier of Entourage fame and caught an exciting performance by Sleigh Bells before the headliner, Bone Thugs In Harmony finished up the night. I wasnt too fond of the music of Sleigh Bells, but frontwoman, Alexis Krauss was a fun performer and helped me make some decent photos (see photo above). As a long time fan of the Cleveland rappers, I am a bit biased, but Bone Thugs really performed well. They managed to knock out all of their hits without playing even 1 song off their forthcoming album. This may be because they were missing 2 of their members, but even so, the set was solid. Click here to see all 5 parts of the Bone Thugs In Harmony set at the Levis Fader Fort.
The rumors of Jay-Z, MIA, and others secretly performing after Bone Thugs were squashed when the loudspeaker announced that the Fort was officially closed, but our night was not over yet. We headed to the annex at Emo’s and walked right into the Fat Wreck showcase. We were in time to see Dead to Me play, but were really there to witness what took place afterwards. The bill listed “Cokie The Clown” which everyone knew was Fat Mike of NOFX fame. Additional rumors were that NOFX (the full band) would play during this slot, however NOFX did not play. In their place was Fat Mike, dressed as a clown, performing a handful of acoustic songs and telling some of the most disturbing and awkward stories that anyone could tell. It would take me too long to explain what happened next, but click here to see the epic ending to the set. Hint: It involves Fat Mike tricking the audience into drinking his urine.
An early visit for some of the best breakfast tacos at Juan In A Million opened up our Sunday followed by a tired drive back to Houston. Another amazing SXSW in the books. I remember sweating like crazy in a t-shirt and shorts during last year’s SXSW journey, this year was a bit different with temperatures in the 20’s on Saturday night and everyone struggling to bundle up and stay warm. Regardless, each year there is a new twist, new epic sets, and new artists to discover. Each year, I set out to really photograph a ton and make a huge body of work, but each year ends the same in that I spend the majority of my time hanging out with friends and appreciating the good jams, and I wouldnt have it any other way. I did manage to make some decent photos though. Check them out below.