"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


sxsw day two

Sometimes my world is a little too small. Do you ever get the sense that everyone you know knows everyone else you know? This happens to me all the time, and it gets pretty bizarre. Case in point: last night in line at Mohawk, the guy in front of me and I were talking about SXSW and his work with a record label, and he mentions that he's from a small town in western Oklahoma. Long story short, it turns out he knows my college Model UN partner, because, well, how many people are there in most small towns in western Oklahoma?

It's a good thing we made friends, because he and I and the four guys from Seattle who were behind me were in line for awhile. Mohawk has, without question, the worst door management I've ever seen at SXSW. One guy was checking ID's and handing out wristbands, and then they were actually bothering to scan all the wristbands and badges (most venues don't even bother). Result: we didn't get inside until halfway through Besnard Lakes' set, which is what I had come to see. We were along the fence, which was pretty much destroyed by everyone pulling apart the pieces of plastic so we could see the act -- and the half-empty venue. It was incredibly frustrating. I hope that Mohawk gets its act together. Quickly.

Anyway, Besnard Lakes was cool. Ethereal indie rock, Canadian wunderkids, etc., I'm sure you'll be able to read about it on Pitchfork. I just wish I'd gotten to see the whole set up close.After that, the Bad Historian wanted to experience South-by for the first time, so I picked him up and we went down to La Zona Rosa, took one look at the line, and headed back downtown. We ended up at Buffalo Billiards, which has a really cool upstairs venue I'd never seen, to see Jesse Sykes. I ended up talking to a former music critic for the Dallas Observer (How he came to no longer be employed there was a pretty entertaining story; apparently, the corporate overlords didn't like it when he referred to some of Dallas' clubs as cesspools in a swamp, or something like that.) . He'd been to Africa and wanted to talk about my t-shirt (which reads "I'm famous in Congo Kinshasa.") All this goes to prove my theory that you meet the most interesting people at SXSW, so long as you're willing to talk to strangers.

Anyway, the Bad Historian and I weren't really familiar with Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, but we mostly enjoyed the set. I generally avoid the girls-who-don't-shave-their-underarms-with-guitars kind of music, but Sykes knows how to rock. She's better when she's singing fast-paced songs; the slow, "pretty" stuff was mostly grating.

We stuck around to see what we would think of Seattle's Aqueduct. Their first two songs were awesome; they started with the Walker, Texas Ranger theme song (that's the horrible quality video, above), then moved into their hilarious band theme song. But it was all downhill from there, and I was exhausted, so we headed home. Things will really be intense today and I'm trying to pace myself.



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