17 March 2008

EF On The Road: SXSW Edition

It’s been a while since we rapped at you, and since our last edition we made the not-so-far drive from Waco to Austin and into the Heart of Darkness itself, South By Southwest. As the recent flood of show recaps and pics might suggest, we saw heaps of music over the last five days, yet this recap is less about that (that's what our other posts are for) and more about the odds and ends going down since the last update.

In the interest of not boring you too much, we’ve broken this down into different subjects - or “talking points” - rather than a straight play-by-play because honestly, if we did that it would be something to the effect of “saw show, took pictures, drank beer” on endless repeat. So here we go:

Registration. Determined to avoid a repeat of CMJ registration difficulties, we uploaded badge pics of ourselves in advance with the hopes of expediting the whole check-in process. Such foresight proved only to complicate things further, as the SXSW minions put the wrong picture on my badge. Check out “Grumpy Fake Mike Stunt Double” after the jump...

And, before I could even walk inside the Austin Convention Center to pick up my impostor badge, we first had to face one of the most difficult aspects of navigating SXSW: finding parking. After circling the building a handful of times, we decided to trade off running inside to get our badges while the other person kept circling. On my stint as getaway driver I had a chance to get a bit of a feel for things while cruising around the premises, gasping with horror at what would be the first of many enormous lines (at the FADER Fort) and getting accustomed to the distinct sound that would characterize our time there, a jumbled stew of muffled rumblings from about four different PA systems all bleeding out into the street and mixing together.

Commute. Having learned our lesson with the impossibility of parking at registration, we vowed to only walk from our hotel to the venues downtown for the duration of the festival if we could help it. As we saw it, we were hearty New Yorkers used to walking dozens of city blocks on a given day. Ten blocks is ten blocks, right? Well, yes, and also absolutely not. The commute was roughly "ten blocks" plus a few lateral avenues but these "blocks" were definitely longer than New York blocks. That in itself is fine, but factor in our walking path being the shoulder of Interstate 35 and the commute suddenly became significantly more daunting. Cars would whizz by and yell shit at us (where was my stunt double when I needed him?) and the heat from the highway was kind of unbearable; I saw one of those time and temperature signs on a bank read 95 degrees on Friday while walking into town. Matt actually took video footage of our entire walk home (a smidge over 26 minutes) from Saturday night. Future bonus EF material alert?

Making Friends. As Matt mentioned in our R.E.M. show recap, Dead Confederate and EF came together like Murtaugh and Riggs during Day 1 of the festival. The guys were nice enough to let us tag along with them for the day and shoot a bunch of footage of what - to this point - was the biggest day in their career: opening for R.E.M. at Stubb's. I think we may have been more nervous than they were. In any case, we had a blast and are eager for them to venture into Yankee territory this spring to keep the good times going. Some other people we tried to befriend (with varying levels of success):

Michael Stipe - Okay, so we were too star-struck to actually approach him but Matt has photographic proof that we were within a few feet of him backstage.

Jim James - I wish this were an interesting story but it basically just involved me cornering him after last call following the Tapes 'n Tapes show late Saturday and trying to convince him how sincerely, honestly, no, like for real, how much I really am looking forward to My Morning Jacket's Radio City show in New York in June. He was very nice about all the attention, nice and probably very scared.

Brian Posehn - Matt accosted his fellow metalhead (and hilarious comic) in line at the Torche show Saturday night. He's been remarkably tight-lipped about the whole exchange, which makes me suspect a deep connection was made...

Shirtless dude potentially on hallucinogens walking down Interstate 35 - The commute into town is bad enough, but when you're shirtless and running as fast as you can and jumping from embankments and rolling around on the grassy shoulder of the highway screaming to yourself and no on in particular, we imagine you could use a friend. We tried our best to help him.

A Word About Booze. Why were all the free booze offered during the day parties and not during the night? Wouldn't the opposite make more sense? You would think so, but no. During the day - and by day I mean starting at noon - everything from beer to Bloody Marys to Screwdrivers to Dewars on the rocks were free and for the taking depending on where you were. Scotch at noon? No thank you. Honestly, it was harder to score a bottle of water at some of these daytime events than a tumbler of Scotch. Factor in the scorching sun overhead and suddenly you've got a nice drowsy headache to go with your farmer's tan. I'm actually surprised I didn't come across more crazy shirtless dudes sprinting down the highway at midday.

As a final note, on the last night (Saturday) we headed back to the hotel at a reasonable hour after watching Goes Cube's showcase. We ended up watching that MSNBC special called "The Mind of Manson" on TV. It occurred to me then that Charles Manson - all long-haired, thickly bearded and covered in tattoos in a tight sweatshirt - looked pretty much exactly like every SXSW participant we came across. At least more so than whoever is on my badge....

UPDATE To This Update: We meant to get this posted earlier this morning but some weird technical stuff was happening on Blogger (we think our Tom Tom nav system was somehow behind it, she's been giving us a whole lot of attitude lately). Anyway, we had to hit the road in order to make our final BBQ lunch with Skatterman & Snug Brim in Kansas City (best meal yet?) and haven't gotten to a computer until now. Hope you enjoyed the belated update, we'll have a proper wrap-up when we return to New York.


ARTIFACT said...

Best post yet and I have read a lot! Thank you for giving your readers an inside look. I'm jealous but taking notes for next year.

Anonymous said...

Awesome recap! But I can't help but think you guys are holding back on the real dirt. Come on! Which B list celebrity pooped their pants at a Vampire Weekend show? The lead singer of which band turned out to only be 16, lying about his age to score beer and chicks? How many SxSW fest-goers were packin heat? I expect a full update come monday. Safe travels!