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Picture for SXSW: Thursday (Day 2), Part 1

SXSW: Thursday (Day 2), Part 1

Thursday morning started off right with a delivery from Maria's Taco Express, an Austin landmark. Wasting no time, we took our breakfast burritos on the road and hightailed it to Yard Dog Gallery of folk, Native American, and outsider art, where Spin and Schubas were hosting the first of two parties featuring free sneakers from Saucony. So, while Chicago's 1900s played a nice mix of the type of country rock you want to hear while coming off a hangover (or, in my case, the type of country rock I want to hear to get me drinking again before noon), a small group of early risers were treated to fresh kicks and other giveaways. On a personal note, I plan to move from the D.C. to Chicago at the end of the summer, so Schubas will hopefully become a major part of my weekly routine.


A brief drive through "pleasantly weird" South Austin brought us to the parking lot of Bird's Barbershop, where new favorites Bishop Allen played a set of reworked songs from their last album and a few new ones from an upcoming album, all with a bit of the big-drum sound reminiscent of Arcade Fire. Bird's also turned out to be one of my favorite venues of the week, even if it was a bit off the beaten path. Although I didn't personally take advantage of the offer of free mohawks to all showgoers, I really got a kick out of watching a local kiddie come in with a shag and walk out with a nice, clean punk-rock 'do. I did partake in the free Dewar's and moonbounce, though, and quickly realized that scotch and carnival rides are two great tastes that simply do not taste great together.


Before making our way to downtown, The Shanz and I stopped in for more burritos and free parking at Freebird. Crossing the Colorado River at Town Lake is one of the highlights of the non-musical portion of SXSW, since both the lore of the bats rising up at night from below the Congress Avenue Bridge and the view of the Texas State Capitol are pretty impressive. We briefly stopped in to the Onion A/V Club and Tag Team Media party at Emo's to catch part of Clem Snide's set, but took off early for the Rhapsody party at the Mohawk patio, where we weaseled our way in despite not being on the guestlist (my specialty) and were greeted immediately with high-class schwag in the form of USB drives, a catered early dinner, and open bar. Recent Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee Peter Buck joined Robyn Hitchcock on stage for a short set of jangly pop.


Very few of last year's SXSW parties had any kind of MC or host to manage the transition between bands, save a few event promoters who thanked the sponsors or announced raffle winners. This year, almost every party had some host or another, ranging from rappers to comedians to Andrew W.K. The Rhapsody party had a couple local radio DJs whose main role was to ask trivia questions and give away fancy smartphones and handheld audio players -- not bad, really, as far as giveaways go. However, the entire course of the trivia ranged from questions about "Weird Al" Yankovic to, um, "Weird Al" Yankovic. Apparently, his newest album, Straight Outta Lynwood, has been a huge smash on Rhapsody, meaning that the entire entourage accompanying one fat dude with a goatee and wallet chain got lit up with the newest and coolest in personal electronics, just because said fat dude knew everything there was to know about parody rock. Actually, ask me anything about early "Weird Al" (I'm talking strictly pre-UHF here), and I've got the man's oeuvre down pat.


Okay, so after I didn't win at trivia, party headliners (and the 2007 SXSW Whores of the Week for playing more than three sets per day every day of the festival -- sorry Matt & Kim, better luck next time) Peter Bjorn & John treated the crowd to a fun set of the great '60s era pop that keeps coming out of Scandanavia (see also: Jens Lekman, El Perro del Mar, The Concretes, Shout Out Louds). Wearing leather jackets despite the heat and borrowing instruments since Bjorn Yttling's bass and other equipment were nicked en route to Austin, PB&J became an immediate contender for sing-along champions of the year (what if Peter Bjorn & John became the new Dashboard Confessional?). I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing "Young Folks", even though the especially charming whistling parts were pre-recorded, and Peter Moren had the gaul to fake pucker and blow -- which is really ironic, since they fly their bongoist halfway across the Northern Hemisphere to perform one song live, but can't find someone in all of Texas with the whistle skills necessary to fill in on a couple of verses. Yeesh.

-- Ryan Mixtape, 03/15/2007


Click here to continue on to Part 2 of my Thursday (Day 2) coverage of SXSW from Austin.