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article imageDJ Exclusive - SXSW Day 4 Wrap Up

By malan     Mar 17, 2007 in Entertainment
We run into Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, a Japanese Marching Band, Malan plays a last minute showcase, Vic Thrill's in a pink suit and we see Perry Ferrell (again)... all in one day.
Day 4 is behind me... I'm tired, sore and very happy. Yesterday we spent 13 hours on the streets of downtown Austin, TX, it went a little something like...
Tommy and the guys drop us off near downtown and we walk to find the club I'm playing at, Agave and discover that it's not open yet. SXSW is in full swing, the streets are filled with people, characters, costumes, vendors, cars, bikes, skateboards... yeah you get it. Colors everywhere, music on top of the colors, smells on top of the music, food, beer, port-a-potties... an orchestra of scents. As we walk down the street we run into Wayne Coyne singer for The Flaming Lips and Tonight Show correspondent for SXSW. He's back on the streets, wearing the same suit that he had on yesterday (as was I). We stop, say hi, take a few photos and move on.
Lunch at a small cafe, my allergies are exploding. We get a call from Lyndsie who is waiting for us at the club, it's time to move. We cross the street to get ready to set up. Beau has brought me a guitar, microphone, mic stand and cable. We spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get the PA in the small bar to work and finally, we have sound. I make a short set list and get ready. The club opens and as people come through the door I start to realize that I know everyone there. Gary Hizer, Lyndsi, George, old Rewake buddy Kaelin who I haven't seen in ages, it's a room full of Tulsans and ex-Tulsans, surreal. My voice is scratchy from the trip but I make it through without everything falling apart. I see a black guy with dred-locks come in, Lyndsi has yanked him in off the street. I end the set and he steps up to the front of the stage.
"My name is Chris and I run the festival, we'd love to have you play some more showcases if there are cancellations or things like that." We exchange phone numbers and I pack up to head out. The next act sets up.
We realize that Iggy Pop is at the Convention Center and make a dash for it to catch the last half. After some searching we find the room and yep... sure enough, there he is. Iggy himself sitting on a stage with The Stooges. Iggy is shoeless, wearing a tank top and is sprawled all over his chair like an old blanket. His voice is so full of personality you can almost see it. They tell stories about Detroit in the 60's, meeting The Doors, how they got started, stories about "The Fun House" one of three houses the band shared in their youth and where they wrote alot of their first songs. Iggy said they didn't really have songs when they started, they had 3 "themes" and the band would play whatever they wanted and he'd talk and sing on one of the themes. I forget exactly what he said they were but there was one for each emotion, one for when he wanted to be angry, one for when he wanted to be sexy and one for when he wanted to be sad... an interesting concept. They talked about drugs alot and tripping acid in the basement together while coming up with band names until finally of them decided that they were alot like The 3 Stooges and took the name for themselves, originally naming the band "The Psychadelic Stooges" before the record label made them shorten it to the name we all know them by, simply, "The Stooges."
We spend the next few hours on the streets, just pounding away trying to visit as many venues as possible. We encounter a lot of Japanese artists and later find out that it's Japan night at one of the local clubs called Elysium. We exchange broken English pleasantries with several of them unti l we are finally able to decipher where the event is taking place, we head that direction. On the way, Chris calls with an opening for a show at The Chugging Monkey, but then it falls apart and doesn't happen.
Elysium is packing out quickly in anticipation of Japan night. The crowd is 50% Asian, 50% everything else. We hit the merch booths and purchase CDs and T-Shirts to show our support. My girlfriend Danelle is getting the coolest yellow Asian designed t-shirt I've ever seen in my life. Geisha's with machine guns, very cool. We head up to the front and the show starts. About 7 Japanese girls that look like small toy dolls walk out on stage and start squealing into the microphones...
It was the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life, you just wanted to rush the stage and squeeze them they were so adorable, and then... the music hit. They pulled out horns, trumpets and trombones and broke into a set of full-on ska music. I wasn't expecting that one at all... that was the last thing I'd have thought they'd be playing. It was surreal. 6 Japanese girls holding guitars twice their size playing ska music. It was amazing... wait it just made sense. Their name is ORESKA BAND, get it? Ore-Ska, Oriental Ska.. nice. We watched most of the set and then bolted to see what else the night had in store for us.
Perry Ferrell's new band "Satellite Party" was due onstage any minute. We made it to Stubbs just as the opener was wrapping up their set. I'd been hyping Perry to my friends all day and telling them to expect a shocking and amazing performance. Unfortunately, it appears I was lying. The set was average at best and it almost appeared that he had asked a local garage band to be his backup band for the performance. They didn't really sound "on" if you know what I mean. Perry's voice was also weak, hidden behind the music and completely out of key most of the time. He's notorious for singing badly live but normally his energy and effects make up the difference and you're left thinking that he is some sort of angel among men, but after this set, I kind of felt like at least for that night, the magic was not with him. When he introduced the band I realized that the guitarist was none other than Nuno Bettencourt, best known for his work with 90's rock band, Extreme who created a name for themselves with the smash hit "More Than Words" 15 years ago. The set ended and Perry was screaming about Love and The Family of Life and Taking Over The World and then he was gone. Still a legend to me, even if the show this night was a bit underwhelming. We left Stubbs and hit the street again. As we got to the corner, there he was, walking quickly with security and wife in tow. We considered stopping and talking to him but decided against it and allowed him to disappear in a house that was lit with Christmas lights (in March), never to be seen again.
The Polyphonic Spree were appearing at the Convention Center Ballroom. This was the event I'd been waiting for. I discovered the voice of Tim Tim Delaughter when I live in Dallas in my teens. He was fronting the band Tripping Daisy, the biggest act going at the time. Tripping Daisy was a psychedelic rock show to the extreme, ala Jane's Addiction with an angelic, child-like voice to match and saw their fair share of fame in their days before one of the band members died and the group disbanded. I used to wonder what ever happened to him, he was so talented and so loved by fans, it was almost like he had to be doing something, somewhere.
As it turns out, he was up to his old tricks and launched one of the most creative musical acts to hit the scene in decades, The Polyphonic Spree, a 20 member rock and roll miracle spreading good vibes of happiness and love to people all over the world. Initially they were accused of being a cult due to the robes they wore onstage and the lyrics to the songs that seem to be preaching some sort of message but it's one of love and happiness and loving yourself, which is really what people need right now. I've wanted to see them for years and as they filled the stage (literally) I knew it was going to be good.
They'd ditched the robes and were sporting all black suits, crowd members talked about this being the first show with the new outfits. They looked like some soft of military unit. Black pants and jackets with red patches on them. They all matched perfectly. Tim came out and the music started. His voice was child-like, high pitched and he squealed into the microphones softly at first, before the music exploded and the lights spun out of control and giant video screen that shadowed the stage lit up like some sort of space ship taking off, it was an assault on the senses and executed perfectly. The feeling that was coming off of the stage was full of love and the message was clear, they were looking you dead in the eye and saying "Hey guys, everything is going to be fine, look at the sun and let it make you smile." I can feel the eyes rolling at this point and the words "Damn Hippies" being mumbled and if I were reading this I'd probably be thinking the same thing, but I was there and that was what it was going on, there's just no denying it.
The performance moved some to tears, some to laughter, some to dancing, some to jumping and others were skipping. It was as if the entire room was lifting off of the ground... higher with each repetitive chorus exclaiming some feel good phrase over and over until it was ingrained in your head. This was hands down the best performance of the festival and a great way to recover from the disappointing show by Ferrell and crew. If someone beats that performance during the remaining days of the festival I'll eat my shoes. Seriously, it was that good.
I'd become separated from George somehow and we spent the next hour on the streets, walking in different directions it turns out trying to find each other. My cell phone battery was dead and I didn't have his number written down or memorized so I walked and walked with a few pit stops for pizza and water. Somehow, by the grace of God we ran into each other and made it to Spiro's just in time to catch the Red Book Audio guys loading out of their third and final show of the day. Within minutes we were on the highway, then at the house, then discovering the blisters on our feet... then fast asleep.
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