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article imageSXSW Day 5 - Wrap Up

By malan     Mar 19, 2007 in Entertainment
As we entered the madness, I grumble to myself that “I am so over this festival.”
SXSW Day 5... wow, we are still doing it, can this be real? By this time most of the shows that I've come to see are over, it's St. Patricks Day and everyone is warning us that this will be the most packed night of the event. We get ready.
We pick up some brunch and head out in search of a clothing store where Red Book Audio is playing. We've been staying with Tommy, the band's bass player for days but have not yet seen the band (except for some grreat photos). We find it, a small purple (i think) building about 3 miles away from downtown. A stage that Tommy built is behind the shop and a band is wrapping up their set.
A guy comes up to me and says "Malan?? From Tulsa?" I say "um, yeah" and it turns out that it someone I met one night randomly at a show and talked about music with for an hour or so. He asks me why I'm there and I say I'm staying with Red Book Audio's bassist Tommy Niemeyer and Philip's eyes grow as he tells me that he's actually the guitarist for Red Book Audio... wow, that was strange. I remember Phillip teling me he was from Austin and it seems like he said he was in a band and... yep, he did say the words Red Book Audio that night a few months ago when we talked. Wow, now that's random.
RBA started playing around 3pm. Drums, keys, 2 guitarists, bassist and 1 guitarist and the bassist sang vocals. The sound was extremely cool, the keyboardist had a great kind of tone/distortion/thing going on that almost sounded like a guitar. Tommy had told me that they were struggling to find a vocalist for the band and at some point he and the guitarist decided they'd just do it and it actually had turned out pretty cool, in fact it sounded great.
There was a tree over the stage and every time the wind blew little white leaf-things fell like snow. I was video taping the show and I'm praying that some of it can be seen in the footage... it was extremely surreal. It was beautiful outside and the music filled the air everywhere you walked.
After the set George and I decided to head downtown, we'd caught a ride to the RBA show and now we were leaving on foot in hopes of flagging down a cab on our way downtown.
It’s funny how this happens. You see cabs all day and then as soon as you need one there is none to be found. We stopped at a corner store for some bottled waters and took the opportunity to call the number that we’d seen on the only cab to blow past us out on the street. Oddly enough there was no answer… we called again, and again no answer. Ok, this is not looking good, no cabs in sight and the only one we did see has a phone operator that is sleeping on the job.
So we walk… and walk… and walk… and then, we walk some more and then we walk again and walk some more and about 2 hours later we’ve made it downtown. We’re already exhausted from the past few days, 12 and 14 hour days walking on the streets and this was no way to start this one.
The hike drains me and as we entered the madness, I grumble to myself that “I am so over this festival.” But there is still more to see and Vic Thrill is playing again tonight, a show that our friend Lyndsi Bagette (ex-Tulsan) had booked at a super small place and this site had to be seen. Vic Thrill on a small stage in a club that holds 40 at most and only about 10 can actually fit in front of the stage that was almost attached to the wall in front of it. Imagine stage, hallway, wall. The hall is the audience area.
We hang around, Vic is texting that he’s minutes away, he’s been doing that for an hour and it looks like our new friend may be a bit of a “running behind” guy… but the wait is worth it… I guarantee you… every time. He appears a few minutes later in a pair of sparkling silver pants, white motorcycle goggles and a green shirt (it’s St. Patricks Day by the way) with a multi-colored tie and a flower coming out of the pocket. He looks like a gay tornado running around setting up computers, cables, amps and then from out of nowhere a headless manikin appears and is loaded on stage. Moments later a white circle that looks like a large cloth stretched over the frame that resembles a drum head is attached to the manikin and becomes a make shift projection screen for Vic’s video treatments that run while he plays.
The PA is having problems and Vic is obviously irritated with it. They fight with it for ½ an hour, samples and bass line loops sporadically explode through the speakers and we’re sure that it’s blown by this point. Vic and his drummer are behind the board trying to figure out to work the disappointing system and people are taking pictures of them.
The show finally starts and Vic starts screaming sarcastically about the “talented bands playing on 6th street” and how it’s going to be so “hard for him to compete with them” he mocks the hopefuls performing elsewhere in hopes of being “discovered” by record labels and screams “I THINK I’m GOING TO GET A RECORD DEAL” I laugh so hard that I almost choke on my own tongue and then pow.. the P.A. officially blows… and his show begins.
The sound that came out of the pa and the show that Vic put on onstage were equal in their explosiveness. The PA was distorting off and on, Vic twisted and kicked around in circles almost knocking everything on the stage over at once but somehow he barely missed it all and the songs continued. He’s visibly sick of the PA system situation and starts asking the crowd what he should do. “What do I do? Do I play?” Then he smiles and decides to start another song. Then… he looks out the window.
Outside is an ocean of people walking by looking for bands to see and here he is, locked in this small club playing for a handful of people. All of the sudden he jumps off of the stage and heads out the door, guitar in hand and begins flailing around on the sidewalk and draws a crowd. His shiny pants become a disco ball as the sun hits it and reflects back, people stop, we all run outside to video tape him and take photos of this once in a lifetime kind of moment.
He runs back into the club and finishes the song but by the middle of the next tune he’s made up his mind to move the show outside and this time he grabs the mic stand in one hand, while playing the guitar with the other and he just bolts out the door again.
Now he’s singing and playing and dancing all over the place. I’m still not sure how he kept from falling over or running into someone else but he did it... an old freak out pro it appears, he knows what he’s doing. A circle gathers, video cameras are everywhere and the song finishes. Vic goes inside and says the show’s over and thanks everyone for being there and that’s it. The PA is toast, Vic is wrapping cables and we’re all still trying to figure out what in the world just happened.
We talk to Vic after the show and wrap up things for the festival. He’s beat and talking to his wife on the phone. We take a second and go for the cheese-ball photo op and I finally got a decent photo with the man that I’ve looked up to for the last 3-4 years since I heard his distinct growling voice with NY legends The Bogman and decided that there was still hope in the world as long as voices like Vic’s were still out there… somewhere… killing it nightly.
The Beau Charrone band came on next, Beau is an ex-Tulsan who played guitar with local super heroes Fuzz for years. I’ve known Beau through the music scene grapevine for years but this is the first time I’ve seen him play since the Fuzz days. He’s using the same pa that Vic Thrill was using and having the same problems, the vocals are gone now, speakers blown it appears but he keeps trudging through the songs anyway, you could heard bits and pieces of the vocals but the guitar came through loud and clear. Beau has always been super talented as a guitarist and it seems he’s just gotten better. His new sound is definitely more Austin that the stuff that Fuzz was doing during his time in Tulsa and a new, more blues infused sound was coming out. It sounded great given the PA circumstances.
The rest of the night was quite lame in comparison. It appears that by the time Saturday rolls around the festival is actually quite finished. Most of the big acts Perry, Iggy, etc played Thursday or Friday night this night the clubs are packed with little to no namers trying to get discovered” as Vic had so properly stated earlier in the night. Our feet are tired and we’ve had it with SXSW. I can’t stand the sound of live music anymore, I’m over it and we’re trying to find a ride away from this place. It’s 10:30pm and I want to scream.
Our ride isn’t answering, neither are some other Austin friends so we decided to circle back to the club we were at earlier and see if Lyndsi and Beau are still there and were surprised to not only find them but get an offer for a place to crash for the night… SUCCESS!! We are saved. Thank you Jesus we’re going home.
We pack ourselves in to Lyndsi’s car with the gear from the club, George and I can barely move, but we’re happy to be in a car, driving somewhere, that isn’t downtown Austin, TX. They invite us into their apartment, we load in the gear and Beau breaks out some Chuck Norris quotes that he printed off of a website, I laugh until I cry, then I excuse myself and head for the bed, my first night in a real bed in 5 days. I put my phone on vibrate, close my eyes, and go to sleep. Goodnight.
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