Hey, Aren't You Juliette Lewis?
Walking down 6th street yesterday, you had to wonder if everyone in the world somehow heard that Art Brut song, “Formed a Band” and decided that if Eddie Argos could do it, how hard could it really be? I've seen telephone directories thinner than the official SXSW guide they give you to registration, with about 54,322 bands scattered out in tiny print over four days, with each one playing an average of 3.2 shows. Even at the Red Roof Inn right now 15 miles out of Austin, I'm watching two dudes with long scruffy hair, goatees, porkpie hats, and skinny jeans bemoaning how their van broke down on the way here and how their keyboardist got denied entrance. As far as I can tell, they weren't demanding a Myspace Music page to enter the city limits of Austin this week, so the band must be Canadian. Or else very very stupid.
If you aren't in bands, you work for a newspaper, or you write a blog, or work for a music-related tech company, or in promotions or for an agency–something. Which goes back to my trade show theory. To paraphrase Back to the Future: it's like an alternate Austin 1998 Corvette Day. But things here actually look a little more '88. There are a lot of mustaches running wild, beards, blazers, lame head bands, ironic MTV sunglasses, the accursed neon (confession: I own one neon jacket that I purchased in the fabled year of our lord, 1998.). Even the Ice Cream Man showed up and gave me a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ice cream bar, something I probably haven't done since l learned to tie my shoes (translation: roughly four weeks ago).
This is why when the Cool Kids starting rapping “88,” yesterday at the set at the Gorilla Vs. Booze day party, things started to make more sense. This was the party hosted by infamous Dallas raconteur/blogger extraordinaire, Chris Cantalini, who I can safely report looks neither like a Gorilla nor a Bear, proving that unlike the Shitty Beatles, it's not just a clever name. As for the show itself, it kind of felt like I was watching House Party, the place was packed, the roof was low, everyone was going nuts. Unfortunately, Martin Lawrence wasn't DJ'ing and less high-top fades. The Cool Kids have that golden age-era down pat, swapping vocals every two bars, gurgling analog beats and the look is perfect vintage. Mikey Rox was wearing a pair of classic Jordans that I haven't seen since the 3rd Grade and needless to say I don't compliment men on their shoes very often, but sometimes you just have to say, well played. The set was impressive, these guys have improved a lot since I saw them just a few months ago, honed during their first-ever trip to Europe and Asia. On-stage, they have a whole lot of charisma and most importantly, understand how to put on a fun live show, something 95 percent of rappers never figure out.
The Cool Kids: The 1988 Los Angeles Gangbanger Look Is In This Spring
When the party ended, I headed back to the 6th St. cluster fuck, where a creeping layer of darkness was settling all across the mustaches of the upper lip of every band in Austin (aren't you people aware that sporting a mustache makes you 42 percent more evil?) and decided to make a beeline for the Domino showcase at Antone's to try not to get stuck in one of those endless lines that seem to snake around every corner in town. If you want to get into a cool party, you have to wait and maybe not get in at all if the place fills up too rapidly. As lines are one of the things I hate most in this world (along with opossums, Dick Cheney and Albanians), I decided the best thing to do was get there early and not take any chance on missing The Kills.
Unfortunately, that meant having to sit through the lackluster first three acts. Simian Mobile Disco, came first and for a Mobile Disco, I have to say that they were surprisingly stationary. In fact, I didn't even know S.M.D. was playing until halfway through their set, because it was just two DJ's playing crappy Euro-Dance and barely moving. Albeit, I probably was in a terrible position to judge their effectiveness as I am neither 19 years old, British, or a habitual user of ecstasy. The next great hope was These New Puritans, who instead of dressing like Puritans (Cotton Mather, holla!), tried to doo a genre fusion of late-to-the-game dance punk/ beat hip-hop, with a British front man wearing a suit of Roman Armor and a salad bowl hair cut. Clearly, I had no hope of taking them seriously, as all I could do was think about making jokes about Julius Caesar and wondering their thoughts on “the Gauls.”
Third up came Lightspeed Champion, the new sensitive Saddle Creek act from the guy that looks like Kele from Bloc Party that used to be the lead singer of Test Icicles. Wearing a fur hat that looked more Siberia in Winter than Austin in the spring, Ex-Icicles sang a bunch of acoustic ballads, augmented them with some sappy melodramatic strings and really only was worth talking about because he had a female drummer wearing a Wolverine mask which somehow manages to be both the dumbest thing I've ever seen and pretty fucking awesome. The last leading up to the Kills was Glasgow act, Sons and Daughters who delivered an absolutely blistering set of dancey guitar rock that suggested Franz Ferdinand with less histrionics and overt pop nods. I'd only vaguely heard of them before tonight, but will certainly pay more attention from now on. Their lead guitarist is flat-out great, their drummer is incredible, an Octopus like whirl of arms. And now I'm being apparently told that if I don't take this next cab, there won't another one for nearly two hours so this post will have to be continued later.