telling minor stories to avoid a major one

SXSW 2009: Day 1, Tommy’s recap by Barbecue Bros
March 25, 2009, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Concert review | Tags: , , , , ,

Day 1, The Hot Freaks Party, Club Mohawk/Club DeVille

Friday morning I picked up Kenny from D/FW at about 9:30am, and we headed down I-35 to Austin before eventually getting into town at 12:45pm. After checking into our hotel and briefly taking in some NCAA games, we got a taxi and headed downtown. I had been hearing about the Hot Freaks party on XMU, so I figured we’d head there as a starting point. We got into Mohawk with ease, used our free drink ticket for a PBR and heard a few songs of These United States‘s set, who were good and kicked our SXSW off nicely.

After another PBR and $9 patron shots (!!) we headed next door in order to get there in plenty of time for The Hold Steady‘s set at 4:30. The line at the door deterred us until we figured out it would take 10-15 minutes max to make it into the party. We then proceeded to get into another effing line to get our “free” beer because of our $2 wrist band. Once we eventually made it to the front of the bar, we got our beers from a surly bartendress who clearly was not happy to be serving that day – she would tell every patron that “the beer’s free but the service isn’t.” If you happened to tip she might give you another beer (me) or she might not (Kenny).

We got a decent spot under the tent for The Thermals set, who were much better live than I had remembered them being on record a few albums ago. “Now We Can See” was probably the highlight of the set, and even got the keyboardist from The Hold Steady singing along. Kenny had the brilliant idea to make our way as close to the stage as we could and then dart up there as soon as The Thermals‘ set ended. Of course we couldn’t get anymore beer, but we might get a great view. The plan worked to perfection and we found ourselves 5 feet from the stage during the set change, behind a girl who was apparently the world’s biggest Hold Steady fan.

The band came on shortly after and rocked through a set of approximately 17 songs (sadly no “Stay Positive” though). Craig Finn was a bundle of energy on stage, doing his singspeak thing and shuffling back and forth across the stage. Their set made me wish I knew the songs a little better but they still hit some great ones I recognized – namely “Magazines,” “Constructive Summer” and “Stuck Between Station.” A killer party to start of our SXSW.

Day 1, Night

After hitting up a good tex-mex place, we went back to the hotel to regroup and wait on Avent to get in. Unfortunately, once he arrived and we headed back downtown, we lost some of the momentum Kenny and I had gained that afternoon. There were lines everywhere and we spent a good amount of time sitting in one at Mohawk to hopefully see The Hold Steady again. We got up towards the front but lost patience ten minutes before their set once we saw that the badge and wristband holders were getting priority over us peasants. Makes we wonder if we had been able to get in had we stuck around though.

We tried a few other places and caught two more bands – The Hard Lessons at Soho Lounge and TV/TV at Troubadour. The Hard Lessons are made of a husband and wife and are from Michigan (which they made sure to mention several times during their set). They also wanted the audience to participate. Like, really badly. And the guy singer kept jumping on top of the speaker, which can be cool if he only did it once instead of like four times.  As for the band, they had kind of a dirty garage sound but their set was mixed loud and their last song “Go Die Stop” (or something to that effect) kind of pissed us all of (Kenny moreso than the rest). Made me feel bad that I snuck in while making Avent and Kenny pay an $8 cover.

We wandered around, complaining that we couldn’t find a place to get into before stumbling on Troubadour which had no cover. We walked in and ordered a couple rounds of tequila shots while TV/TV kept mic checking, to the point of Avent shouting “I THINK THE VOCALS ARE GOOD.” The band came on and were tolerable enough, if with a bit of a mallpunk vibe. After being seriously ushered out promptly at 2am, we decided to call it a night after we had absolutely no idea where to go after the bars closed.

Day 2 recap to come in a forthcoming post. More photos from SXSW can be found at my Flickr set


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[…] – Vetiver/The Sian Alice Group/The Houstons – Snug Harbor, Charlotte, NC 3/19 – SXSW – Austin, TX 4/9 – Death Cab for Cutie/Cold War Kids – Davidson College, […]

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