Monday, March 17, 2008

South By Shut the Fuck Up Now, Mags

I'm going to stop soon, I promise. But you HAVE to hear about Friday night. Friday afternoon was spent drinking free beer at the Yard Dog party, and going to see the Girls Rock Camp showcase at Austin Java. 12-year-old punk bands! (The kids' ages, not the bands'. Fun stuff.)

So, in perhaps a first for South By- not entirely sure about that, it's been a while since I had a wristband - at Esther's Follies on Friday night, they had a comedy showcase, lasting the whole night, from 8:00 to 2:00, three comedians PER HOUR.

I stayed for every damn second of it, folks, and danged if they didn't manage about a 70/30 good-to-bad ratio. The "big names" headlining it were Janeane Garofalo and Brian Posehn (from Just Shoot Me, The Comedians of Comedy, and The Sarah Silverman Program. Unbilled, but perhaps most thrilling to me, were Matt Besser and Matt Walsh from the Upright Citizen's Brigade (who did the usual "heckler/uncomfortable comedy" thing, and did it well (and involved a "What has two thumbs..." joke, which is apparently really old, but I'd never heard before, so it made me howl).

Janeane Garofalo I love, but she seemed kind of agitated, and seemed very much to be making up her routine as she went along. It's a testament to her talent that she managed to wrangle laughs this way, but I wouldn't say it was the best set by far. Brian Posehn is ALWAYS funny, no matter what; you won't go wrong seeing him. Also really funny were Human Giant (T-shirt cannon humor...can't go wrong there,) Reggie Watts, and Hard-n-Phirm, who played last. Perhaps it was my delirious state, but they were my favorites...I had tears streaming down my face during their sets.

Saturday during the day we went to drink more free beer at Yard Dog - damn, that is one civilized party! They had free Dogfish Head, people! - and saw Chuck Prophet. That was a really good show...I'd recommend him, if you get a chance to see him.

That night we went to the big "buzz" Saturday showcase, which was Duffy, Okkervil River, and Roky Erickson. Duffy is supposedly the new Amy Winehouse; she's a comely young girl who sounds like she's straight out of 1963. (However, unlike Amy Winehouse, she can remain standing onstage.) I liked her show; though she's much more of a Lulu or Petula Clark kind of sixties-esque singer, as opposed to Amy's Ronnie Spector/bad girl turn. Her single, "Mercy," is not surprisingly the catchiest thing on her album - I'd buy it on the strength of that song alone. She does need to grit it up a bit, though.

I didn't know much about Okkervil River, but I ended up really liking their show, too. They are cute li'l indie-rock youngsters, and the lead singer was plaintively earnest. I intend to download them (and Duffy) someday, when the disposable income fairy comes back again.

Last, we saw Roky Erickson, the rejuvenated psychedelic rocker who spent a long, long time in a schizophrenic haze (not helped by electroshock therapy,) only to make a startling recovery when his youngest brother took custody of him and got him on meds. Turns out that he is still a smokin' live performer. It's not really my genre of music - my early 70's stuff tends toward the glam rock - but he was undeniably awesome. (And, strange, the nature of the schizophrenia. Between songs, he seems unsure of himself; he never said anything but "Thank you!" with the exact same arm movement. And, the other guitar player was clearly cuing him after each song to tell him what song was next. But, while playing, he was incredibly fluid, and his playing and singing were flawless. Weird, but good to see a happy ending to mental illness, for a change.)

And, that was it; I bailed after Roky, due to a roiling stomach from too much beer and crappy food. My mom went home on Sunday, so my free babysitting is sadly over - I probably should have "modeled through it" (Thanks, Tyra!) and gone out until close, but I just couldn't face it.

Today, we're broke, and I put on three pounds (of which I'm assuming much is bloating; there will be hell to pay if not).

Worth it? Um...yeeess, but I don't think I'll bother with the wristband next year. The free shows are so cool, and so numerous, that one doesn't really need one to see all the bands that they would have seen with a wristband. And, did I mention, um, FREE alcohol?

(I heard from several people that the thing at the Oaks on Sunday was really great...I'm sorry I missed it, but the flesh was weak. Anyone go?)

1 comment:

Lee said...

Actually, Roky's heyday was the mid-Sixties. The early Seventies were mostly spent in prison on a pot charge (that's when he was getting the electroshock). He founded the 13th Floor Elevators in 1965, and then the mental illness started showing up in 1968.