This past week, Austin hosted SXSW, during which film-folks, bands, and hipsters descend upon the city like there's an alien invasion.
Friday evening, Chris and I rode our bikes to Lustre Pearl to see what we'd heard would be a good lineup. We waited in line for 30 minutes, finally got in, and caught a band called Rogue Wave. They wrapped up around 7:30 and, since they were pretty good, we felt hopeful about the rest of the night. The next lineup, which didn't begin until 9, included She and Him and Broken Bells. But after Rogue Wave ended, everyone who didn't have a SXSW badge was kicked out.
What to do?
We rode east to the Shangri-la where no badges or wrist-bands were required, stood outside, and watched a Japanese group. I never got their name, but they were - in look, sound, and stage presence - the equivalent of an American, pop-punk boy band. I imagine that they occasionally make appearances on Saturday morning shows geared toward ten year olds and on Japanese game shows. They were entertaining, though the photo doesn't do them justice.
After that, we left to get food at East Side King, one of Austin's trailer eateries. East Side King is in the courtyard at Liberty bar. My favorite items so far are the beet home fries and the steamed bun stuffed with pork belly. While we ate inside (where it was warm), one of our friends went out to listen to the band. He reported that they got belligerent: "I guess since we're from Palm Beach, you think it's okay not to pay attention." I kinda wish I'd witnessed that quip.
Chris and I started to ride our bikes home, but we made one last stop at Lustre Pearl. She and Him were playing. We squeezed our way to the front of a crowd standing outside of a metal gate that encloses the courtyard. There was Zooey Daschanel singing and looking as cute as ever in that slightly annoying and slightly charming way. When the set ended, she didn't say a word to the audience, which knocked her down a couple of notches in my book. Zooey, talk to your fans.
While we waited for Broken Bells to start, we chatted it up with the 20 year olds around us, speculating that we could all get into the courtyard if we crawled underneath of the taco truck that serves as a continuation of the gate around the place.
Finally, I said to Chris: "I dare you to do it."
He looked at me for a second, thinking.
I stared back. Silence, while I sent mental telepathy: Come on, yahoo-Chris-who I dated when I was 22, do it.
He shoved his bag into my hands, scooted around to the back of the truck, and crawled under while I stood with the 20s and waited. Someone said, "I see a hand." And there it was, poking out beneath the lip of the truck like a crab claw skimming solid dirt ground.
20 year old guy (looking big-eyed and amused): "He's gonna freak that woman out who's standing there ordering when he pops up from beneath her."
Chris says she caught his eye, and he put his finger to his lips: "Shhhh."
20 year old girl next to me: "Are you with him?"
Me: "Yeah. He's my husband." If I'd thought for two more seconds, I would have said: "Never met him."I walked around and, in my dress and sandals, slithered under the taco truck to join him. Yes, I worried about messing up my dress, even though I tried to act like I didn't care.
I emerged on the other side, and Chris said, "Hurry. The guy in the taco truck just walked over and told the bartender people are sneaking in under the truck." We submerged ourselves into the crowd asap.
Chris: "I was just talking. I wouldn't have done it if you hadn't dared me."
Me: "I wanted to do it, but I knew I wouldn't unless you had already done it."
Chris: "I did it because I wanted to show those 20 year olds the world is their oyster."
We are so wise. Right?
Me: "We're so rock n roll."
When the show ended and the next band was setting up, we looked at each other.
"Do you wanna stick around?"
"Well, let's just wait until they start. We can listen to a few songs."
"They look 12."
Band: "Check. Check. Check."
"They're annoying me."
The first song started.
"Let's go home."
Oh. We're so old.
Today on the radio, some guy said that the new album by Surfer Blood is the best rock n roll album out there right now. But we're okay having missed them. There's a WHOLE lot we did not see, but at least this year SXSW didn't feel as overwhelming as it felt last year. Now that we have a feel for the festival, next year we'll be like old pros with little personal schedules of must-sees written out for ourselves. Maybe. Or maybe we'll wing it again.
Here is a link to an NPR story about Broken Bells; they've included 3 songs with the interview, so listen. It's good!
A few other links:
East Side King (The trailer eatery at the Liberty courtyard.)
Bomb Tacos (The truck at Lustre Pearl, where, in fact, the tacos ARE the bomb, and the site from which I swiped credit the photo at the start of this post.)
Lustre Pearl (One of the few places in Austin that gives me New Orleans deja vu.)