Austin Gives Good Head(aches)

Back in December, I decided I wasn’t going to do SXSW this year. Too much running around, not enough "having fun", but then I get a call from Bob Mehr asking to be on a panel. Normally, I find the mere thought of attending (let alone participating on) panels just mind-numbingly dull. And SXSW’s aren’t any different. However, the prospect of being on a dais with friends and colleagues was too good to pass up. David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, newly signed Matador artist Andy Earles, Jon Wurster, Tony Kiewel from Sub Pop and myself. Pretty great.

The panel itself I found pretty clunky to start, but it eventually got rolling quite nicely. Zach and David played off each other quite a bit. Andy and I handed notes back to each other. Jon and Tony chimed in when necessary with interesting errata. A few discussion points seemed to leave the comedians and the "indie rockers" (me, Jon and Andy) on opposite sides of the fence. Most significantly, the point I made that indie music fans have a very poor sense of humor seemed to not sit well with David, but I think once I redirected and Andy chimed in, everything seemed to go okay. I was able to give respect to the 80’s zines that paved the way for everything "comedy" that has come from the "indie"/punk/underground scene such as Siltbreeze, Your Flesh, Forced Exposure and, most importantly, Conflict. Ultimately, there were at least a hundred people in the room (none who seemed to leave), but it was also good to know that they weren’t anticipating sets by Zach and David.

Somebody forwarded me a link to a certain reviewer’s take on the panel where she was under the impression that Zach and Cross were going to be doing comedy for her. And, not atypically, she thought Zach was bored when he was (in fact) being funny. Shows you what critics, er, sorry….an alt-weekly blogger, know. However, another blogger (this time from the AV Club) gave a more accurate reflection of the panel. Yes, Josh, I agree.

Cross, Zach, Jon, Andy, Me and Tony…

The Chunklet Invades Party was ridiculous. Teasley gave enough of a report, so I won’t repeat. However, it was a lot of fun and, personally, it was just grand to see Les Savy Fav twice in less than 24 hours. Oh, and Tim rode me across the stage like a horse during one song. God, how could I forget that?!

Reading the few blogs that I do, I was shocked by how homogenized and/or predictable their picks are. Good point of reference: anybody that said The Pipettes were good should be ignored. You can go to the bank on that one.

Apart from Clockcleaner, the band that I’m dumbfounded to not see more people discussing is Monotonix from Tel Aviv, Israel. A standing drummer, a guitarist that could pass for early Royal Trux Neil Haggerty and a front man that would give Tim from the Fav a run for his money. Sweet shit, Monotonix were much more savage and full bore than post punk. I’d call it total rock performance art energy. Most notable during their set: the singer used a cake as a mask (no, I’m not kidding) and then proceeded to destroy anything that wasn’t bolted down in the club. Huh….. Hard to believe the club had the band immediately kicked out after their set.

Monotonix at the Panache showcase….

Other than the panel, and the party, and the shorts we were filming for Superdeluxe, I was able to see a few bands and, more importantly, a few friends. Saturday night, after the Chunklet party ended, Brian Posehn and I hopped a cab with Gooch and the film crew to go see Mastodon at this big stage on the river. Couldn’t get the cameras in (no shock there) so Brian and I went in, saw a little of Against Me! and then ran into Bill from Mastodon and his wife who I both last saw at the Grammies. Before Mastodon went on, I went to buy Posehn a copy of Boris "Pink" (my last purchase for him was Torche‘s s/t which he dug) and we ate brisket tacos in between Brian being hounded for autographs and cell phone photographs. I don’t know how he does it.

Afterwards, we went to the Magnolia and I had my signature meal (1 gingerbread and 1 cornmeal pancake, 2 breakfast tacos with egg, sausage and black beans and a diet coke) and Brian opted for the Shepard’s Pie which was the special of the night. When it arrived, Brian’s smile was very wide. That’s always a good feeling. As Brian said, I’m "always in tour manager mode." So true, Brian……

Brian with his bowl of taters and meat at the Magnolia Cafe, Austin