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My Adventure in Austin -- Friday, March 16

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief / @i_ADH

Last week, I was at the South by Southwest music festival having crazy adventures and seeing all different sorts of shows. I've been spending every day this week since Wednesday giving the rundown of all I've done in Austin last week-- shows I saw, drinks I've had, and folks I've met (most specifically Chicago pianist Josh Moshier and steampunk big band leader and Nextbop artist Darcy James Argue. On Friday, I got to see both Best Coast and Wavves, met DJA, and had more free drinks on this day than any other day I spent in Austin. This all makes for a pretty interesting story.

Catch this whole week of dispatches:
Wednesday, March 14 || Thursday, March 15 || Friday, March 16 || Saturday, March 17

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I just slept for five hours, the first real sleep I've had in maybe three days. It was glorious.
6:25 AM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Recall that on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I was sleeping (or really barely napping) in front of a burger restaurant. This time, I slept in the back of Nextbop contributing writer and KRTU operations manager J.D. Swerzenski's car, which he felt slightly bad he couldn't do more for me but I had yet to become acquainted with his friends, Vincent and Amanda, where he was staying. While I eventually would meet them the next day, I was by no means upset to have the back of his car for shelter. 1) It makes for an interesting story about my crazy SXSW experience and 2) I slept in front of a burger shop the night before. I honestly had some pretty good sleep.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Just finished my write up of @robertglasper's show last night. It was soooo dope. Check it at @nextbop later today.
9:01 AM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Yep, still plugging this show review.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
J.D.: "You know, you're kinda living like a homeless person." Me: "Yeah, I know." At least I have a smartphone.
9:47 AM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

This attribute was the only thing that I felt separated me from actual homeless people in that week. Even with me living entirely dependant each night on the courtesy of others, I at least also could stay on Twitter all the time and type stuff on Google Docs. Hey, I was still posting to the site while away this whole time.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I love this city. All walks of life ride the bus. However, no one seems to know how to ride the bus.
10:09 AM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

As I said on the first day of this account, I don't drive. This means I'm pretty comfortable by now using public transportation. This usually means that while I adapt to the general ineptitude of San Antonio's VIA buses, I am completely enamored with Austin's Cap Metro. They run more frequently, have more tools to know when buses are running on time, and are used by the general public more often which is why it seems to have so many more resources dedicated to it as opposed to San Antonio's bus system which is largely patronized by the working poor.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
The walk here was sort of ridiculous. (@ Flat Top Burger Shop for Music for Listeners)
11:53 AM - 16 Mar 12 via foursquare

The travel to the Flat Top that morning was sort of interesting. It didn't take me long to realize that the best way to do SXSW unofficially is to stick to East Austin. The side of town is rather interesting because it has historically been the black side of town but is steadily being gentrified. However, what makes East Austin's gentrification so interesting is how scattershot this process seems to be. As I was riding the bus to the Flat Top according to the directions Google Maps was giving me, I forged deeper and deeper into East Austin, seeing residential areas that were, frankly, blacker and blacker. For a while, I felt I was being led astray. I outright got off the bus when I saw a legit black barber shop. I just knew I was heading in the wrong direction at that point. What kind of indie rock event could be held this deep into the East Side? What commenced was a constant wandering throughout the neighborhood, completely lost with the directions my phone was giving me and trying to figure out how this neighborhood looked this way. There seemed to be an odd mix of ramshackle homes of black people, ramshackle homes of young white people, and recently renovated high-end homes. There was little rhyme or reason to how these homes are arranged. There were black barbershops clearly in place for decades just a block or two away from some new, trendy coffee place. Austin-- even its gentrification is weird.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
The Music for Listeners party at the Flat Top is pretty ideal, and the Ranger Creek beer is just for tips.
12:22 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Honestly, the Music for Listeners day parties may be SXSW's best kept secret. The lineup is always pretty good. The Flat Top has a curiously good burger. The beer was free (just pay tips). More people should go to the shows here each year. The east side really is the way to go.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
The @rangercreek Oatmeal Pale Ale is growing on me. However, it being free at two different events in the last two days helps. #SXSW
12:36 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

No, seriously. Ranger Creek knows how to make a good beer.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Apparently, Glasper last night was my capstone because my schedule today has hella holes. #SXSW
12:55 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Here is when things get interesting. What happens when you think you've seen the best you're going to see the whole festival? This is now three days in. Suddenly, the schedule I had spent weeks crafting was waning in importance in my head. Here is where people start wandering wherever based solely on someone's suggestions. It's this little bit of doubt in my plans that's crucial to the Mosher and Argue run ins later.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
In an hour, I'm leaving this place with free beer and to walk three blocks to another thing with free beer. Today's going to be a problem.
1:01 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

This was the day where I likely paid for the fewest drinks. If you play your cards right in planning SXSW, you can drink for free a lot of the time. Of course, the rest of the time you're drinking, you're experiencing a 200% mark-up. Such is the karma of SXSW.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
This line outside the Yelp party at The Vortex: so not the business. They're so lucky I really want to see @TheNouns again. #SXSW
2:00 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Last year, while wandering around the East Side, I happened upon a pretty cool coffee warehouse, Texas Coffee Traders. They were putting on a random show across the street so I lingered there for a while for the show and fell for a pretty cool garage punk group, The Nouns, which is led by the son of the guy who owns the coffee place, Travis. I thought the group was pretty good and generally charming so I made sure to include them in my scheduling for this year, hence my including the Yelp party. I figured I'd see The Nouns again and that was it.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
So much free shit (@ The Vortex Repertory Company Theatre for Backyard Austin Blowout (Yelp) w/ 15 others)
2:22 PM - 16 Mar 12 via foursquare
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I'm sorry to have doubted the @Yelp party. Too much free shit. Free quality liquor. If you didn't RSVP to this, you failed. #SXSW
2:51 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Dear @rangercreek, Your bourbon is equally if not more awesome than your beer. Sincerely, Anthony #SXSW
3:00 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Not only was there free Ranger Creek beer, there was free Ranger Creek bourbon. There was locally distilled gin and vodka, also free. There was free Red Bull. There were free organic popsicles. There were free tacos. There were keychains and mints and buttons and stickers. The long line to get in (which really wasn't much longer of a wait than ten minutes and caused by lateness in setting up) was totally justified. I really didn't see any of this coming.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
They've come a little ways from performing at Texas Coffee Brewers last year. I had to see @TheNouns again. #SXSW
2:34 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

It had been one year since I had seen The Nouns and in that time the group, while still maintaining its general sense of whimsy (they needed it, being the first set of the party after the gates opened and thus working to generate their own crowd), seemed to have a tighter, more confident sound to them. They have been battle tested by playing in different venues in Austin, and this time, their few shows at SXSW put them in the legit mix of other acts in this rat race. They put on a pretty good show, one could only wish more people had seen it.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
OH at #SXSW: "I've been drinking since 8am." I now feel like I'm slacking for starting my drinking at noon.
2:37 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

When it comes to drinking at SXSW, much like the NBA Playoffs on TNT, you go big or go home.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Now that I'm seated and riding the bus, I can finally notice how drunk I'm getting. #SXSW
3:13 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

It was at this point that Josh Moshier sent me a message to come to Stubb's on Red River, back in the thick of downtown, to meet up with Darcy James Argue. It was a difficult to be pulled away from so much free stuff, but Josh said he had a badge to get me in immediately (which is good, because the line to get into Stubb's is typically so prohibitively long that I tend to ignore it exists altogether), and that I could get free beer with it. I plotted a bus route immediately.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Just seeing Best Coast again and hanging out with Darcy James Argue (@ Stubb's Bar-B-Q for SPIN Magazine's Austin...)
4:02 PM - 16 Mar 12 via foursquare

I didn't even know Best Coast was playing here. I was just glad to be hanging out with Darcy James Argue, talking about why he's playing the Tarleton Jazz Festival the following week (which is now tomorrow), the jazz/BAM nomenclature debate (not going into too much detail but we generally agree), who we were there to see and the tips one should know of the SXSW experience. It's was pretty fun. It was also the establishment of Argue as the brilliant, mysterious conductor that he is, for while I may not run into him again for the rest of the festival, he would still direct my path.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I'm sparking so much meta-discourse at this @bestycoastyy show. I'm having a fucking blast. #SXSW
4:20 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

I make it no secret that I'm a massive dork. When a band asks the crowd, "How're y'all feelin'?!" I will reply, "I'm doing quite fine, thank you!" Folks cheer, I shout, "General enthusiasm!" I'm a bit of a ham.

For her second show of SXSW (at least I'm pretty sure it was), Cosentino showed the same bravado that she has been prone to do. There was a slight variation between songs selected at her set at Stubb's and her prior set at the Urban Outfitters the day before-- there was still a good general mix of old and new songs-- however, the size of the crowd and the energy thereof was much more appropriate for this band. Best Coast is a big deal and deserve all the eyes and ears they can get. This show also started the group's tendency to drink straight from a bottle of Jim Beam throughout their sets, thus ensuring their hazy tunes remained just as laid back through and through. While the quality of performance was largely the same in the two shows, they seemed to feed of the more receptive, larger crowd in this second show much better, which led to an altogether better show experience.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Okay, I've seen Best Coast twice in the last two days now. I can ignore her if she's still on my schedule now, right? #SXSW
4:31 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

I had scheduled to see Best Coast and Wavves at the Hype Hotel (which had a crazy long line for the whole festival) on Saturday night. Now that I had seen Best Coast twice and had plans to see Wavves later that evening, I could feel better getting rid of their final shows of the festival from my schedule, making room for other things like random last day shows or direly needed sleep. The permutations of the plans continue.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I'm not sure if it's a good or a bad idea that I'm meeting every@nextbop artist while drunk at #SXSW. This makes me less neurotic, right?
4:42 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

I'm not all that bothered with anything I say to folks being too forthright, I try to be generally honest at all times and always say what I mean, even with my inhibitions down. However, I am concerned with how much spittle I spray in close quarters.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Darcy James Argue suggested I hit this up. Who am I to say no. (@ Barbarella for Escort w/ 15 others)
5:30 PM - 16 Mar 12 via foursquare

After Best Coast's set, Argue and I parted ways but he suggested I head to Barbarella for Ecsort's set, a 17-piece disco band from Brooklyn featuring one of the Secret Society's co-conspirators, Ryan Keberle on trombone. Sure enough, this was a damn good show, a feel good anachronism. It was a wonder how a band of this massive size (and sound) fit on the tiny stage of Barbarella's back patio. The drummer and parts of the horn section seemed tucked away in little corners of the stage, always heard but difficult to see. Front and center, the female vocalist certainly made her presence known, a veritable firecracker. While the concept of such a band seems filled with bombast, they all certainly come correct.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Dan Deacon, then who knows (I have nothing scheduled after this; someone hit me up) (@ Cheer Up Charlie's)
6:37 PM - 16 Mar 12 via foursquare

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Yo, this Dan Deacon show at Cheer Up Charlie's is insane. Mad crazy dance party. #SXSW
7:09 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

I really didn't know what to expect from Dan Deacon-- one of the acts added to my schedule just from hearing his name on my periphery at some point before. The combination of curiosity, my favorite Austin bar, and a seemingly open schedule at this time slot was the perfect storm of circumstances for me to check this guy out.

Electronic artist Dan Deacon caters to the crowd. It seemed that all his music was pre-made so instead of going through the motions of twisting knobs to have something to do for the sake of performance, Deacon immersed himself into the crowd acting as a master of ceremonies. Instead of leaving the dancing to the crowd (which very well could have happened with Deacon's infectious beats), he set up games in the crowd, pitting one side of the vacant lot against the other in erstwhile homages to Michael Jackson's "Bad" video when he wasn't editorializing about the importance of Planned Parenthood. It all came together for a rather madcap set and a really fun time.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
In the back of the line for the #Workaholics party. I have more than enough time to finish any beverage I have on me. #SXSW
7:41 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
This line is so long, I might be sober by the time I get inside. I'm seriously hoping I didn't waste a day of drinking. #SXSW
7:45 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I feel like I should be able to check in on Foursquare for waiting in line. #SXSW
7:49 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

One big rule of SXSW is to prepare for lines. The bigger the act, the longer the line. This seems rather obvious in any context but becomes a different sort of reality when concentrated in Austin for these weeks in March. I just knew, despite my RSVPing beforehand (which is a generally fruitless endeavor at most any other show) that the Workaholics party, thrown by the cast of the hilarious (and surprisingly popular) Comedy Central series, would be a popular place to be. I knew I wanted to see pop punk band Wavves, whose set was at 10:30, so I figured I should show up around 7:30. This proved to be the right move.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Girl drunkenly collapses on the street. Girl in front of me: "That curb had her name on it." Me: "She got American History X'd."
10:00 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

1) SXSW is a marathon, not a sprint. Pacing yourself is key.
2) It's hard for me to let a good joke opportunity pass me by when I see it.
3) You're thinking about the curb stomping scene now, too, huh?

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I waited in line for 2 1/2 hours for this. I'll be nursing the hell out of these free drinks. (@ Icenhauer's)
10:28 PM - 16 Mar 12 via foursquare

I wasn't even expecting free drinks. I got two tickets-- one for liquor, one for beer. Upon this discovery, I made a beeline to the bar (with a curiously short line) and got some Jameson. Like I said, go big or go home, especially when it's free.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Just told Adam that the Catherine Zeta-Jones slips beneath lasers song was recently stuck in my head. My work is done. #Workaholics#SXSW
10:44 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Every time I watch this movie, this song will be stuck in my head. It's cool to be able to tell that to the source.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Just as expected, @wavveswavves is killin' it. #Workaholics #SXSW
11:12 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
The moshing has commenced. That's why I didn't get close.#Workaholics #SXSW
11:15 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

It is within me to enjoy a good punk show, but even I have my limits. Besides, I didn't want to put down my drink.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Nathan Williams just smoked a joint and slapped a dude in the front row in the face. Adam's moshing. This show is insane. #Workaholics#SXSW
11:28 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
I can't turn my smile off. Dude lit three joints and passed them into the crowd. #Workaholics #SXSW
11:43 PM - 16 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

It just isn't a Wavves show without some crazy antics. Until the tales of the A$AP mob in a fight at the 1100 Warehouse on the final night of the festival, however, this may have been the most madcap moment of SXSW until then. It's uncertain why Williams slapped that dude in the face. When he said he would, it just seemed like a funny joke. When he actually hit the dude, it was funnier. The funniest fact of all is that the dude remained up front for the rest of the show, likely still telling the story of how Nathan Williams slapped him in the face at the Workaholics party to this day, just as I'm still telling the crazy story of witnessing such a moment.
Not long after that, Williams suddenly had three joints in his mouth at the same time and proceeded to light them, then pass them through the crowd. The antics continue.

As for the show itself, Williams and Co. have come a long way from their meltdowns in Spain. The devil may care attitude the trio have exemplified in their songs persists in their performances, grounding them in the fact that they're out here having fun but still instilling the other notions of stonerdom that don't often see the limelight-- that of laser-like focus and perfectionism. Seeing Wavves live isn't exactly like hearing their accaimed albums, King of the Beach and the Life Sux EP, but only because the live setting naturally lends itself to the crazy, communal experience the songs lend themselves to. It isnt hard to let oneself go whole hog with the crazy fun Williams and crew engenders. While this performance's content is largely unchanged from the show he performed when I last saw him at Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest of 2010, it was still no less of a rambunctious experience.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Hung out with Nathan Williams and talking Malcolm Gladwell. Yeah, I took it there.
12:14 AM - 17 Mar 12 via picplz

The cool thing about the Workaholics party was the complete openness of it. There seemed to be no partition between the talent and the fans, allowing for a free flow to various acts and of course the stars of the show-- Blake Anderson, Anders Holm, Adam DeVine, and Kyle Newacheck. This of course led to Williams milling about the venue after the show in the lobby where I had the opportunity to speak with him about the odd nature of a punk act closing out a show mostly booked with hip hop, the fact that I was the only black guy there and singing all the words, how much thought goes into his crazy show antics (none, which for him is likely for the best, it makes for pretty sick performances), and the racial dynamics of his current tour. It was quite funny for Williams to tell me an anecdote in which he not only avoided saying the "N" word but also the actual term "the 'N' word'. White folk are funny when it comes racial discourse. We can't figure out what we don't discuss, y'all.

Afterwards, the frequently aforementioned Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Williams' long term girlfriend, showed up to tell him it was time to go. I, in amazement, got to compliment her about her new work and how the new songs produced by Jon Brion are tighter but still maintain her distinct tone. It was a cool moment for me but she honestly looked a little tired. Still, I felt that merited mentioning.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, because this night in Austin is still young (@ Lustre Pearl Bar for Dickies Party)
12:21 AM - 17 Mar 12 via foursquare
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Why am I dancing more than the vast majority of this crowd? #SXSW
12:26 AM - 17 Mar 12 via Plume for Android
Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
My jazz background messed things up. I thought I was clapping at a solo and inadvertenty initiated a crowd rhythm clap. #SXSW
12:53 AM - 17 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

The new friend I made in the line for Wavves, Candace, was waiting the whole time for what she thought was the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show which was really happening a few houses down at Lustre Pearl. I figured the night was still young so we made our way there. Besides, it was another act that had been on my periphery but still hadn't managed to hear before then.

The group seems to encapsulate the highest order of shoegaze indie rock. While the band has some quite danceable songs, it would seem this was not the crowd that would bend to the beat, locked in place in the statuesque pose of hipsterdom to which this band lends itself. Essentially, it's a good band but it just may not have been the right crowd to appreciate it, which is odd because one would think folks there past midnight would be tried and true fans.

Anthony Dean-Harris ‏ @i_ADH
Seriously, today has been crazy. I never saw any of this coming which makes it particularly awesome. #SXSW
1:52 AM - 17 Mar 12 via Plume for Android

That's all I have to say about that.

Tune in tomorrow for a schedule gone kaput, The Roots, the invisible tendrils of Darcy James Argue, and the hazards of Day 4 exhaustion.

Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio. More of his writing can be found at his blog, In Retrospect and you can also follow him on Twitter.