Damn It Feels Good To Be a Bass Player: A SXSW Recap

Published  April 2013

South by Southwest RecapA brief history: back in 2009 King Louie and I decided we should have a band together. We started Missing Monuments with Julien Fried and Aaron Hill. Louie wanted an outlet for his love of power-pop rock. After one very busy year, which saw two US tours and one European tour, I quit. At the time I felt like I was supposed to be doing other things with my life. I was wrong. This past February, Louie asked if I’d play some SXSW dates to fill in for current bassist Benny Divine. Of course I did it. To be honest, I couldn’t wait. And the timing was perfect.

We woke up not so fresh on Thursday. Nobody slept well since we’d driven all Wednesday night. After a good breakfast from our always rad host Sherri Cardino, we looked at our schedule and found out we had one of the raddest slots of any show happening. We had two shows on Thursday and one show on Friday that I couldn’t give two shits about. Our Saturday show was the one I was really excited about.

When we arrived at the first show I felt a little bit out of place. We were playing the Oxford American magazine showcase. It was an odd mix of elderly, middle aged, young people and children in the backyard of an art gallery. Most of the bands playing were well dressed and not rock’n’roll. It was the kind of ragtime jazz you’d see on Frenchmen. That always makes me feel weird. But I have to say it was one of the better moments of the trip. The people at this showcase were definitely there to see the bands and weren’t worried about being seen themselves. I’m pretty sure they were bored. We gave them the kick in the ass they’d been waiting for.

That evening we played the Slovenly records showcase at the Legendary White Swan. Slovenly is a garage/punk label run by our pal Pete Menchetti. Now this show was more our speed. It was a rock venue, no kids running around, and the jukebox was playing Motörhead when I walked in. It was pretty much perfect but it was missing one important element: an audience. A few folks stumbled in as we went on but I’d have to say that seven people at best caught our set while a million people saw the next big thing down the street at the dumb-ass tourist tavern or whatever. Some bands get discouraged or bummed out but we played like it was the dome sold out.

When we left that showcase we went down the street to catch some of our buddies’ bands Barreracudas and Natural Child, who Benny Divine is now playing the keys for. A band called Bad Lovers opened up and they fuckin ruled! But this was the SXSW bullshit that I didn’t care for. A bunch of hipsters that were mostly there to say they were there. Not really interested in seeing the bands but definitely interested in being around them. Do you ever see that? Like some old guy that dances in front and makes sure people are looking at him. Puke. Give me a break.

I felt like I was supposed to be doing other things with my life. I was wrong.

Later that night, at like 3 a.m., our friend Ryan Wong’s (Reatards) band Destruction Unit was going to play on the pedestrian bridge but that got botched by double booking. That really sucked because those bridge shows rule. I was ready to get home anyway. The next day was cool. We played an afternoon gig at Vegas Hotel. It’s on the east side of town. Nice, mellow crowd, good friends and no hassle. I dig this. Our shows weren’t in downtown. We played on the east side the whole time and it was way better than playing down in the bullshit. That afternoon Louie had a Bipolaroid gig. After they played we could hear somebody singing “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by the Geto Boys. I thought, man it’d be cool if they were playing. Suddenly, Louie announced that it was in fact Bushwick Bill performing. Aaron and I ran like hell to catch the end of the set. I couldn’t believe it was actually him! When he was done I ran right up to meet him. The dude was cool as hell!

I got in touch with my dear friend Ian Saint Pe from the Black Lips that night. He invited us to their show at this massive giant performing arts center. It was like Spinal Tap. We got lost looking for the stage and the backstage area was through 50 other hallways—it was nuts. Ian has been on this level of performing for quite some time. We had a blast with those guys. They played with this guy Omar Souleyman. Wow, weird and what-the-fuck are the only words I can use to describe old Omar.

That was a busy day and it was time for bed. I wanted to sleep good. The reason I was so careless about paying attention to everything else was that on Saturday we got our second opportunity to play before ROKY ERICKSON. Our good buddy Ben Tipton really hooked us up. The Burgermania show on Saturday was killer. You can’t go wrong booking like 100 bands on four stages. With those numbers you’ll definitely come across something awesome. John Wesley Coleman played a really killer set and American Shark is definitely worth a listen. I know that’s only two out of 100 but who fuckin cares?! ROKY fuckin ERICKSON was playing!

We set up while J Wesley was playing on the stage next to us. All I could think was come on guys… let’s hurry this up… We played a good set that day. I’d actually say it was our most solid performance. Then here came the dude. Roky was in good form that day. He played one of the best sets I’ve ever seen from him. He even busted some killer 13th Floor Elevator tunes. “Reverberation” really got the crowd going. My band and I were stoked. We closed out our list of gigs with a winner.

I could’ve written all about the gross hipsters, long lines and shitty repetitive bullshit music that’s just played because a bunch of dumb young shit heads want to show off their new haircuts and minimal knowledge of the Kinks and Velvet Underground but I didn’t. We all know that shit was there. Later.

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