A Serious Saturday @ SXSW

Monotonix Moons Us, Bedouin Soundclash Blows Us Away, and Other Austin Highlights

When Friday night’s bedtime becomes a working man’s Saturday wake-up hour, you’re in for a late, slow start. So after ingesting a retinue of available weekend midday TV – 40-Year-Old Virgin, UFO shows, Bobby Flay throwing down over chicken fried steak, etc. – we finally got the collective ball rolling around 5 p.m. on Saturday here in Austin, finally ready for another eclectic helping of today’s best musical acts.

Waterloo Park: Under the watchful eye of the classic capitol building – Austin, by the way, has one of the more impressive city skylines out there – this grassy, creek-lined park is a free venue during South By Southwest called “Mess with Texas.” More festival scene than club, it’s probably a lot like Austin City Limits, the music fest that happens every fall in a different, much larger park on the other side of town. Seems like a generally nice place to kick it too.

Monotonix: Needs to be seen to be believed. Israeli outfit, in which lead singer begins show by throwing trash, water bottles, water, anything available on crowd. Crowd loves it. Scantily clad (and not in a good way), hairy singer jumps into crowd, rather violently, crowd-surfs, sits on drummer’s drum while being held up by everyone, who happen to be exploding with joy. After couple songs, he stands atop drum, and pulls down his gold lycra undies to moon entire city. Luckily, we were backstage, and only caught the sideview of his rump. There was a massive line for their 1 a.m. showcase downtown, which we skipped. Follow them here.

Photos © Erica Urech

Outhouse: Place to go to the bathroom, unless you’re backstage at Waterloo Park, and the one closest to the stage has been, well, overused. So much so, in fact, that it gets turned around and adorned with a cardboard sign that says, “You Don’t Have to Piss This Bad.” I didn’t.

Serrano’s Tex-Mex joint a few blocks down from Waterlook Park. Inside, the food was so-so and the service was crappy. But outside, it’s the coolest venue I’ve seen yet: naturally carved amphitheater facing a creek, with the stage on the other side of the water. Pretty, great sound, should be place for filmed concerts. Very San Antonio-ish, I’m told. Visit the restaurant’s site.

Not Knowing Band Names: On the way in and out of eating at Serrano’s, we saw a couple bands briefly, and both were solid. However, as happens all the time here at SXSW, we couldn’t find their names anywhere accessible, and when I asked around, no one knew either. But everyone was digging it. Something’s cool about that.

Jackalope: Cheap bar on the middle of Sixth Street, good for re-watering. But don’t be like two dudes I saw, and go into the Doe bathroom rather than the Buck one. They might make you ride the giant-sized jackalope out front. I’ve never seen one that big in real life.

Ezra Furman and the Harpoons: Playing at the club Submerged – apparently the cleanest, most Manhattan-ish club in Austin – these guys played a couple really cool songs to a not very big crowd, namely “Take Off Your Sunglasses” (“In the middle of the night / everybody loves everybody these days : “). Audience enjoyed immensely, and listening to it again this morning, I want to go back. He’s got a Neil Young-ish voice, in a new way. Listen.

Arkells: Happened to catch these guys play before Bedouin Soundclash, and they were great. All over the stage rockin’, had the crowd going. Another one where I had to ask around about their name, but turns out that the labels are in a bidding war over them as we listened. It’s a battle worth fighting. Check out these Canucks from Hamilton, Ontario.

Bedouin Soundclash: I’d heard a lot about these ska-meets-Perry Farrell-meets-an-original-sound guys ever since Thursday, when we missed them at the Red Bull party, where I also met the bassist. They kicked off at about 1:15 a.m., and proved to be the best act I or most anyone in the party had seen all week. And, according to experienced sources, this was much better even than the other great shows they’d played during SXSW. People were dancing up a sweaty storm, everyone was smiling, and everyone was singing along, especially during their brief “Stand By Me” interlude. Pretty amazing such a big sound can come from a trio with additional horn players. Best sign was that, during their last song, I went to pee, and the bathroom in the jam-packed club was entirely empty. Plus, even when peeing, I couldn’t stop doing my skank-dance. Bring these Toronto dudes, who apparently got some industry connections with the help of Santa Barbara’s own Mad Caddies, to Santa Barbara ASAP. And the guys are chill fellows too. But their stuff now.

Purevolume House: Similar to the Red Bull fiascos of both nights before, this is a sponsored party, which means the booze and tunes keep flowing after the 2 a.m. shutdown time. But this one is right downtown. Backers, other than Purevolume.com, include Monster energy drink and Sweet Leaf tea. Learn more.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes: After being thoroughly enthused by Bedouin Soundclash-and having told them that, including the lead singer, who came with us to the Purevolume party – I wasn’t prepared to be mesmerized again. This band had the longest sound check I’d ever seen (not their fault, of course, presumably the sound guy’s), but that’s also because there was like a small town on stage: various drums, requisite stringed instruments, hot chick playing accordion, and more. When finally playing, it appeared as if the band itself – a folky, almost gospelly rock sensation rounded out by that full world music sound – was continually being enlightened by the lead singer’s energy and singular poise. Or maybe, like me, they just couldn’t quite figure out how his hair worked. Once in full swing, they felt like a cult that I wanted to join. I wouldn’t say they overtook my Bedouin bewilderment, but they had me moving again, and everyone else. Support ’em.

Ice Cream Trucks: Good band name, but this isn’t about music. The trucks themselves are apparently alive and well in this corner of South Austin where I’m staying, ‘cuz they roll by the house every 20 minutes, it seems.

Today’s Agenda: Barbecue at The Salt Lick, maybe some Frisbee golf, and maybe more music tonight. If no more music though, this will be the last up-to-date post. However, lots of short videos of all the aforementioned bands (from Metallica to Bedouin Soundclash) to come.


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