SXSW Aftermath: Sleigh Bells, Man or Astro Man, Liars, and finding a quiet moment in the madness

Categories: SXSW
Photo by Andrew Flanagan
Day 2 at SXSW
March 18, 2010

SXSW makes you feel like a pervert. After a decade of winter, all grey and snow and parka, the skin on offer makes your tears well...this is no mirage. Every shape, color, and genre is accounted for, and after a day of beer your thoughts take a turn to the abhorrent. I'm not speaking to any gender in particular either; whatever you're into you'll find a million, all fucking hot. I'm not a creep. Honest.

I arrived late into Liars set at Club Deville, the tent packed and weirdly relaxed. Packaged as a sort of art experiment, Liars drift in and out of minimal meditatives and ululating headpunk, the sort of music best heard three-fourths high and one quarter drunk. I was neither, unfortunately, having had to beeline straight to the stage to catch what was the most professional set of the day. Their singer is a commanding, greatly odd-faced and tall shapeshifter who doesn't sing very well (even in falsetto) and that doesn't matter. His crazed finger repeatedly pointing at you, staring cockeyed and head-tilt, is a tractor beam, pulling and punching. Meanwhile the band barely head's all business. They are far cooler than this festival usually allows.

While Liars ended, two blocks south in an on-street patio Fucked Up was getting their gear in order as the crowd swelled and the smelly kids began to arrive. Their singer is a big bastard, obviously a very nice dude, owning the tiny allotted square as leaves rained down, reverbed off the roof. How wonderfully they messed up: four songs in a row were stopped halfway through, the guitarist busting out the opening lick of "Mansard Roof" (or something), dripping sarcasm all over us. "We're opening for Hole tomorrow night." Jesus...what happened to hardcore? A pack of nice Canadians. Whut. Anon.

I met up with some friends after slugging a plastic cup filled to the brim with Southern Comfort (delicious! -ly free), making our way through 6th St, merrily merrily to a bar named Lovejoy. What I didn't know then but know now is that Lovejoy is the best bar in the entire world. The jukebox is free and stacked: Murder City Devils' first record ("Boom Swagger Boom"), Crucifix, The Germs, Man Or Astro-Man? (you'll hear about them soon), the beer and whiskey is $2, the staff has facial tattoos but are still nice as can be, and a gorgeously putrescent mural the subject of which is somewhere around the seventh circle of notes read this to me: "tortured tree with eye stare medusa bottle of vodka dude on a spit." So yeah. We were here for hours, the respite from live music wholly welcome. So so welcome.

Walking trough a bathroom hallway, one kind girl leans to a sick-looking little lady, gestures towards the men's bathroom and says: "Can you throw up in the sink?" Aw.

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