Lemmy, Tobacco, Dark Castle, and more from Day One of SXSW
After breakfast tacos with friends I biked (forty-four blocks...I mention this only to point out that I haven't had any meaningful exercise in at least six months) into downtown, picked up my badge, and began ringing up friends. When you ring up friends during SXSW the odds are 9:1 that they'll be within a 6-block radius all centered on 6th Street straddling highway 35.
Other than drinking free beer and ignoring whatever vanilla rock was going on in the background, the first band ("band") of the day was Black Moth Super Rainbow svengali and songwriter, Tobacco. It was around 1:45PM in a crowded tent, everyone bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This is not an environment most conducive to seeing a band predicated on being tripped out, alone, and both. It was far too early for the psychedelics or prescription pills necessary for absolute communion but it was still lovely, all thick bass and vocoder and synth synth synth, Tobacco wearing what I called an asian "V" mask, one keyboardist from Black Moth and a guitarist in tow, Tobacco holding down the ground as he does.
I crossed the street and got in a sizable line (anything worth seeing is going to have a line comparable to the Batman ride at Six Flags on a Saturday afternoon) in front of Emo's for Brooklyn Vegan's expertly curated showcase. Dark Castle, a two-piece from Florida, do not fuck around: frontlady Stevie had a cup of goddamn coffee on stage. They play a black sludge similar in viscosity to T1000, making your head slow bang and sending that dude behind the counter in your favorite head shop into a conniption. The singer/guitarist screamed as good as any black metal frontman, hitting that eye-cross pitch...they're married, they own a tattoo shop, and I bet their sex life is incredible.
Titus Andronicus struck me not as tired but holding back in the seriously cramped outside stage at Emo's...I've seen them perform three times before this, Patrick Stickles completely insane hanging from rafters running into the crowd swaying and thrashing guitar. Granted, there were no rafters and the crowd was far too dense for a run at it, but the energy was noticeably curtailed. Also noticeable was what I thought a completely new band behind the front man; just as young and adorable as the last, but minus that rhythm guitarist with the stagelight set up I liked. Titus Andronicus forever! Or so!
I headed to the convention center for what was the crowning event of the day: an interview with Lemmy of the Vicars. And Motorhead (fucking Motorhead). Besides a traffic delay that let me focus too much on what intro music they were playing (Arcade Fire, AC/DC, and The Wailers), it was exactly what I expected. What I expected: some shitty interviewer to lob softies at Lemmy and wait for the quotes to issue forth. And so:
Lemmy's first word, before the interviewer was even underway: "So?"
Lemmy on Jazz: "Fuck 'em."
Lemmy on one of his signature basses selling for $18,000: "What's the matter with people? Are they fucking stupid?"
Lemmy on acid, Pt. 1: "We went through a phase where we'd spike the punch bowl."
Lemmy on acid and being a roadie for Hendrix, Pt. 2: "I'd find him acid, give him ten he'd take seven and give me 3. Nice guy."
Lemmy on having Johnny Rotten come up to him and acid, Pt. 3: "Some geezer with long hair and trousers came up to me after a show: 'I used to sell acid at your show!'"
Lemmy on record companies: "These people are so fucking dumb."
Lemmy on punk's genesis: "This guy can't sing...oh he's actually trying to be obnoxious, which I like."
After the short interview the day slowly swirled into a mess of back-and-forth between the brilliantly branded, spiritually empty, and prodigiously boozed Fader Fort (Nas!), 6th St, a friend's hotel, 6th St...ending somewhere around the time The Guystorm initiated a dance off that eventually involved a leprechaun.
Overheard biking by a rickshaw around 3:15am: "I was getting along with this girl all night and was gonna give her a rose but super didn't." Don't be that guy.