Austin, TX: 3/19/04
Friday started late, with Pat DiNizio on the day stage pushing yet another copy protection scheme, one that looks like one more challenge to bored crackers everywhere to spend an afternoon writing a little script to blow the whole thing to smithereens… Still, Pat sang a few songs, in fine form as ever.
Petty Booka… Too small a joke.
Off to the Continental to see Mary McBride at the Bug Music happy-hour do. Name dropping: Patricia Vonne, David Berger, Benny Landa, Bruce Martin, Walter Salas-Humara are in the audience. Dan Baird is Mary’s guest for a few songs, starting with his Bottle and a Bible until he has to be reminded that … er … he’s supposed to be across the street at Yard Dog to play with his own band, The Yayhoos at the Bloodshot Records party. He hurries off the stage, while Mary and the band carry on bringing honky-tonk to the mother of all honky-tonks –or one of them at least.
A quick look at The Yayhoos, and it’s time to head back downtown. Somewhere along the way Linus joins me and we catch Electric Turn To Me at the Lava Lounge. They start swishy and surly, then a sudden shock and they turn angular and twitchy. Not arresting, but probably worth another look when there’s more time. For now, however, it’s first a miss: There’s a line for the Willard Grant Conspiracy at the Ritz. I saw them recently in New York, so instead we head off to Exodus for another look at Coco Rosie. They’re from New York, and have been playing in pretty serious venues, but when I saw them first at the Knitting Factory I wasn’t thrilled. They still blend an operatic voice with a pop voice full of wobbles, they still display an excessive fondness for noisy toys. There’s clearly something there, but it rarely emerges, except in the last number with the voices in unison over prerecorded tapes. They’re just too arty for my taste; maybe they need to listen to some Robert Johnson first.
Moving along, Jennifer Glass, at the Pecan Street Ale House (Rant: They call themselves “ale house” but all they have is mass-market crappy lager; before they changed owners a couple of years ago, this was one of the only two regular venues in Austin with an excellent beer selection –the other being the Elephant Room. Now it’s all fizzy piss.). Jennifer is accompanied by the esteemed Rich Ferridun on guitar, which is how we heard of her in the first place. She’s tall, she’s thin, she’s not blonde like on her web site, she has a big, bluesy voice, and this stripped down gig was obviously a serious departure from her previous dance/trance tunes. I liked the sound of it but I must hurry on to …
Scout Niblett at Buffalo Billiards. She’s small, she’s thin, she’s blonde, and she’s all alone on that big stage. When I arrive, she’s manhandling a <voice=”Viv Stanshall”>Heavily Distorted Electric Guitar</voice> in front of rapt girls who mouth the lyrics to the songs. Nice, but I think she should try using a bass instead of a guitar; I have a feeling the result would be nicer.
What do you say about a band whose sound-check song is better than the rest of the set? Swearing At Motorists is a duo from Ohio; at least they were not shooting at motorists, so that’s good, but we take it as a sign to get out of there and head west for a beer at the Bitter End.
The Bitter End is an excellent brewpub and restaurant; tonight, we’ll stick to the brewpub side of the operation: During the entire run of SXSW they have extra-festival bands in the side bar, and the Dexter Romweber Duo provides the soundtrack to an hour of R&R; then we’re on our feet again. We say hello to Jeff Pachman and Megan Hinckey on our way out, and along the way to the Crowne Plaza to see Trish Murphy, we catch two songs by Megan Reilly at the Ritz Balcony; one sounds like the Rolling Stones circa Fingerprint File, the other is a light ballad. Who’s the real Megan, we’ll have to find out on another day, for we’re moving along toward I-35. [Read more about it just below; it's not worth a link for such a short jump.]