Text & Photos by Michael Passman
Pre SXSW (bonus beats): South by Southwest starts earlier every year and is so big that for the six weeks before, everyone’s either waiting or just getting ready. However, The Hives played three weeks before the mayhem with The Fleshlights, then the ultimate treat was The Reigning Sound a few days before the music segment of SXSW with local favorites The Ugly Beats and The Crackpipes opening up. Former local cock rockers Rockland Eagles also sneak a show in. It’s the only time the band plays since the lead singer lives in New York while the rest reside here.
(above and below) Hives
Pic 3: The Fleshlights
Pic 4: The Ugly Beats
Pic 5: The Crackpipes
Pic 6: Reigning Sound
SXSW Day One and Two: With SXSW starting Tuesday this year, preparations were made early. One could not think of a better way to start the almost week long smorgasbord of music than with local Love cover band, Forever Changes, made up of members of The Ripe and The Ugly Beats. It becomes a local psych/garage family affair with members of The Black Angels stopping in to share in the music.
Pic 1: Forever Changes
A short walk around the corner was Korea Night at local goth club Elysium. Likely on reputation of attendance at Japan Night, Korea Night was packed wall to wall. Pop punkers No Brain gave a crowd roaring set. Also playing that evening was Galaxy Express, a great garage rock band that played shows every day during the festival and were hopefully noticed.
Pic 2: No Brain
Pic 3. Galaxy Express
The Stooges played Wednesday. The Stooges? There goes the rest of the week. All you need is The Stooges. The Woggles, The Ripe, and Amplified Heat shared a rather colorful day stage at The Sahara earlier that day. The Nightbeats were also on the bill, but were missed to get in line early for The Stooges.
Pic 4: The Ripe
Pic 5: The Woggles
Pic 6: The Woggles
Pic 7: Amplified Heat
Japandroids took the honor of opening up for The Stooges and their performance showed it. All bets were off when their set ended. It’s The Stooges playing at The Mohawk. Not exactly a dive, but a small club nonetheless which rivaled their other performances at much larger venues. Iggy laughed, smiled, and loved the crowd, often stage diving to the strong disapproval of his handlers as well as his contract. The set was a mix of mostly the first album, Raw Power, and a number of new songs from their upcoming album on Fat Possum Records. The new stuff was really good.
Pic 8: The Stooges
Pic 9: The Stooges
A “suburban” punk band from Sacramento played next. It was formulaic and the crowd cheered only when they left the stage since The Specials were next. Despite breaking up around 30 years ago, The Specials are legendary. Every year, a crop of young rude girls and boys discover Two-Tone and mod up. As someone who was one of those kids nearly 30 years ago, it was gratifying to see a much younger generation laying claim to The Specials as “their band.” Despite Jerry Dammers and Neville not being in the lineup, it still felt like The Specials and not a reunion. With the opening “Do The Dog” and a set of songs mostly from the first album, the crowd happily sang along through the whole set. It would have been cool to hear “Ghostown,” though.
Pic 10: The Specials
Pic 11: The Specials
It was only midnight. A short walk over to The Chicken Ranch showcase with The Woggles in different uniform from their performance earlier that day, followed by Peelander Z, who’ve had much talk surrounding Peelander Red’s retirement to teach Ninja High School. Donning new animal masks, Peelander Purple as The Purple Rhino emerged with the band and carried the thrilled crowd into the morning hours with lots of crowd participation as well as contributions from members of Tiger!Tiger!, who played the showcase earlier that evening.
Pic 12: Peelander Z
Pic 13: Peelander Z
SXSW Day 3: Shannon and The Clams, The Anomalys, and Los Vigilantes started off the day with great sets at Slovenly Records Showcase at The Legendary White Swan.
Pic 1: Shannon & The Clams
Pic 2: The Anomalys
Pic 3: The Los Vigilantes
The remainder of the day/night was taken up with Levitation. Impressive sets and performances by The Allah Las, The Black Lips, Spindrift, The Nightbeats, The Oh Sees, and The Go. The standout performance of the day was Elephant Stone, who reminds one what SXSW really is all about. Finding a band that really moves you.
Pic 4: The Allah Las
Pic 5: The Black Lips
Pic 6: Crowd surfing with The Black Lips
Pic 6: Spindrift
Pic 7: Nightbeats
Pic 8: Thee Oh Sees
Pic 9: Rishi Dhir from Elephant Stone levitating
SXSW Day 4: A lot happened already and it was now Friday. The afternoon went quickly with The Mullens and Bipolaroid at Counter Culture, followed by Blurt & Dogfish Head’s Industry of Music Showcase eat The Ginger Man with an ultimate supergroup: The Split Squad. Composed of Keith Streng from The Fleshtones, “Fast” Eddie Munoz from The Plimsouls, Scott McCaughey from Young Fresh Fellows, Michael Giblin of Parallax Project, and Josh Kantor from The Baseball Project. It was quite a show. The next surprise was Go Go and Austin native Kathy Valentine with her band The Bluebonnets. The rest of Friday? One should take at least one break with a good night’s sleep. This was the night.
Pic 1: The Mullens
Pic 2: Bipolaroid
Pic 3: “Fast” Eddie Munoz from The Split Squad…playin’ fast
Pic 4: The Split Squad
Pic 5: Keith Streng in the air and on the tables. Not a glass broken.
Pic 6: Kathy Valentine of The Bluebonnets
SXSW Day 5: The day took an early start with The Zombies at noon. Following them was Mikal Cronin, who’s been cutting his chops touring with Ty Segall for the past 2 years and is a great artist to watch for the next few years.
Pic 1: The Zombies
Pic 2: The Zombies
Pic 3: Mikal Cronin
Then back to Blurt/Dogfish Head’s Industry Of Music Showcase (Ginger Man Pub) for a great day with Chris Stamey of The dB’s. Mike Mills and Scott McCaughey joined him on stage for a few songs. The Relatives, a psychedelic gospel band then gave a rousing set.
Pic 4: Chris Stamey
Pic 5: The Relatives
Pic 6: The Relatives
Next was s short set from Ken Stringfellow. Late afternoon culminated with Robyn Hitchcock’s 60th Birthday Party with special guests including Linda Pitmon (Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3), Scott McCaughey, Ken Stringfellow, and Bill Rieflin. Robyn always commands a crowd, but he treats the crowd as equal in intelligence. He’s opened up for punk bands in years past and always has the audience giving him their undivided attention. The set list included Queen Elvis, A Man’s Gotta Know His Limitations, an incredible version of Airscape, and a few Beatles and Bowie surprises. At the end of a performance, Robyn was presented with a birthday cake by the Blurt and Dogfish Head folks – train and tarantula included.
Pic 7: Ken Stringfellow and Linda Pitmon
Pic 8: Ken’s guests Mike Mills and Scott McCaughey
Pic 9: Robyn Hitchcock using his powers to make the crowd smarter
Pic 10: Robyn
Pic 11: Linda, Robyn, Bill, and Scott
Pic 12. Robyn gets a cake
Pic 13: The cake itself
For the final night of official showcases, Get Hip Recordings had a solid lineup of Bipolaroid, The Ripe, Subsonics, The Ugly Beats, The Mullens, and The Authorities. The SXSW version of The Ripe includes Jorge Explosion of Cerco Perotti Studios (The Cynics, The Urges, Wau Y Los Arghhs, The Fleshtones, Los Peyotes, etc) on guitar, which gives a more expansive, louder enhancement to their power pop. Subsonics played a blistering set, also. Always the standard, The Ugly Beats drew the biggest crowd and had a room full of old garage punks dancing. Despite being the biggest draw of the night, they opted to play early out of admiration for the other bands in the lineup. The Mullens ripped through an incredible set including new material (look for a new Mullens album coming out soon on Get Hip Recordings). The Authorities lived up to their name and felt like a thinking man’s hardcore punk band without the pretension or seriousness. It was pure American hardcore without the heavy trappings.
Pic 14: The Ripe
Pic 15: Subsonics
Pic 16: The Ugly Beats
Pic 17: The Ugly Beats
Pic 18: The Mullens
Pic 19: The Mullens
Pic 20: The Authorities
Pic 21: The Authorities
SXSW 2013 Day 6: Sunday during SXSW isn’t exactly a ghost town, but those who are still around can let their hair down and play without pressure, which means it’s actually fun and not a crazy, hectic endurance test anymore. The Sunday tradition is Uncle Doug’s Chili Dog Fest at The Side Bar. Past performers include Jack Oblivian, The Cynics, and Others. It’s also a great chance for out of towners to see local bands making headlines such as A Giant Dog, Bobby Jealousy, and The Ugly Beats in case their Get Hip Showcase set was missed. This year was quite an undertaking with four stages and a charity Auction., not to mention free chili dogs!
It starts early and goes well into late night. This year, Jason Gentry from The Ugly Beats chipped in on cooking the hot dogs while everybody dove in. Among the great performances were The Jungle Rockers, Hunt Sales Memorial (with Hunt Sales), Bobby Jealousy, The Ugly Beats, The Crack Pipes, December Boys, and an all out mesmerizing set from Amplified Heat, not to mention The Fleshlights. Many of the bands noted are making national headlines, so a few celebs stopped in to watch the fun. Among those attending this year was Kid Congo Powers. Sunday is by far, the most laid back and fun day of SXSW known only to those who stick around.
Pic 1: Makin’ dogs
Pic 2: December Boys
Pic 3: John Wesley Coleman (Golden Boys) and Uncle Doug
Pic 4: Amplified Heat
Pic 5. Hunt Sales Memorial
Pic 6: The Crack Pipes
Pic 7: Chili Doug Festers
Pic 8: Yoshi!
Pic 9: The Jungle Rockers
Pic 10: Gettin’ down with The Ugly Beats