Pace Yourself: A First Timer’s View at SXSW

SXSW logo

We’ll take “tacos” for ten bucks: Blurt’s resident “ginger man” bum-rushes the Lone Star State, gets his SXSW cherry busted, and lives to tell us about it….


Before I took the flight to Austin, many people who had been to SXSW before told me these simple words “pace yourself”. For me, being a 27 year old male with a love of live music and indulging in alcohol, these words were thrown to the wind.

With brochure in hand and ambitions to see every band the festival had to offer I ended up at Cheer Up Charlies to see ANAMANAGUCCI play a DJ set to get the crowd amped for the night. Joining them on stage for a brief moment to get the crowd hyped was Peelander Z‘s front-man Peelander Yellow. After the set I decided to set up camp at the bar next door Valhalla. Hosted by Chicken Ranch Records the lineup was stocked with great punk bands. From the local bands Yuppie Pricks and Midnight Towers to Atlanta’s own The Woggles and New York’s Japanese action comedy punk band Peelander Z. Yuppie Pricks left the lasting impression of the night, hiding behind a Styrofoam wall as if Donald Trump built it himself. “Send Tacos Not Rapist” and “This Side Poor” was written in spray paint across the wall immediately grabbing your attention towards the stage and left you wanting to catch a glimpse of the mysterious band behind.

The following day after trying to catch my breath from the night before I started off at The Ginger Man where we host the annual Blurt Magazine day parties. This year was sponsored by the great Texas brewery Karbach Brewing Company. Kicking it off was the Philly-based band The Kickback. The day proceeded to get more interesting as Freedy “Bad Reputation” Johnston took over, leading into Brett Harris and many others. I left as Harris was playing to go catch Guerilla Toss at Cheer Up Charlies, a venue I would come to love during the next couple of days.

Upon arriving there I got to catch the last three songs of Toronto’s Dilly Dally. The three songs I was able to catch had guilted me into wishing I had gotten there at the beginning of their set. After getting sardined into the inside I was able to catch Guerilla Toss from the very back for the small but enjoyable 15 minute set from them. From there, I hustled back to The Ginger Man to catch Supersuckers rip up the stage. The real delight was hearing that it was frontman Eddie Spaghetti‘s birthday. After the set he was delivered a cupcake and the packed crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him. When the set ended I began to make my way to Austin City Limits for my main “headlining” act of the night, Iggy Pop. I made sure to get there as early as possible, for I did not want to miss gaining entrance to what I presumed one of the hardest acts to get into of the festival. I was mistaken and got in with ease and was able to make my way up the rail front and center and I patiently waited for man himself to grace the stage.

The Moonlandingz opened the showcase, which ended up being by far the weirdest band I saw at SXSW. Frontman Lias Saoudi came out with his face covered in what appeared to be Nutella and chunky peanut butter. From then I couldn’t stop thinking if this was homage to Iggy when he supposedly used to cover himself in chocolate pretending to be feces. The Spinal Tap-esqe band absolutely blew the venue away. After the crowd-stunning set ended, the solo artist Noveller came to grace the stage using a series of guitar loops that were soothing but yet complicated. 15 minutes went by and then Iggy Pop with members of Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys hit the stage opening with “Lust for Life”. For the next 2 hours Iggy and his band played the whole new album Post Pop Depression, with old classics mixed in.

Blurt SXSW 2016

Blurt’s Industry Of Music shows at Ginger Man were where I would find my “oasis” during the festival. [Pictured above are the Jon Langford-designed posters for the day parties.] Where I could go and feel welcome from the insanity that ensued outside of the pub. Every band that graced the stage had something that was inspiring, be it Mercury Rev who brought out Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins so that they could share old stories of the good ol’ days, or Eli “Paperboy” Reed who when on stage felt like he was taking you to church with his soulful style of singing.

As the next few days unfolded I would see bands from noon until 2am. A fresh live act about every hour. From hanging out at The Ginger Man and seeing the great Dave Pirner play a Soul Asylum acoustic set, to venturing over 12 blocks to see Car Seat Headrest play a corporate stage.

SXSW is truly an endurance run of how much you can fit in a day. Do you want to see an up and coming hip-hop artist play a huge stage? Do you want to see a punk band destroy a dive bar? Do you want to see a local act that you’ve never heard of? Or do you just want to go get tacos?

Below: the author.




Leave a Reply