Today is bike to work day. I didn’t bike to work today I drove (I’ve been driving for almost a month) because I’m sort of injured, but for the last 6 years I have ridden my bike to work almost every workday. Despite being hurt I rode to work on Wednesday (because I enjoy riding my bike a million times more than driving…even if it’s pouring rain I would rather ride my bike) and on the way in I was waiting in line at a light (like a car) at 51st and Airport. The light is timed really terribly so that at 8:30 am 2 cars can get through before it changes. So I had to sit through the light twice. While I was waiting the second time an older gentleman in a truck right in front of me says “hey” I didn’t know where the voice came from at first so I looked around puzzledly. So he says “hey” again. So I said “what?” Then he went on to thank me for obeying the law and told me there aren’t many cyclists that do, and that I was a shining beacon of awesomeness (more or less). I thanked him and we parted ways. Of course I expected him to tell me to get out of the road, but I rode the rest of the way to work thinking that dude was pretty ok. I used to run red lights and ride like a jackass, but after enough close calls I decided I should cool it. Besides cyclists riding like jackasses are a big reason lots of motorists hate cyclists. I read this article earlier about how to not kill a cyclist. I found it pretty right on and perhaps some motorists might enjoy it. When I see a motorist run a red light I think what a jackass, but I don’t hold it against every motorist because I am a motorist. When I see a cyclist run a red light I think what a jackass, but I don’t hold it against every cyclist because I am a cyclist. Anyway just try to be decent to each other out there.
SXSW interactive summed up. From my perspective the interwebz have businesses scared. The music industry is scared and trying to figure out a way to make money. The publishing industry is scared and trying to figure out a way to make money. MP3s will be the death of the cd but vinyl records will make a come back because people like to collect actual objects. Ebooks will be the death of books and people will go back to collecting stamps. Blogs have given people the ability to self publish. Music sites like band camp, soundcloud etc have given bands a way to self publish. Algorithms can guess what the next song you want to hear is…usually with hilarious results. Algorithms will be the death of DJs and the album. So has the need for curators diminished? Were publishers and music labels good curators anyway? Depends on your taste I guess. As everyone gets comfortable sharing all of their personal information marketers and advertisers will continue to guess what consumers want. Consumers are a finicky bunch though so it will still be hard to do. Naked pictures of celebrities and people in the public spotlight will continue to be an easy sell though…and the iPhone will continue to help make that happen until the world finally ends later this year.
The music portion summed up. I played three shows and saw a bunch more. Played on Tuesday which I posted pics of already. One on Wednesday at Iron Bear (Our sets were great but I am not here to talk about my own band…soon enough when we are opening for Jimmy Buffet you will know all about us) with Edie Sedgwick who are great and Shit and Shine also great. Shit and Shine are always pretty far out they used a drum throne to make noise through a microphone then ran that through effects pedals to make terrible good sounds. The ladies hated it, my band mates and I loved it. Some of the crowd booed, the sound guy turned the PA off but they had enough speakers of their own to noisily carry on. Sometimes you have to wonder if the sound guys at SXSW are just angry failed musicians on a power trip. I have seen them turn off sound for numerous bands over the years. I think they hate fun.
Thursday was Scoot Inn I saw Deerhoof who I had never seen before they were ok…I have been a fan for a long time but I was not that impressed. Thee Oh Sees who I have seen at least 6 times were great as usual. I came to the realization while watching all of the young kids dance and sort of have a pit, that Thee Oh Sees are those youngsters equivalent of Fugazi or The Jesus Lizard. It felt good knowing that they are out there continuing to put on stellar performances. Andrew WK who I now call Andrew WWF was terrible but he could rally the crowd and people were excited about him. My brothers fiancé told us we didn’t like it because we hate fun. I do hate fun it is true, catch me running sound at SXSW next year.
Friday at Trailer Space Records. I saw Dope Body they just got on Drag City so they have a bit of buzz they were ok but I saw better bands. Spray Paint tricked me with their first song it was sort of quiet so I took my earplugs out but by the end of the set I realized that I should have left the earplugs in. They destroyed my eardrums in a good way. Same Sack had two Iron Sausages each (an Iron Sausage is what we call an 8×10 bass cabinet) and one head for each cabinet. Two bass players one drummer, King Coffey, of the Butthole Surfers. I knew better than to not wear earplugs for their set. The auto tuned vocals are great and very smart commentary on the music industry. A sludge band with auto tuned vocals who would have thought. I love seeing guys in their 40’s still making music that is risky and doing it well. After Same Sack were Puffy Aerolas I had never seen them before and they were really great but I didn’t get to see their entire set because the ladies needed nourishment. So to Kome we went and ate octopus dumplings…super good fun day.
Saturday I did the most rock star thing ever…yard work. Then we played a show at The Grackle. ZZZs from Japan played before us they were awesome. They took pictures of our set we hope this means they want us to tour Japan with them. There was a really weird house next door to the Grackle. We couldn’t figure out if anyone lived in or if it was rented just for SXSW there was a pool, hot tub and a keg of beer. We hung out over there after the show. I drank too many beers.
Sunday. Brunch at Yellow Jacket I watched my friend play old time music, which is what some people call shitty bluegrass. It was a nice antithesis to all of the noise I saw earlier in the week. Then I did more rock star stuff like laundry and grocery shopping. I was tempted to go to Beerland and see more bands last night but I am old now and need more beauty sleep.
My head hurts. SXSW interactive is over I don’t want to hear about code or clouds or location based blah blah blah for at least the next 5 days. Bring on the music. Being in a band seems glorious right. You haul a ton of stuff around get some free drink tickets for 2 PBRs. Set up all of your stuff as fast as possible. PLAY (this is the good part). Then get everything off as fast as possible so the next band can play. Then some girl says, (while you’re trying to get gear off stage) “That was really great. What are your influences?” Then you say “I listen to a lot of dub”. Then she walks off. Your an old bald married dude with a bad back so who cares right? Deep down you’re wondering…did she think I meant dubstep? Then you remember you still have to load the van.
^^^^^^^^^^Nate’s bloody bass.
Bikes get front row parking during SXSW. It’s sort of hectic to ride around downtown if you aren’t used to riding in traffic, but luckily cyclists downtown are pretty common so people are normally understanding. If you are up for it you can get a Tern bike from SXcycles if you have a Platinum, Gold, Interactive or Film badge. I talked to one of the guys who built the bikes for the festival he said they have 150 available and hopefully more next year. I saw him outside of Hoboken Pies he was fixing a flat for someones bike…he also mentioned that since he built the bikes he thought he had probably done some sort of maintenance on every single one. You have one day left to take advantage.
Throughout SXSW interactive there seems to be a pervading theme that good design is better than throwing in all the bells and whistles just because they exist. The first two things I went to were This Will Blow Your Mind: The Prius Inspired Bike and Size Matters : Why Little Houses Are So Awesome. After thinking about these two panels for a bit I feel like they are sort of at polar opposites.
The Prius bike seemed like an exercise in excess. Sure shifting with your brain seems like it could have some potential especially for disabled people (another common theme through sxsw…web accessibility) but the bike itself was designed terribly. I have seem some Parlee bikes and I know he can design good bikes, but this thing missed the mark. When I think of the Prius I think of a car for the masses that is reliable and uses technology in a good way. This bike was basically not rideable for anyone but a pro cyclist and even then it looked like a joke bike. The riding position was laughable…the drops of the bars unreachable without needing a team of chiropractors on call. (A little secret, pro cyclists will be fast on a 30 pound 3 speed…cause being fast ain’t about the bike) A novice/intermediate cyclist couldn’t ride it more than 5 miles. Are aero lightweight carbon tubes and hidden brakes really more efficient if a normal person can’t ride it? The EEG shifting (with your brain) seemed like it would be less efficient than normal shifting, which still uses your brain by sending signals to your fingers to shift. I would have been more impressed if they had perfected the EEG shifting on a bike that was actually designed well for a normal cyclist instead of bringing an expensive toy that was obviously not for the masses.
The second panel insisted good design should be at the core of house designs. Jay Shafer the speaker lived in a 100 square foot space for numerous years and still does. Sure, he seemed a bit eccentric but he had good design down. There is no way anyone can live in a tiny space without having to think out how things should work together. He also seemed more in line with what green should be…a subtractive process. Create less waste not more. He went in to how codes and zoning for cities are set up against people actually being able to live in small spaces…permits are actually unattainable in some cities for houses under 150 square feet. So he built his house on wheels and moved it around or parked it in backyards and called it camping. He figured out unique ways to get around the system and problem solve with graceful results.
These two panels were both extreme but with differing results. Probably everyone would be better off just taking a little bit of this green medicine in smaller doses.
So here you are in Austin the weather is great. It’s like this year round I promise. It never gets above 80 degrees here. You’re thinking WOW all these people, all this music, drinks, it’s like a constant party…do people even have to work here? I should move here. It really is just like Slacker. Well maybe not, but there are still a few Slackeresque places left in Austin and no the Fader Fort isn’t one of them. Trailer Space Records on the other hand is the place to go if you want to check out some awesome free live music, and try to imagine what Austin was like 10-15 years ago. They are having free shows every day during SXSW, but they have free shows almost every day year round. They are one of the best places to see shows, and they have some awesome records for sale. Every night during SXSW there will be at least one band at TSR that is better than Nirvana ever was.
Friday March 16 is the Monofonus Press day party go get your mind blown by all of those bands. If you’ve heard of and like: Wire, Thee Oh Sees (who are playing at TSR….I’ve seen them numerous times and I saw them at TSR last year and it was a sweaty hot mass of people loving every minute), The Jesus Lizard (I don’t think these dudes are gonna play), Scratch Acid (I think David Yow works as a graphic designer at an ad place…can you imagine…but they’re not playing at TSR)…other garage rock, punk or loud music…you should be at this show. Spray Paint is really good.
Thee Oh Sees play on Wednesday. It will probably be like this so get there early.
The list of shows.