I am taking a kind of low key Fear and Loathing approach to SXSW this year. It is the Kentucky Derby of rock 'n roll but I don't think I can do that many drugs. I'm not going to try. I grew up in Austin, so I've got a decent home field advantage. I've always seen the festival from the production side of things; knowing how hard everyone works and how drunk everyone gets. I'm excited to have a badge for once.

My trusty partner and 405 photographer Ashley Stanford picked me up at 8:45 in the morning to get our badges and register our cameras. The convention center was not that big of a mess yet! We checked out the trade show and saw some neat stuff. I highly recommend the NASA booth.

I took a nap and a shower and biked over to Hotel Vegas. Slothrust (Brooklyn, NY) was playing on the patio stage and they were great. I'm not sure on how to describe them really, but it was dark and hard in a kind of gentle, tiptoe-y way. They managed to be kind of droney but interestingly so. I'm a fan.

Unlocking the Truth (Brooklyn, NY) played next (they also played Fun Fun Fun Fest back in November). These kids rip. It is some Sabbath-y kinda almost-sludgey metal in like a '70s way. It would sound very good coming out of a big van with a wizard or a dragon airbrushed on the side. I'm trying to avoid a "they're great for their age" kind of statement but it's kinda worth noting. Having once been a 13-year-old with a guitar, I can attest that they are quite talented.

The night on the patio folded with Thee Oh Sees (San Francisco, CA), who I think are required to play Hotel Vegas at least twice during SXSW every year. Ain't complainin'. They had two drummers this time. They were really great. The lineup looked like it had completely changed, save John Dwyer. Does this mean they are still broken up? Who knows. Not me. It was a good show.

I left Hotel Vegas with a friend to get tattooed on Dirty Sixth. It is the big drinking district, where the majority of SXSW events occur and where a lot of venues are situated. It is loud, dirty, smelly and obnoxious, so naturally I am intimately familiar with it. Sometimes angry white men will stand on street corners shouting about Jesus and how everyone is going to Hell. Other times there is Goat, the guy who wears a Texas flag thong and plays the guitar at people all up and down the street. Goat is a nice guy. If there was a spot to set up a lawn chair and just people watch, I would do it.

We didn't get tattoos and then my friend went home. This was only midnight!

The rest of the night was a good amount of fun. I ran into some friends from Mother Falcon and we ended up dancing in their living room until like 4 AM. Try to catch one of their shows this week - 16 piece chamber orchestral pop. I don't really know what music theory sounds like but apparently they use a lot of it. You might have seen their Tiny Desk Concert at NPR's music office. If Mother Falcon is Dr. Jekyll, then Sip Sip is Mr. Hyde, with some serious costumes and funky dance party music featuring most of the same members and lots of horns. It's really, really fun. They only played one show this week, and it was tonight at Empire, but keep an ear out for them.

The night finally ended at 5:00 AM. I remembered it was still only Tuesday morning and immediately got a headache. Yet I have a good feeling about this year. There are still lots of bands I've never heard of on the way, and I want to see and hear as many of them as possible. Say hi if you're in town and bring extra earplugs!



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