Frontier Psychiatrist

South by Southwest Journal: Volume 4

Posted on: March 22, 2012

Goodbye SXSW

Let’s face it: South by Southwest is exhausting.  4 days of 15-hour live music orgies is enough to enervate even the spryest of striplings, particularly when accompanied by a diet composed solely of barley and hops.  Our last day at SXSW began on the slow side, with a trip out to legendary BBQ castle Salt Lick, where this particular editor ordered the “all you can eat” plate, and where the FP staff learned that I cannot in fact eat very much.  But, while our start was slow, our finish was fast and furious, filled with riotous crowds, unruly performers, and lots of great, great music.

After rolling back into town we headed over to East Austin to check out California punks Ceremony, and they did not disappoint.  As always, the band put on a raucous performance that harkened back to the days of DC and Dischord.  Highlights included vocalist Ross Farrar trying to shake down the tent, numerous crowd member swan-dives from the two-story amps, and lead guitarist Ryan Mattos’ blonde pompadour, but nothing warmed my heart more than the site of red-headed 10-year-old at the front of the stage who knew seemingly every lyric, and who on multiple occasions got to share Farrar’s mic.

Ross Farrar and the Ginger. You can barely see him, but he's there.

Now punked into oblivion, we chose to head over to the Brooklyn Vegan show at the fantastic Hotel Vegas for some badly needed hip-hop.  The first act we saw was Spaceghostpurrp, a 21-year-old cloud rapper from Miami who is probably best known for his production on A$AP Rocky’s debut.  I had not been impressed with his solo material in the past, but his performance was outstanding, delivering the kind of laid-back funk that can bring even the most graceless of crowds to move in lock-step with the beat.  Also, it inspired me to incorporate the world “trill” into my vocabulary.

Spaceghostpurrp on the mic at SXSW

And then came the 10 minutes of ferocity for which none of us were prepared.  I have made passing reference to the frightening power of Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire before, but nothing could have prepared me for the madness  of the man’s onstage presence. Taking the stage with at least half a dozen of his associates, one of whom was kind enough to bring a bottle of Jack Daniels and pour shots for the crowd, eXquire tore through an unfortunately abbreviated set of his best tracks, entering the audience at several points to share the mike with the frenzied crowd.  At one point, someone on stage poured liquor all over me.  In short: the man was trill. (?)

Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire @ SXSW

Following this performance was one by Queens rapper/master chef Action Bronson, but unfortunately we received a false rumor that he had cancelled, so instead we headed over to Hotel Vegas’s third stage where New York rockers GUARDS were set to play.  It is rare that I have heard nothing of a band’s music, but I had heard nothing of GUARDS, particularly surprising given that frontman Richie Follin is the brother of Cults‘ lead singer Madeline.  To my detriment, I always approach unknown acts with a veil of skepticism, but GUARDS blew that veil right off my face.  A sort of odd mix between a shoegaze band and a jam band, the group’s wall-of-sound approach to live music flooded the room with energy and beauty.  I was so impressed that I immediately downloaded their 2010 eponymous EP and their brief Covers EP, featuring songs by Metallica, Vampire Weekend, and M.I.A. (to give you an idea).  It was truly one of the revelatory moments for which SXSW was built.


At this point, I was running on fumes, and I decided to leave the coverage of late night events (like what would become the A$AP Rocky fiasco) to my younger colleagues.  Instead I went to the south side of town (called “SoCo” for “South Congress,” although whether by natives or just real estate agents is not clear) fully intending to have some tacos and call it a night.  Instead, as I walked out of Guero’s Taco Bar toward the bus stop, I overheard the faint strains of a song I had listened to in college countless times, Built to Spill’s “Distopian Dream Girl.”  And what do you know: there they were.  In all their sensitive slacker glory, Doug Martsch and his unassuming crew, tearing through song after glorious song.  The band that had done more than any other to arouse in me a love for “indie rock,” the band that taught me that the guitar could be demure and majestic all at once, and they were standing there shredding on some restaurant’s deck.  Needless to say, I missed that bus.

And therein lies the beauty of South by Southwest.  While at times it can seem like nothing but a playpen for foppish industry assholes, a media brothel where real fans are made to think they’re having fun by standing in line for six hours to see Skrillex, in fact nothing could be further from the truth.  For South by Southwest is nothing less than an encapsulation of the city of Austin itself, a city whose arteries pulse with the vitality of music, where turntable, guitar, and accordion are all recognized and embraced as branches on one giant family tree.  South by Southwest is a place where, whether large or small, arena-ready or garage -enfettered, there is always another band around the corner.  And the tacos are pretty good too.

Built to Spill @ SXSW

L.V. Lopez is co-editor of Frontier Psychiatrist.  


4 Responses to "South by Southwest Journal: Volume 4"

Great article. You captured Austin and SXSW well.

Really glad that you ended up liking Guards.

[…] is something of an anomaly.  As we learned earlier this year from his performance at South by Southwest, the man is something of a solitary figure, an introvert insofar as anyone who stands in front of […]

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L.V. Lopez, Publisher
Keith Meatto, Editor-In-Chief
Peter Lillis, Managing Editor
Freya Bellin
Andrew Hertzberg
Franklin Laviola
Gina Myers
Jared Thomas
Jordan Mainzer


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