Okay. It’s time to be honest with myself. I am not as young or able bodied as i’d like to continue thinking I am. These things happen. I’m just so very, very tired. SXSW has the upper hand now. Whatever you do, don’t look at what’s in the box!
Trying to cram as much music into my brain as i can muster over this week, so I’m just going to have to eek this one out as quickly as possible. In 1998 I had brief, but pretty awesome stint as a deejay at a college radio station, KVRX 91.7 at UT Austin. Among the hordes and scores of bands, artists, and music that I was exposed to during that time, one of my very favorites was Olivia Tremor Control, a group of kids from Louisiana (which happens to be where I’m from) who were a part of the famed Elephant 6 collective, a large group of bands including Neutral Milk Hotel and The Apples in Stereo and many, many others. All of the bands involved pull from various influences, most notably 1960’s pop, psych, and folk. In so many ways Elephant 6 just took what The Beatles started 50 years ago and ran with it.
Last night, a piece of human garbage named Rashad Charjuan Owens got drunk, drove his car, fled from police, and plowed through a blocked off street killing two people and injuring another 23. In light of that, it doesn’t really feel right to go into any detail about all the fun happenings around Austin today. A cloud and a general somberness kind of hung over most of the day’s events, but everyone also just seemed a little friendlier today. There’s a collective numbness that usually occurs after a tragedy, but there can also be a collective oneness as well. Even in the darkness you can feel the love. Thoughts, prayers, and love to everybody.
Huey Lewis and The News are not playing a free show on the roof of Whole Foods. Daft Punk are not playing a free show on the steps of the state capital building. The word spreads faster than a planet decimating virus, but i can assure you, as adamant as the weirdo getting you hyped for some classic jams by Mr. Lewis and his News may be, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He is just the latest peg in a long line of false stories, hopes, and dreams. If you go to Whole Foods, there will be no “Power of Love.” No “Hip to be Square.” No “Heart of Rock and Roll.” So just stay where you are and enjoy the show you chose to attend in the first place. Unless you’re a “Belieber.” Because that story about Justin Bieber showing up and performing at Bangers is true. Terribly, terribly true.
I will not judge people based solely on their appearances. I will not let a stupid haircut dictate how I feel about a stranger. I will not mock. I will not sneer. I will not shake my head or slap it with an open palm. This is my mantra. SXSW is officially underway.
And it has descended upon us again, the yearly carnival, debacle, fanfare, clusterfuck that is South by Southwest. It’s that two week period when Austin damn near consumes itself in commerce, excitement, food, drinks, and bitchiness. I’m all for it. Sure there are aspects of it all that drive me crazy…the influx of people everywhere, the traffic, the veritable police lineup of ridiculous looking characters, and the cold and flu disease-ridden aftermath that we all lovingly refer to as “South By AIDS.” But on the other hand, I take a week off from work, catch some cool free shows, drink some cold free beer, and generally take in the circus atmosphere like its some kind of cleanser. And every year it just gets bigger and bigger. It’s not all music and film anymore. There’s a tech side, an interactive side, an education side, and I can only imagine beer, food, and puppy dogs waiting in the wings for their own slice of the expo. So, there is literally something for everybody here.
In an ongoing attempt to bleed my opinions all over your computer screen, I’m selecting one album from every year that I’ve been alive that has some sort of significance to me…and then writing about it. Welcome back to 35 Albums in 35 Years.
Like so many people my age, I first became aware of Peter Gabriel through the fantastic and weird video for his hit “Sledgehammer” on MTV. I have been a sucker for animation of any kind since I was a little kid, and the video’s almost jarring use of live action animation was just amazing to me. I loved it. It seemed to be in a perpetual battle with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for best video of all time back in the 80’s. Dancing zombies versus quirky animated sequences…a war to end them all.