Live from Squaresville: A SXSW Odyssey in Multiple Parts (Phase 2)

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.

The Happen-Ins

The Happen-Ins

As my vacation week continues ever forward, there’s not too terribly much to report thus far.  I went back to Mondo Tees and bought another Disney poster print (The Black Cauldron) for some unspecified reason.  Also, I am an impulsive idiot and will inevitably do things like that on occasion.  And I spent some quality time hanging out with a sleeping baby and watching Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead with Tony Todd as “Ben.”  There’s really no point to it, and it’s not near as effective a statement about race relations as its forebear, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  Highly consumable trash cinema.  Yum.

But I digress.  On to the reason we’re really all here today.  On to the gold.  On to the music events.

The Cosmonauts

The Cosmonauts

Wandering the east side of Austin today, I came across a dive bar that I had never heard of called The Lost Well, a dingy, dirty, little punk rock bar in the center of an ever gentrifying neighborhood.  The dive sits near the train tracks among old, worn down bungalo houses and new, angular condominiums.  Cultures colliding and all that.  Geography aside, what was going on in the place was far more important…at least to me today.  Surly Fest!  A day party put together by the band Surly Gates featuring a whole slew of up and coming sun-drenched, pysch-tinged garage rock bands, most of whom I had never heard of.  There was also free beer from Modelo, and while I can’t say I’m a Modelo drinker, a free libation is a grand libation.

The crowd was mostly young hipster kids, but among them, sprinkled throughout the smallish crowd were a couple of Austin old-timers, remnants from The 13th Floor Elevators days, acid casualties, hippies who kept holding the torch as the world changed around them.  I love these people.  They usually have stories.  And they’ll usually tell them to you.  And damn it, if that can’t put the beers back like a college freshman at his first kegger.  I’m also pretty sure that they are all on a first name basis with Willie Nelson.



I opted to forego any old Austin hippy narrative today (I wasn’t near drunk enough) and focused on the bands at hand instead.  Local troubadours The Happen-Ins, Quality Floods, and MODRAG kept the reverb levels high, the guitar tones ear piercing, and the bass and drums like sonic kick to the heart.  These kids draw from the same well as Roky Erickson.  The same well as Gibby Haynes.  Psych rock noise meant to make your foot tap and your head explode.  Some other acts I saw were Providence, Rhode Island’s Gymshorts, a screeching, punk rock wall of sound that left my ears ringing afterwards and Orange County’s The Cosmonauts (the only band on the bill I had heard before), a foursome who pray at the altar of The Jesus and Mary Chain.  Nice and crunchy.

So, today was just a taster.  We’ll see where the week takes me…especially once my wife and friends take off from work on Thursday and Friday, and we drop the boy off at Grandma’s house.  Bring the noise.

(The men’s room at The Lost Well is a trough with ice in it.  Dive bar bathroom decor just as God intended.)


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

2 Responses to Live from Squaresville: A SXSW Odyssey in Multiple Parts (Phase 2)
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    “The men’s room at The Lost Well is a trough with ice in it. Dive bar bathroom decor just as God intended” – Something about those ice troughs has always been so fucking indie rock to me that it’s awesome.

    I should specify “indie rock” meaning exactly what this piece is about, not the unfortunate way in which bands like neon trees have become known as indie rock.

    Sorry, had to say that.

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