24 March 2009

SXSW Recap.

We officially made it back to Birmingham late Monday night. The drive from Austin took sixteen hours and two days, and nearly drove us both insane! It was so easy to drive down there, yet the same path on the way back was excruciating.

I hate that I had so many Internet problems and couldn't blog. It was one of the many things to learn from for next year.

The whole experience was nothing like I could've imagined. Ever. I expected to be tired and run ragged, but I couldn't anticipate the festival aspect of the whole thing. Thousands and thousands of people are hyped up on music and adrenaline (and probably more than a few on illegal substances), wandering around, driven to find the best place to be/the best show/the best cupcake or taco/the best free beer.

I was super thankful to have a badge that granted me immediate access to any show/party I wanted to be at...I couldn't imagine having to wait in those excruciating lines that flowed down 6th Street like it would never end. That badge also saved me about 5 hours a day. I could pop in to the Billions Party, stay long enough for the husband to say hellos, and then run over to Maggies Mae's Gibson Room, Mohawk to see Richard Swift (and catch J. Mascis on the street), and still make it to Volume to see Beach House. If you're ever going to SXSW, yes, it IS do-able without a badge or wristband, but it's a LOT better of a time if you just throw down the $500-700 for the badge.

My husband played two phenomenal shows--one Wednesday night at the Tap Room and another as part of the Birmingham Day Party. His current lineup is really fantastic, and the new songs are really a whole new thing. On Wednesday, The Austin Chronicle chose Duquette Johnston and the Rebel Kings as a top pick for the night, describing them as "psychedelic Southern rock." I think that's an incredible way to capture the music.

Here's exactly what the Chronicle had to say...
"Psychedelic Southern rock isn't done any more authentically than by Duquette Johnston. The Alabama native takes a personal look at a troubled road amidst loud guitars itching for a Drive-by Truckers session. Currently in the studio working on a follow-up to 2006's Etowah, Johnston and his recent "Nothing to Fear" demonstrate a digestion of Lucinda Williams. " – Chase Hoffberger

The Saturday BHAM Showcase was an unofficial party and took place at the Creekside Lounge, luckily right next door to the 40 Watt party. It made it pretty easy for several people to jump back and forth between the two. My husband got stuck with what I considered to be a rather shiteous time slot, but it ends up not really mattering in the end. Whoever was there, was supposed to be there right then. Chip Midnight from Atomic Ned, an old friend of my husband's from back in the Verbena days, came out to see the set. He wrote a nice little bit on him at his blog's SXSW recap:
"Started out at the Creekside Lounge to see Duquette Johnston and the Rebel Kings at the Birmingham, Alabama showcase. I met Duquette when he was in Verbena many years ago (’96-ish) and we’ve traded a rare e-mail or two every couple of years up until the last two or so years where he’s shown up on MySpace. His live show was more rocking than his debut Etowah - kind of Neil Young / My Morning Jacket / Drive-By Truckers-ish. Good ol’ rock from the South. Been listening to his acoustic CD-R that he gave me a copy of that afternoon - hopefully you’ll have a chance to hear it soon."--Chip Midnight.

Out of the whole SXSW, I have to say that my favorite moments were:
1) Seeing the Delta Spirit play a CRAZY show at the Radio Room on Wednesday night and then stumbling upon an outdoor honky-tonk set of theirs at a morning party with free tacos. I love this band so much. And they're some of the sweetest guys ever. I'm so happy for their growing success. They deserve it because the songs deserve it.

2) Lou Barlow and Imaad Wasif at the Merge Records Party at the Parish. It was entirely acoustic and while I'm not an enormous fan of Lou Barlow's solo stuff, I was absolutely mesmerized by Wasif. I managed to get right up front to shoot (thank you, Fire Marshall for limiting the crowd that night!) and I have some incredible photos of him looking directly at me. It kind of freaked me out. He looks like a really beautiful ghost.

3) Watching Beach House at Volume. I've never been a fan of their recordings, but to watch them live was really hypnotic. The space was really cool--stage was low and the back wall was lined with mirrors. There was a great balcony with cages along the stair rails. The light was all green and spacy. I loved it.

Check back later and through the week for more picture posts!!

Or, go visit my Flickr...there are hundreds of photos there!
Now, for even more rest...

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