In Austin, you can research and schedule and make the right Twitter friends and you're still
gonna miss something with every decision that you make. Case in point: on Thursday afternoon, realizing the last thing I put in my stomach came in a tall can, I left a random day party where GZA was performing to get something made of food to digest. In doing so, I not only missed the chance to see the rapper--who, for his official SXSW gig later that night, chose to remain in his van rather than get on stage, according to the miffed bouncer at the club--I also missed running into Bill Murray, great deadpan comedic actor of our time. Bill Murray! With GZA
! WTF? I hung out with indie publicist Molly Hill later in the night, who not only saw GZA, and Bill, but she got a hug
from the Scrooged
star just for introducing herself. Dude.
This is ADD city for the rest of the weekend, though, with so many options it'll give you a nervous breakdown just trying to catalog who's playing down the street in the next hour. So you've gotta draw your limits somewhere. And really, Bill Murray bummer aside, yesterday Austin was a crazy sprawl of all kinds of bands performing in all kinds of spaces--and overall, my disappointments were few. (One bummer: One of my favorite acts, the Dutchess and the Duke, played like they let that tall can win in the decision between beer and food. But then, I couldn't be too sad when they just played SF last week).
One of the best things about coming down here is falling off the downtown grid and watching bands play in unexpected--and sometimes really picturesque--spaces, like the French Legation Museum
It's a cherry blossom-dotted, sloping lawn big enough for two stages, with a very laid back vibe--a couple hip parents brought their kids there to kick around the soccer ball as the bands played. The thing that wasn't laid back, were the lines if you wanted a beverage or the bathroom. There you were in for a wait the length of a headlining band set, a sorry situation that repeated itself across the day parties (except, perhaps, at the Jay Reatard tribute I hit for a minute at at Beerland). But once your thirst was quenched and your bladder was empty, you could watch bands play from a tree.
The big branch was taken when Real Estate
took the stage, but since that was one of the acts I made it my mission to see this weekend, I didn't mind being crammed between the sunburned fans dancing by the stage. The group brought with it the rural sound of New Jersey, melodies meandering down pop's back roads as the singer projected wistful scenarios of looking for gold watches in the sand.
Even the sound--which ground out all the subtle moments in the songs, and was outdoor-venue bad at times--couldn't ruin the happy vibe these dudes projected on the lawn party. It was pretty great. It was also great watching Real Estate's drummer, who had a knack for spinning his right drum stick in his hand between beats.