The best part of SXSW is anything unexpected. And Saturday night(traditionally the last night of the festival) was loaded with episodes of the unforeseen giddiness that accompanies new discoveries, kinda like that feeling when you climb the big rope in gym class(without the mess).
So after a long dinner break, Alex mentions a showcase at a pool hall way off the well worn path of the trail of sponsored- this and sanctioned -that. Most likely a sycophant free event. So we roll up in his Saturn to a place called The Grand..which was in tucked the middle of a strip mall and when we arrived the parking lot was full of clusters of dirty converted church vans and loiterers that looked like extras from a Judas Priest video. I knew we were in the right place. We were apparently there for the Rubberneck Burger City Rock and Roll Party. The Grand is immense throwback of a billiards hall with grimy white walls, low nicotine stained ceilings and at least 20 tables. To the left behind the pinball machines was a badly lit large area where dual stages were set up on the floor in front of the dart boards. They spared no expense. We liquored up and moseyed over to hear the spaced out fuzz rock of Technicolor Teeth. A band that stretches tight slabs of psych/garage and reverb over twitching punkish ponds of delay and noise. Their website describes them as "sunshine punk". Brilliant. And from Wisconsin. Sans cheese. Put it on a Bumper Sticker.
Next up was a snarky little gang of ruffians from NYC called Dirty Fences . Very NYDolls-ish with the lipstick and pigtails to match. Short, double-entendre laden open hand slaps of scuzz rock, a bit derivative, but felt like music you feel like you need a cold shower and a cigarette after listening to. That's good, right? Loved the guitarist's mustache. Kinda looked like a caterpillar under a heatlamp.
The vibe at the Grand was ground zero for all of my bullet points of rock. Scuzzy, dirty, bluesy, tight with drums that sass you right back. Shut ins with a tetris like maze of pedal boards and no eye contact. I looked around at the cast of characters in all of their their dimestore boots, chain wallets, glitter and sway, acid washed and pompadoured, cave-mannish, barber shop quartet bearded and patched up black denim ways and felt at home. I felt younger than I looked. Alive from the overdriven force of the Ampeg air, puppet string free, loose and randy. We stuck around for one more round and I'm thankful for that decision because The JP5 from Nashville turned out to be one of the best bands I've seen in years. I say that a lot, but I think I mean it this time.
A three guitar driven blues rock band(pop hooks interwoven) with frontman Joseph Plunkett, whom by means of his voice alone, had to be some sort of Johansen/Costello love child. Two prevalent twin leads with just enough pomp and flash to get more than one of your feet and fists moving, held down with a burly backbeat provided by a mini-ginger skins hitter by the name of Rachel Hortman I loved what they were laying down and so should you. If I had to pick one band to watch from my four days...I couldn't , but JP5 would be in the top 3..if you're into that sort of bizarre list fetish like me.
We wanted to make the most out of the evening and Alex and Jamie (total family men with broad musical tastes and backgrounds...and wives at home watching the kids whoo haa!) were in no way ready to call it a night at 11pm. So we headed over to the strange and wonderful Sahara Lounge. As the website sort of proclaims..this venue is like a juke joint that was designed by a permanently drunk voodoo priest who spent time doing an Egyptian pub crawl. It's truly one of a kind and if your ever in ATX, it is a must-seek-out locale. We watched a vastly entertaining band called Goldendawn Arkestra..whose sound I can only describe as bedoin funk. Clad in robes, dropping hot horns and throbbing vibes into the mix with a rhythm section straight outta stax.. not a booty in the place was stagnant in any way.. I might have been dancing in place too, having totally forgotten how ill I was and proceeded to prophetilize out plans for my anti hip hop manifesto within earshot of Jamie, much to his chagrin.
. I wish we could have stayed longer...the vibe was such that I was waiting for a boozed up blind bluesman to take the stage next, could have been that whiskey whispering to me.. but instead it was a four piece that craptastically mashed up the best of reggae beats with the worst of Dave Matthews melodies...so we hit the bricks...........next up.....SXSWSunday????