yes, it's Robyn, Perez, and Pharrell @ SXSW - March 15, 2008 (this pic via Perez)
I spent all day Saturday - the last day of SXSW - watching bands and comedians. It was nonstop from noon to 10pm - mostly all at the awesome 3-stage Mess With Texas festival at Waterloo Park which ended with the Breeders and NOFX playing on stages very close to each other at the same time. I watched about half of each of them, but more about that later. With only four official hours left of SXSW, and maybe another 2-3 unofficial ones after that, I started to get depressed and wasn't sure what to do next. 10-11 ended up being spent in the hotel relaxing and figuring things out, and then at 11:00 it was off to Beauty Bar to see a Montreal band I hadn't seen in a long while - Think About Life. That decision was partly motivated by my love for them, partly due to BrooklynVegan Mike's influence, and partly because I knew a friend would be there.
Think About Life were, unlike me at that point, full of energy and they put on a pretty good show, though I thought the sound was a little too muddled. So many New Yorkers are in Austin for SXSW, you basically run into more people you know or recognize while you're at SXSW than you would on any other week back home. This show was no exception, and one easily recognizable member of the crowd was Bronques from Last Night's Party who also seemed to know some people who were with the band...... probably related to his former life as a Canadian musician, and probably what got him to this somewhat random rock show.
Anyway, I was happy to see TAL, but then once again I wasn't sure what to do next. I originally wanted to see The Tough Alliance at the same club at 1am, but someone told me they were pretty horrible live earlier in the week, so I changed my mind. I knew I was going to eventually end up at the late-night VICE party that started at midnight, but that prospect wasn't totally exciting me either because the lineup was Jay Reatard, Fucked Up, and Dark Meat - all of whom I had already seen either that day or the day before. That's when my friend said he was off to the Perez Hilton party.
"REALLY?", I thought....Yes, they were serious, and they said they could get me in even though I didn't RSVP or have a laminate. They also reminded me that Robyn AND N.E.R.D. were both playing - two artists I wanted to see more than most of my other options at that point. That, mixed with the potential hilarity of it all kind of brightened my mood. It was also just a short walk away at a place called the Palm Door, I knew I could leave whenever I wanted, and I could still end up at the VICE party which was running really late. And so we went.
And yes it mostly sucked, but N.E.R.D. were awesome and made it all worth it. It basically went like this....
- We got right in without a hassle as promised. The crowd looked more like the Austin equivalent of our "bridge and tunnel" crowd than it did your typical laid back and hip SXSW audience. Bronques from Last Night's Party was also there - which made more sense than when I saw him earlier in the evening at Think About Life.
- The venue was about the size of Bowery Ballroom (maybe it fit 500 people?) with free rum, free massages, free gum, and a place to play Guitar Hero. NYC's own Larry Tee was the DJ.
- BAD NEWS: We missed Robyn. I hadn't seen the full lineup or set times, and it ends up she played at 10pm. damn.
- GOOD NEWS: N.E.R.D. was going on at 1:00 - the wait wouldn't be super long and then maybe I would even stay to see Riskay sing 'Smell Yo Dick' (the ultimate experience to tell the grandkids about) before heading over to VICE to catch Jay Reatard again.
- BAD NEWS: Every band that played before N.E.R.D. (that I was there for) was HORRIBLE
- Even worse: Joe Simpson, father of Ashley and Jessica, was there.
- Something I learned that night: Who Cisco Adler is, and why NOT to Google Image search him. (note: his new group Shwayze was scheduled to play between N.E.R.D. and Riskay. Cisco seemed to know Joe Simpson, and Cisco had a model girlfriend that was all over him most of the night. That's all the gossip I have for you.)
- Perez introduced every band and said how awesome they were and then would watch them from the side of the stage. It actually seemed pretty sincere except for that fact that it was impossible to believe that he or anyone could possibly like those bands (that coincidentally were all signed to majors) as much as he claimed.
- MORE BAD NEWS: Other people I knew showed up at the Perez party (which was actually good news, but...) and they informed me that VICE wasn't that great and that Jay Reatard had already played. damn.
- RELATED FUN FACT: Those same friends went to the Rachael Ray party earlier that day, officially making them the coolest SXSW-goers this year.
- Realization: The Perez party was running super late. The longer the night went on, the more guilty and ashamed I felt for being at Perez's and for missing whatever else was going on like Black Moth Super Rainbow who played an official showcase at 1am that night too (one of my original plans).
- Long story short: N.E.R.D. didn't go on until after 3:00 AM.
- GOOD NEWS: It was intimate. It was loud. It rocked. They were awesome. Great way to end SXSW.
- BAD NEWS: I definitely lost some hearing at the show.