Friday evening began with yet another parking miracle.
Eric Tessmer Band playing Headhunters that night, filling in for the mighty Brewtality Inc, who had to cancel as their singer/guitarist/longtime HH employee continues to battle cancer. We were honored to do so, and were more than happy to get the call.
Driving over the S 1st bridge fireworks were going off on Auditorium Shores. "Wonder how many rejected band SXSW applications paid for that?" I wondered out loud. And downtown was a maelstrom of music-types and tourists. Honked at more than a few dumbasses who would wander into the street into the path of an oncoming and over-loaded van.
But the night began not without hitches. I have done some amp rental in the past with a guy named Travis, good friend of good friends. He had completely re-tubed my SVT in order to bring it back into use. His rental of it didn't quite cover the repair bill, so when he called last minute on Tuesday or so I was more than happy to help out. But in a mix-up he rented my amp out when I needed it for the HH show later that night. No worries, he had a backup. It was an SVT-Classic, which I am not a fan of. But it was a working bass amp and it would not blow the speakers out of my new cab. He needed it back after the show and would have mine ready by Saturday's evening show. Coolio.
And again, snagged an amazing parking spot thanks to my partner in crime Triniti. She saw the space right next to Headhunters as we were three cars back at the light on 8th/Red River. So she ran out and stood. And just like that, I had the perfect space to load/unload for our set later on. Danny G: 2, SXSW: 0!!!
So T and I wade into the sea of bodies to Chupacabra for the Austin 420 Magazine showcase, whom we both write/take pics for. And what a sea of humanity. Street noise, drunk noise, good and terrible bands, a drumline navigating the busy crowd. Saw a familiar tattoo on the bicep of the guy in front of me. Grabbed his shoulder and said, "And then there's THIS guy!!!" It was my good friend and bro JRAB. He was stage managing an earlier festival show and was now free to roam the streets with a buddy of his. He was for sure coming to the ETB midnight set at HH.
Found Chupacabra OK, but didn't find editor Vincent Lopez right away. But found him on the side patio in the merch area, and the three of us caught up and talked business. Vincent tho confined to a wheelchair is an imposing figure, his energy taking up more space then him and his chair combined. He has a greater vision for the Austin 420 Magazine. Wants to lose the stigma of it being a stoner rag with half-assed bands (which it never was to begin with) and turn it into a cultural force to at least raise awareness and at most change the fucking world. Kudos to him, it's awesome to work with people who have a greater vision. And he does have big, big plans for the magazine this year. Which you will all be hearing about very very soon. Makes me feel proud to be a part of something.
Oh, and I gotta mention the Yoda Backpack Guy. Standing on the patio saw a guy with a backpack, like Yoda when Luke Skywalker was carrying him around on his back in Empire Strikes Back. Mentioned it was awesome and had T take our picture. Which then opened a huge can of spaceworms. The guy just uncorked about the site he got it from, barely conataining himself when he mentioned the C3PO backpack like when Chewbacca was carrying him disassembled in Cloud City. And they sell the Taun-Taun sleeping bag, which he sleeps in every night. Uh, check please. Wow. One of us is so NOT getting laid tonight...
But time to go so headed back to HH to see what was going on. This time wisely taking 7th Street to Red River, to avoid the churning river of human beings. Get back to Headhunters, and turns out things are running very, very behind. T and I headed to Valhalla (formerly Room 710, RIP) for a time-killing beer. Can't even make use of the upstairs loft and air hockey table as it is blocked off for a showcase. You gotta have a wristband to use the air hockey table? Well fuck a bunch of that. Smoked ciggies and people watched.
Back at HH things going from bad to worse. Show running VERY VERY late, as there was a label who dropped a sizeable amount of coin to throw a showcase. No problem there, but add onto that bands that play too long, fire marshall visits, and the lack of Billy Milano running the stage, and we are standing outside with our gear and our dicks in our hands at 1:30am. We were supposed to play at midnight, or 12:30 at the latest. A lot of the people who came to see us had to leave after waiting an hour. Needless to say, we were not happy. Even I was pulling people aside and going "What the fuck is going on here?!?" I even had it out with the sound guy as well, which I was not proud of doing so. And it wasn't just a crappy little showcase we were playing with big dreams of maybe getting noticed or signed. All three of us have a connection with that place: the three of us playing multiple shows there, and Rob as a former employee. Add onto that we are doing a favor for an ailing brother in arms, Houston, who's band we were invited to fill in for. That in itself is an honor. But now it is 1:45 and the band before us is still onstage.
But we had a plan in place: we are GOING TO PLAY, we are GOING TO BE FUCKING LOUD, we are going to BLOW THE DOORS OFF THE PLACE, and we would be playing UNTIL THEY DRAGGED US OFFSTAGE.
We did all of those, but the last part was not needed as they let us play from 1:55am until 2:30. With most of the staff rocking out. Even Steve the owner was at the side of the stage. Saw him gesticulating out of the corner of my eye, thought he was pointing to his watch. No, he was dancing \m/,. Awesome. Tho we had no time to soundcheck, I had no time to dial in the loaner head, or tune my bass, or even put in ear plugs. I rocked so hard that 3 songs in I thought I was going to throw up onstage. Which I should have, it's Red River, for fucks' sake! But alas the feeling passed. By end of set we had given every ounce of energy, anger and frustration. And had used that energy to melt everyone's face. It was awesome, glad we stuck it out and showed the out-of-towners who is Boss. Welcome to Austin, Remember to Leave.
Tho I thought that loaner amp sounded less that desirable, immediately had someone in the crowd compliment my bass tone. Well there ya go ;) The tone was dirty as shit, but was fitting for the venue and crowd, and energy. However, without earplugs my ears were SCREAMING from Eric's amps and Rob's cymbals. That was dumb. Hopefully no permanent damage... And with the awesome parking space, getting out of there was a piece of cake. Ha! Take that, barricade Nazis!