South By Southwest 2008

South by Southwest Friday 3/14/2008












South by Southwest
SXSW is an annual music event that takes place in Austin, Texas.

So it begins...

The Girlie Action publicists sent me an invite to the Kemado Records SXSW Jam to be held in the back room of the Spiderhouse Cafe. I did a bit of research, and thought that I might write an article on their headlining band "The Sword" for one of the music print rags I write for. I mean, being that they are supposed to be "the next big thing" and all.

The fancy, laminated press pass

So I took half a day off from my day job and Junior, her friend Ty, and I drove the 3 hours to Austin. 

Once we got to Austin, we picked up another friend Julie and headed out to eat at Dirty Martin's Kum-Bak Burgers... the greasiest burgers in town. It was about 3pm and The Sword didn't go on until 6pm so we had plenty of time.

Dirty Martin's Kum-Back Burgers. Also known as "Dirty's" or as I like to call it, "Dirty Kum Burgers".

Delicious Kum Burgers, Tater-tots, and Onion Rings.

Mmmm... chocolate shake. Girls sold separately.

Finally, a city in Texas where this guy fits in.

After we ate, we walked around to check out the graffiti. There wasn't much. And what there was, the bands unloading band equipment blocked.

Nice blue-man teats!

From there, we moved on to the Spiderhouse up the street. It's a cool cafe with a trailer park looking garden in the back where bands play. Across the garden stage is an open building where the record company bands were playing. This was an indoor venue with free beer. Sadly, I don't drink, But it was cool...the kids could get drunk anyhow. No big deal.

Yummy... beers and bi's!

We settled at a table in the courtyard while the band Black Moth Super Rainbow played. They were this psychedelic type of band... nothing that really sparked my interest. In the back cafe I heard another band playing so I went to check it out.

Baby-doll dress and cowboy boots. The official women's uniform for SXSW 2008. I didn't get the memo.

Have you ever kind of known someone from a long time ago, and you hadn't ever really thought of them in years and years, and then like 20 years later this person is there standing in front of you? That's what I experienced when I made it to the cafe stage and saw Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkeybirds playing.

Kid Congo was in LA years ago during when the whole punk transition was going on in Hollywood and bands like X, Black Flag, Plasmatics, The Plugz, The Avengers, and The Dickies  were playing at the Whiskey, Al's Bar, Cathay de Grand, and Madame Wongs. If I recall, he was a fixture on the scene, as was I. It was neat to see him again... I probably should have stopped and said hey. 

Kid Congo wants YOU to buy a t-shirt!

Anyhow, I stuck around for a few songs and Kid Congo was as animated and dynamic as ever. He always was a true entertainer and a talented musician. As I was standing there watching him, I realized that I have loved every band this man has been in. I mean FUCKING LOVED them... Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Cramps, Gun Club, even the Divine Horsemen (Unfortunately, I don't think DH recordings made it past vinyl). His Pink Monkeybirds band was no different....they were amazing. 

Sorry Kid, I needed to wipe my lipstick somewhere.

I shot a song on my video camera... sorry for the shakiness but I didn't bring a tripod. But WATCH IT ANYWAY!!!

By this time, one of the Kemado bands Howlin' Rain had taken the main stage, so I ran back to see them. They had kind of a grassroots rock sound. They were cool for a bunch of hippies.

Nothing screams "SEX" like dirty, sweaty hippies. Come hither, boys!

Some video of Howlin' Rain:

During the Howlin' Rain set, another band went on in the cafe area, Toko Ri - Get High. So I went to check them out. I fell in love with this band!

From the left Spyder, the spawn of Angus Young and Jah Wobble, and a man taller than Richard Hell (also not married to Patti Smythe). * Not pictured: Charlie Brown, the drummer.

These guys were cool on so many levels... the lead singer had this young Richard Hell vibe about him. And from what I could decipher, he sang these warped, obscure lyrics that were either pure and simplistic or dark and complicated. Their lyrics reminded me of this band from LA called Imperial Butt Wizards... friends of mine. They had this song "Donkey Party" so on the surface you'd think the song is about the Tijuana Donkey Party where the girl has some form of intercourse with a donkey. But when you listen to the lyrics, the song is actually about some donkeys getting together to socialize... like a donkey pot-luck/tea party. Anyhow I couldn't decide if Toko Ri - Get High's lyrics were innocent or twisted. I like that.

But the main draw of this band for me was the bass player. He's this teeny little guy... like if Angus Young played bass, but he had a big sound. He played this dub-style of bass reminiscent of Jah Wobble. If you don't know who Jah Wobble is, the easiest way to describe him is the bassist who should have been in the Sex Pistols instead of Sid "can't play bass" Vicious. But not only that, he had this super cool "look". Here is some video... watch him and you'll see what I'm saying.

I couldn't stay for their whole set because The Sword was going on in the other building and a crowd was gathering so I needed to secure my place in front of the stage for pics.

First of all, what a stupid name for a band... "The Sword". It is not the law that if you are a heavy-metal "Slayer" band, that you must have a gothic war-type name for your band. But here they were... onstage in front of me... The Sword.

I swear I think his drumsticks had The Sword emblem on them. Spinal Tap anyone? Bad News Tour?

So these guys start playing, and all I could hear were drums and guitar. They had the guitar amps turned up so high, I couldn't hear the singer. Some friendly advice for this band:

- The whole "Metallica" thing has been done already. In the 80's. By Metallica.
- To the singer... if the audience can't hear your voice over the guitars, save yer pipes and just do instrumental!

Long Hair? Check. Lightening bolt guitar? Check. Years of lip-syncing to Metallica in the mirror at home? Check. You sir, are ready to join the heavy metal army.

I spent a lot of $$ getting the band's name on these sticks dammit. And I'm gonna play as hard and loud as I can.

Why stop at the wrist, lizard-man? Do the whole hand.

Whoa whaddaya know? There was a bass player. I couldn't hear over the guitar and drums. Then suddenly "poof"! There he was. Like heavy-metal magic!

My hair, much like my music, is frozen in time. Early 80's, to be exact.

In all fairness, maybe it wasn't the band's fault. I mean, they had Sean Lennon on the soundboard.

"I'm in the club, adjusting your sound levels. I do lighting, too."

Sorry guys... I'm just bagging on ya. I'm sure it was just bad sound acoustics. If you want to send me a CD, and if I like it, I'll reconsider the print magazine article.

Maybe I'm wrong and they sounded great. You be the judge.



What makes this ZZZlist material?

  • Kid Congo gets is not as widely recognized as he should be for real. He has mad talent, and he's been a fixture in the punk/psycho-billy scene since forever.

  • The band Toko Ri - Get High did not appear to be signed to a label. They should be. Kemado should unsign The Sword and sign these guys. DO IT!!!





Kid Congo Powers  

Howlin' Rain
Toko Ri - Get High  

The Sword