Walking home from seeing Liars at Antone’s Friday night, it occurred to me that the full body exhaustion caused by SXSW is really only comparable to that experienced after skiing. The caveat being that it’s usually not that cold during South By. Well, until Saturday. With high winds and temperatures in the 40s, outdoor day parties suddenly seemed far less appealing.
While a huge line of people were trying to get into the Black Keys/Broken Bells/Demolished Thoughts (some purported Thurston Moore and Andrew W.K. collaboration – what?) show at Mohawk, I slipped into the cozy confines of Red Eyed Fly for the Coffee No Pants party. While there wasn’t any coffee and plenty of people were wearing pants, I wasn’t the only one curious about the name – the lead singer of Free Energy commented on it, saying, “I’m not sure why it’s called Coffee No Pants, but I will take my pants off.” When someone whistled, he added, “Apparently you’ve seen this show before.” Their upbeat pop-y songs got plenty of people moving, most especially the singer himself, who excitedly jumped about. Inside, Avi Buffalo was much more subdued, playing Ra Ra Riot-ist sort of lo-fi indie pop, punctuating tunes with tambourine and kickdrum.
Later in the afternoon, still trying to avoid the wretched cold, I snuck into the basement of Max’s Wine Bar for the Black Iris party. With the stage set on the ground, it wasn’t possible to see the seated Best Coast, but the lead vocalist sounded similar to Emily Haines, so I imagined that’s what she looked like too. With super-catchy drums, the LA band brought out their best lazy surf tunes. But the party didn’t really start until another LA outfit, Fool’s Gold, got the entire room dancing to “Surprise Hotel.” It only escalated from there, with folks breaking out their best moves, and the band conga-ing through the audience playing the sax and banging the cowbell. If it was freezing outside, it was a sweaty indie dance party inside – which is the best kind.
With little time left for Saturday night shows, and only a few more years where I’m allowed to publicly enjoy dance music, I headed to Beauty Bar to polish off the evening with Oakland’s Wallpaper. Ricky Reed – nee Eric Frederick – was doing his best Justin Timberlake by way of Prince impression, rocking a trendy hat, hipster glasses, and gloves adorned with working lights (great for night biking). Opening with “T-Rex,” Frederick let his quirky lyrics loose, and busted out a cover of “That Girl Is Poison” that was surely enjoyed by everyone.
So, that’s it, SXSW 2010. Eugene Mirman count: 3. Most irritating drunk vagrant: that one outside Mohawk. Best t-shirt: the dude at the Tanlines show who’d written “I came to get down” on his white shirt in marker. Amount of second-hand smoke inhaled: I don’t want to think about it.