Don't Mess With Excess

Of course, you can smell the sour grapes: I'm one of the poor souls who goes to the wrong address announced early on, where a note informs me that the party is taking place at a "nearby, undisclosed location." The next day, I talk to people who went to the right address and didn't bother trying to get in, as well as people who went there and made an attempt but failed--some even considered rushing those beefy security guards with the radio headsets. (SCHOLTES)


The Black Keys at Stubb's, 1:00 p.m. Spin columnist Chuck Klosterman once wrote that the Black Keys' singer Dan Auerbach "sounds like a white dude trying to sing like some other white dude who's trying to sing like a black guy." In other words, imagine Joe Cocker wailing while your little brother plays drums--and then think of something a million times better than whatever crap is blasting through your head. Playing the slot right before the D4 ruin Stubb's Spin party, the effortlessly soulful Black Keys are so snark-free that when Auerbach's uncle appears onstage to play the saxophone, no one cracks any jokes. Irony be damned--we want our Kenny G.-style interludes. (MAERZ)

Tony Nelson


The D4 at Stubb's, 2:00 p.m. With a trail of garage bands all cashing in on Andrew W.K.'s skull-numbing headbanger routine (see "Garage Sale," p.54), it's smart to sound stupid these days. But only the D4 seem to have mastered that special kind of idiocy that causes involuntary drooling from the rock-crit press. Watching the bombastic lugs stomping around the stage at Spin's BBQ party, grunting about "getting loose" with "the ladies" while the audience chomps on the hunks of meat they hold in their hands, you can feel your I.Q. drop a point with every power chord. A lone, drunk man in a white undershirt with "I Hate Hipsters" hand-scrawled across the front stands in the center of the crowd, rocking his own Casbah. The praise erupting around him begins to sound as if it were nicked from Encino Man. "Ugh! Hear the Aussie cavemen grunt! Agh! Drummer beat with sticks like Thor! Garr! Them play rock that break the gee-tar!" Garage never sounded so conventional. "From now on," a friend says after the show, "I have a four-chord minimum." (MAERZ)


The bassist from Sahara Hotnights at Stubb's, 3:00 p.m. Before she goes onstage, she looks like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club--her hair strategically mopped to keep people out, her X-Men T-shirt signifying nothing more than her fandom for said comic book. Onstage with her bass slung low, she turns into an L7 goddess; her tee becomes a fashion icon. She blows her hair outward so you can see her face, but doesn't smile, not once. Later on, when I'm wandering around town, I happen across the band with their arms around one another, crossing the street. Not rock stars anymore, just a bunch of girlfriends in a strange city. (SCHOLTES)


Female singer with open guitar case and hype man at W. 6th St., 4:15 p.m. Even the buskers have barkers at SXSW. As I walk by, a graying guy comes up to me: "Sir, the woman you just passed is a very talented singer named [blah blah blah]. She has a performance tonight at [blah blah blah]. You'll be hearing a lot about her, so don't miss her show. Here's a flyer." I lose the flyer. (SCHOLTES)


The Rapture at Roxy, 9:30 p.m. Some parties at SXSW are so disgustingly exclusive that you feel like you need a V.I.P. pass just to use the bathroom. (Just don't relieve yourself in the stalls--rock stars need those private spaces for shooting dope.) I wait in line for more than an hour to see the Rapture at a party for Vice magazine and only manage to get inside because a) an exhausted music critic who just collapsed is rushed out of the club by his friends and escorted into an ambulance, leaving space for three more people to go inside; and b) while the rest of the queue turns to gawk at the poor guy, I cut in line.

Once inside, there are free drinks (strong ones!), free magazines (with photos of cats dressed in fancy clothes, making the drunk people laugh their fool heads off), and (despite the gross scenester crowd) some of the best free music around. The Rapture play their post-punk pogo anthem, "Out of the Races and on to the Tracks." And amid this perfect dance party for awkward kids, all the cool kids forget the show no emotion rule long enough to stand in place, purse their lips, and move their heads like chickens. Behold: the hipster equivalent of the Bill Cosby dance. (MAERZ)


Chicago Reader music editor Keith Harris on Cat Power playing at Stubb's, 10:45 p.m. "I would slit my own grandmother's throat if I thought it might make Chan Marshall shut up." (SCHOLTES)


Incredibly slow country band #4,256 at an unknown bar on Red River, infinity p.m. The 20 minutes the band spends tuning its instruments seem like hours. Maybe this is performance art, I think. Then again, I'm stoned: A half-hour earlier I wandered into another bar because I heard some metal-punk noise coming out of it and thought, in all seriousness, "This Is the Single Greatest Guitar Riff I've Ever Heard!"

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