Don't Mess With Excess

I'm tempted to leave now before the country band begins playing: The tuning is entertaining enough. Why ruin it? Each member has her specific tuning face. Each has little habits, like smiling to herself, or fiddling with her instrument. But I stay because somebody with sparkles on her face has walked in and we're talking about--honestly, I have no idea what.

When the band starts, the music is like Low doing country. Epic verses. Choruses that arrive late, like the next stop on an Oklahoma highway. Time passes, the world turns. A sunset later and the song still isn't over. I turn to the sparkle woman, about to say, "Isn't this great?" She has that apologetic look that says, "I can't take this incredibly boring music anymore!" But what she actually says is: "I've gotta go!" (SCHOLTES)


Tony Nelson

Saturday, March 15

El-P at Venue, 12:15 a.m. The only performer I see who mentions the war. (SCHOLTES)


Fuck By Fuck You (FXFY), somewhere on E. Sixth St., 2:00 p.m. Held completely apart from SXSW, this free punk festival lures me into something called "the Chicken Wire Ranch," which looks sort of like a junkyard with no junk. What can be found, though: free beer, lots of punkers, and friendly dogs with long spikes on their collars.

Like the Dirtbombs, Minor League have two drummers, but also two screaming vocalists--this is hardcore, I gather, and from Japan. But it's so tight, even funky, that I'm immediately rapt. Later on, another Japanese band, Howling Guitar, sticks mostly to instrumentals, but the shirtless, tattooed, muscularly skinny singer takes the mic long enough to play "I Wanna Be Your Dog," possibly in tribute to the only audience members who are panting. (Scholtes)


Iron and Wine at Urban Outfitters, 3:00 p.m.By far the best concert I've ever seen at Urban Outfitters. (Scholtes)


Camper Van Beethoven at Antone's, 3:00 p.m. The New Times alternative-weekly chain pays Camper Van Beethoven to perform at its SXSW party. The absurdist janglers happily take the money, and their bassist shows up on stage with a "Corporate Weeklies Still Suck" T-shirt. Yes! I say when a punk rocker gives me this fashion-police report, Stick it to the Man! And then I quickly hide my ID badge. (MAERZ)


Polyphonic Spree at Austin Music Hall, 8:00 p.m. A mass of smiling musicians in white robes float in, looking like an assembly line of Jesus Christ nightlights. The crowd cheers! Frontman Tim DeLaughter belts out Flaming Lips-ian hymns while his backing chorus bounces like Jim Henson himself has a hand up their habits. The crowd cheers! Cult icon/concert veteran Beatle Bob hops on stage, joins hands with DeLaughter, and the two embrace like lovers. The crowd cheers! The concert ends. The crowd cheers! The band leaves. Some bartenders go home. The house lights dim. No one is left in the room but the crowd, still cheering. Spotted the next morning: a lone straggler, sitting on the steps of the AMH, brow furrowed, smiling as if his face is stuck that way. (MAERZ)


Yuppie Pricks, now appearing everywhere The Yuppie Pricks frontman--he's there at every single show, watching everyone. Always standing by himself. Always wearing his tennis outfit with a white headband that says "I LOVE COKE." (And I don't think he's saying that he's a soda lover.) Always carrying his briefcase. Never speaking. The fear rises in everyone who sees him: This dude is not really a rock star. Bret Easton Ellis has sicced American Psycho's preppie-killing, Huey Lewis-loving lunatic Patrick Bateman on the SXSW crowd. If someone doesn't play "Hip to Be Square" soon, we're all doomed. (MAERZ)

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