The first thing we learned upon arriving in Austin Texas is that Texas is hot. Not hot as in, "Hey Texas is hot in March" rather, "Damn Texas is fucking hot." Though this did make for a sweaty 13 hour drive from Tucson, the humid climate did lend itself to an intriguing and pleasant evening atmosphere. This we discovered only after sleeping 10 hours of that swampy day away thanks to our 8 am arrival. Also much in thanks to our gracious hosts Irene, Zack, Jacklyn, and Hillary, for allowing us to infest your living room for the week. We managed to make a nice nest out of a fold out futon, a couch (with cushions), and a linoleum floor. A perfect habitat for 7 people.
We awoke dazed at dusk and decided it was time to go see as much as we could of the festival. Boarding the #7 bus and reaching our destination of 6th and Congress, we realized we had greatly underestimated the intensity of this event.
Out of every open door and window came pouring the distinctive sound of musicians rocking their hardest on foreign systems. All the while music lovers flocked from attraction to distraction searching for their next "I was the first person to hear about this band" band to take home and share with their loved ones. After taking a moment to gather ourselves we embarked to find the nearest saloon.
I would try to recall the name of the establishment, however, I am not sure the bar, nor my memory will merit the promotion. Regardless, we were greeted with the friendly solicitation of free alcohol and live music. We made the most of their offer and proceeded to venture down 6th street in awe of the magnitude that was South by Southwest.
Getting arbitrarily drunk on a Tuesday is fun enough. But getting arbitrarily drunk on a Tuesday while bar hoping from club to club as they compete to see who can get you the most fucked up, all the while running into your favorite artists such as Brother Ali, is almost too much fun to describe. So with that easy out I will say this much, if you ever find yourself in the real Coyote Ugly in Austin during SXSW, don't ask for a lime.
Getting good and whiskey drunk Elliot found himself engaged in a rap battle with an emcee that refused to mention his name. A crowd was quick to form as the two exchanged insults; ultimately it was clear that Elliot was the crowd favorite, which I hate to admit because I hate the mother fucker. Continuing our night by handing out free demos, and stickers, and excepting more free booze and music, we began to fall in love with the sweaty ass city.
The next night was more of the same, tromping about downtown talking to folks about the band and such, watching bands sound check and ask for more vocals in the monitor. We got good a liquored up and decided to get into some mischief.
After that the crew found them at what they thought was a Pharoahe Monch concert but turned out to be a Sole and Bus driver show (arguably just as entertaining.) Having no means to get home Tanner, being just drunk enough, decided to ask a random stranger if we could hitch a ride. Of course the first guy Tanner approached happily obliged. As it turned out this gentle man was also an emcee known simply as Chad, and quiescently enough had just come from winning a freestyle battle event hosted by Murs. We exchanged discs and thanked him for the ride and got ready for our next day.
Unlike the other haphazard afternoon wake ups, Thursday was our first day of "work." We had discovered that an insurance company had accidentally sent our host Irene 200 personalized shot glasses which she subsequently offered to us for our disposal. We promptly fitted them with our newly ordered Eliquate stickers and struck back out into the abyss that was downtown Austin. Now, normally when you attempt to hand a stranger a flyer to an event like this it is similar to saying "Here, will you toss this on the ground for me?" However, strangers were more inclined to listen to Elliot as he spouted off verse after verse to random groups on the street in exchange for a free shot glass. The crew bounced from party to party attempting to convince people that a free Eliquate show (a band they never heard of) was more appealing than a $30 Niki Minage showcase.
They were pleasantly surprised when they arrived at the Dizzy Rooster to find it packed to the rafters and sweatier than Satan's nut sack. After getting the gear set up and checked in less than 5 minutes (a feat the sound man Phil regarded as "badass") the boys played that club like it was a Colosseum. Drenched in sweat and showered in free alcohol, they made a 30 minute set seem like a 2 hour showcase. Disgustingly sweaty and high off their performance and run in with Wooster in the back ally, we decided to hit the town. The first venue we found we peeped through the window, and were pleased to find that it was Grieves and Budo rocking a set. We were even more pleased to find the window had a crack in it enabling us to hear the whole show. And even more so when Grieves's manager noticed us peering through the window and insisted that we be ushered in past the line for free. After the show we got a chance to kick it for a brief moment with Grieves and thank him for his outstanding performance, and Erin exchanged email's with his manager.
We then piled all 7 of us into Thomas's Subaru and barged home. The next day was our first show with Texas Rock Fest, and our first encounter with the man behind the event, Mr. Adam Brewer. Adam is a man with a mind for Rock and Roll and a heart for music. As intense as the music he represents, Adam has managed to host the Texas Rockfest going on 13 years. My first conversation with Adam went like this "Hey Adam it's nice to meet you, I'm with
Eliquate." Looking intensely into my eyes he pulled me close and growled into my ear "Thomas Dawson should be hung from a tall oak tree." I enthusiastically agreed with him as he began to laugh hysterically, never revealing if his sentiments were sincere. All adding to the colorful nature of his character, as he seemed to generally appreciate our participation in the event, and the dynamic of a very stressed out Thomas Dawson and a very enthusiastic Eliquate. Stepping out in front of a crowd of roughly 500 strangers, the boys felt confident in their ability to hold the audience’s attention and make an impression. It wasn't long before floods of people began pouring in from the street to see what the commotion was all about. The show almost broke out into a full scale riot as fans began hopping on stage and attempting to stage dive as well as show the whole of Austin their dance moves
. One little girl was so stoked she even approached us after and asked for our autographs (nothing like that has ever happened to us before.)
Knowing we had an early morning the next day we decided to take it easy that night, and get ready for round two of Texas Rockfest... yearh... this time it was a day show and the boys were pleased to see many of the prior nights patrons had returned to catch their last show at SXSW. They rocked with Adam Brewer like intensity, as Cosmo was graced with yet another old man kiss. This one coming from the kindly old sound tech, who wanted to thank us in his own way for having such a smooth set up and Jamie for not having too many pedals.
The boys had accomplished what they had set out to accomplish, playing three shows with the professional integrity and delivery that prompted an enthusiastic invite for return on the behalf of Red Gorilla Music Festival, The Dizzy Rooster, and Texas Rockfest (yearh.)
To celebrate they spent their last night getting whiskey drunk and sneaking into a free Datzik, Dj Jazzy Jeff (legend), Crystal Method, and Erika Badu concert. Followed by tear assing through downtown Austin slapping sticker on every open space they could find, laughing hysterically the whole time. When it was time to head home it dawned on them that had not arranged for a ride home, they, however, were fortunate enough to fall on the good graces of Litta, a school teaching country singer songwriter who happened to have misplaced her car.
The boys helped her retrieve her vehicle and were rewarded with an impromptu performance of Bootleg Jenny's "we got to stop reproducing" on the ride home. Only after further assisting her with a flat tire cause by 6 guys being crammed in the back of a Ford Focus.
Later that morning the boys awoke to what would be 26 hour drive back to Santa Cruz. Buzzing from the experience and excited to get back on the road Eliquate has returned home to begin planning their next big adventure. Till next time, as we prepare to step out into the fray, all we ask is that you root for our hero's as our slow ascension to musical obsolescence continues. Thanks again to our hosts for putting us up, we owe you 10.