Infinite Shuffle

March 16, 2011

SXSW 2011: Opening ceremonies

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 12:01 pm

Just like in the Olympics, the first day of my SXSW experience was mostly ceremonial. The music portion doesn’t start until today, but there were still plenty of bands to be heard Tuesday night. Again, kinda like the Olympiad, how some obscure sport always gives out a medal the same day the Opening Ceremonies take place.

Before I delve into the musical experience, I feel like I should give a little background to explain my state of mind.


When Sean and I departed from South Bend on Sunday, the only city’s forecast that I looked up beforehand was Austin’s. Highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s.

That meant I would not be packing any pants or hoodies — so as to save precious space in my duffel bag.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really think about what the weather would be like during the trek to Austin. Driving to Central Illinois in roughly 40-degree weather was fine, as I was in the truck the whole time. But driving from Illinois to Tulsa on Monday was a bitch. We almost immediately ran into rain and snow and didn’t really come out of it until some where in western Missouri.

To compound the annoyance, I awoke Monday morning with a head cold that, over the course of the drive, steadily grew into a wicked fever.

Now, I don’t if me wearing shorts had anything to do with this, but it might have exacerbated the issue.

Waking up in Tulsa on Tuesday, my fever had dissipated considerably, unfortunately, by the time we arrived in downtown Austin about 8.5 hours later, it had returned with a vengeance.

For the next five hours or so, I struggled through a couple of awesome shows while experiencing an increasing state of delirium. I’ve never been that loopy in my life and could hardly string together a coherent thought.

The worst part was when we left our final venue of the night and began moseying around downtown. While it was in the 60s, my body was convulsing with the chills. It was kinda freaky.

A little later, the other members of our crew, which had increased to four people at that point, picked up some Korean barbecue. Unfortunately, I had no appetite whatsoever.

If for no other reason, I want my health to improve enough to stomach a slew of Korean BBQ tacos.

As I type this entry at noonish Wednesday, my fever is under control for now, but will surely get worse as the day progresses. However, I refuse to let my condition get in the way of experiencing SXSW to its fullest.

Now, back to the music.


We found a parking spot at about 7:15 and headed straight for Club de Ville for the Ice Cream Man Party. We arrived in the middle of the Screaming Females set. As I noted in an earlier post, they sound exactly as you would assume from their name. It’s a couple of dudes and a female lead singer who basically just howled at the top of her lungs.

I gave them 1 star originally while listening to the torrent, but seeing them live, I would delete them completely.

The best part of that show was the free ice cream and $1 Sparks I consumed.

After that show ended, we were all prepared to leave but figured we’d stick around for at least the first song of the next band — Futurebirds. We ended up staying for about six songs. These guys were our first awesome discovery of the festival.

The group was made up of five dudes — a drummer, bassist and three guitarists. They mostly looked like regular guys, except for the one who was rocking a ZZ Top-style beard.

The way I would describe their sound was as if Kurt Cobain was fronting an alt-country/folk band — basically, alt-country with an edge.

My camera work is horrible, but you might be able to make out a reddish speck to the far right. That's the bill of a cap, underneath which lies a massive beard.

After leaving there, we headed to the PureVolume House to catch We Barbarians. Unfortunately, we had yet to pick up a badge, and the line to do so was enormous. So, we quickly departed and headed elsewhere. I checked the mobile site — which, by the way, sucked greatly last night and hopefully improves — and noted the Frog Music Listening Party at The Ghost Room.

By the time we got there, we had just missed the two acts I was interested in — Dan Dyer and Sahara Smith.

The first act we saw was Cowboy & Indian. I remember hearing them on the torrents, and there’s a reason I didn’t keep the track. They’re very raw, acoustic folk, unfortunately, it was too raw and just not that good.

The next band quickly made up for that. Zookeeper was an incredibly solid alt-country folk group that channeled The Band.

By that point in the evening, we had been joined by one of Sean’s friends from Peace Corps, and for at least two songs, the three of us sat at our table, completely transfixed by the music. It was like the Seinfeld episode when Elaine’s boyfriend stopped everything when “Desperado” came on the radio.

That band would’ve definitely been in the top two of the night, but then the next act blew them away.

The Lemurs are an Austin-based group that churns out simply awesome indie rock. The whole crowd, which had swollen considerably to see a local act, was rocking along with every note.

So, the final tally for Tuesday was five bands. The only two I’d heard beforehand were the two worst. The other three can be chalked up as SXSW discoveries.

Today, we’re still not sure what we’re gonna end up doing, but we’ll probably start the day in a couple of hours somewhere on Sixth or Seventh streets.


  • Zookeeper
  • Futurebirds
  • The Lemurs
  • Cowboy & Indian
  • Screaming Females


  1. I am extremely jealous you saw Zookeeper. Assuming it’s the same band, it’s the front man from Mineral and The Gloria Record. The former being the best “emo” band of all time. “EndSerenading” is still one of my favorite records more than a decade later.

    Comment by Drew — March 16, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  2. […] for my health, I’m still nowhere near 100 percent, but I didn’t feel like I was gonna die at any […]

    Pingback by SXSW 2011: Day 1 « Infinite Shuffle — March 17, 2011 @ 1:35 am

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