SXSW 2013 Guest Blog: Tumbleweed Wanderers Praise Clean Laundry and Dive Bars
[Editor's Note: Because SXSW is such a huge event, Diffuser.fm asked a bunch of cool bands to help us cover the fest by filing guest blog posts. Among those who said yes: Tumbleweed Wanderers, a genre-blurring Americana crew from Oakland, Calif. These dudes conjure sweet memories of the Zombies, CSNY and other '60s faves, and in their first dispatch from Austin, keyboardist and mandolin player Patrick Glynn touches on laundry, booze and the challenges of festival sets. There's even a video at the end. Enjoy!]
Waking up feeling hot and drained. Sleeping doesn’t seem to work like it used to. At least not since I’ve been at South By. The neighborhood is loud in the morning, not so much from the sound of cars driving by, but from birds tweeting rude hashtags, chickens just minding their own thing and the sound of seven touring musicians’ clothes spinning around the washer and dryer. There’s nothing like fresh laundry, especially on tour. Doing laundry becomes a sacred community activity that doesn’t happen too frequently. When the cost of clean clothes equals a third of your daily payout, you become wise in the ways of preserving clothes. But who cares about laundry.
Most days start with a coffee for me, just because I love the taste and the warm feeling I get inside. I enjoy caffeine like most Americans, and this morning it was so necessary, otherwise my thoughts would not happen, this blog post would not happen, the piano and organ at our show would not happen, nothing would have happened if it weren’t coffee. That’s why I wanna give a shout out to all the hard working employees at Thunderbird coffee shop on Manor road. They have good coffee when it cools down and the pumpkin bread was off the chain! It gave me the spicy cinnamon strength to start my day. Today is special, though. It’s our first show at South By.
We might be the only band that is early to gigs. For South By, it’s kind of a curse, because I have yet to go to a show that was running on time, or running good sound. It is such a massive event that there seems to be a shortage of sound guys with any knowledge of running sound. We show up to the Jackalope at noon, half an hour before our load-in. Fortunately, we only had to carry our gear one block to the venue. This place is pretty weird. The TV’s are showing some cult film that features a lot of naked women with parts of flesh missing. It’s quite lovely. I asked the bartender the name of it so I could watch it with my girlfriend for our anniversary. Unfortunately, I lost the paper with the name — this was due to the bartender, though. How can you offer free beer to musicians at 1PM? It’s a surefire way of turning a soul to alcoholism. Anyways, our set time was 1:55, but we went on closer to 2:30. All the South By set are quick and dirty: load-in, play, load-out and good luck finding parking. Porter Robinson taught me festival sets just have to be “bangers”; that’s what everyone likes. This seemed to be the longest 40-minute set I’ve played in a long time. It felt good playing in a dingy bar, amps set loud and no monitors. It’s very much like being a beagle. It’s easier if you just let it all go. It is very thrilling. It felt like playing our very first shows again. It’s really hard to hear everything, and you just hope beyond hope your musical ideas come across well. Gotta love the dive-bar gigs.
South By has taught me I need better shoes. They need better sound people. The amount of free stuff is ridiculously awesome. If you’re late to a show, chances are it probably hasn’t started yet. Also, feed yourself. I have a hard time doing that last one. This massive festival is a total mind-f—. It’s great — I love it — but I’d rather come to Austin while the festival isn’t here and experience the city on its own.
Watch Tumbleweed Wanderers Navigate SXSW