Courtney Barnett, Sausages + Pedicabs: SXSW Recap, Day Two
When you're running on just a couple hours of sleep -- like nearly everyone at SXSW -- you have two options: You can say to yourself, "I'm going to treat my body right and take an afternoon nap," or you can exclaim, "I hate my body," down a Tecate and get back to 6th Street.
(If you're wondering, we're proponents of the latter strategy.)
The second day of Austin's massive music festival brought with it some unforgettable performances by the likes of TV on the Radio (NPR showcase at Stubb's), American Aquarium (Conqueroo/Guitartown Kick-Off Party), Best Coast (Hype Hotel) and Laura Marling (Third Man Records shindig) -- just to name a few. But if we had to pick out the stand-out stars of Day Two at SXSW, these are our picks:
Best Set of the Night -- Courtney Barnett
SXSW's most whispered-about artist played her forthcoming album front to back for the first time at the NPR Music SXSW Showcase at Stubb's Wednesday night. The name of Courtney Barnett's intensely buzzing debut LP? Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit. But if you've seen the Australian singer and guitarist do her thing live, you know that her style isn't the least bit sedentary. The set's opener salvo, "Elevator Operator" was three ripping minutes of searing, full-band country rock — save the pedal steel. Barnett prefers a power trio, and they make more than enough noise to get the job done. To wit, second song "Pedestrian at Best," sounded even grungier and more disturbed than it does on record, gushing from the stage with all the off-kilter intensity of a Patti Smith verse set to In Utero-era Nirvana. She spit dryly funny poems all night — like "Depreston," a song about house-hunting that includes a gag about a recently purchased percolator ("now we're saving $23 a week!") — while the two dudes backing her leant support to her shouts, sneers, and shred. It was over too soon, leaving us with ringing ears and a head full of weird and witty lines to contemplate. Her final words: "All I want to say is..."
Best Joint to Eat Sausage, Get Tattooed and Watch Live Music -- Banger's
We'd like to claim this is the only place in Austin where you can eat a turducken sausage while sipping exquisite Belgian ales and listening to live local Americana, but the more time we spend here, the more we realize that "simultaneous access to beer, sausages, and music" must be written into the city's Bill of Rights. That said, this is definitely the only watering hole where you can also get a free tattoo. It's the Banger's logo (and technically they send you to a proper tat shop), but it ain't bad: a frothy beer mug combined with a cowboy boot. You'll be humming Emilie Clepper & the Coyotes' cover of Johnny Cash's "Understand Your Man" all the way to the chair.
Best Mode of Transportation -- This Guy
The great thing about SXSW is there is so much music, but with hundreds of different venues spread out all over the place, commuting to each haunt can get a bit tiring (just ask our feet). When you're feeling like you can't make it another block, have no fear, Pedicab Man is here! As if the guys and gals who bust their tails on these bikes weren't impressive enough, when they don superhero costumes, they earn our complete and utter respect.
Best Writing on a Bathroom Wall -- The Dirty Dog
Because when you're operating on no sleep and a steady diet of Tecate, sometimes you can find inspiration of the strangest of places ... like the bathroom at the Dirty Dog. As we dig deep to rally for the rest of SXSW, we will never forget these fateful words: "Mr. Owl ate my metal worm."
Are you one of the thousands of fans who have descended upon Austin to experience all SXSW has to offer? Leave a comment below and let us know what you're up to and what shows you can't wait for!