More light sleep for the morning of day three at SXSW. I got up early and went downtown to sit in on a panel. I felt like some music, though, and started to wander the streets of Austin more doggedly than I did the days before.
I caught sets by No, the Barr Brothers, Idle Warship, Alberta Cross, and Sugar and the Hi-Lows. After a quick rest and my first soaking bath in weeks, I went back downtown and saw whoever happened to be playing wherever I was. I intended to see Elle King but left Stubb's after Of Monsters and Men to see Big Star at the Ginger Man, thanks to a recommendation by Michael Giblin.
To be fair, I'd never heard of them. But, as Gibby proclaimed, I'd heard them in dozens of bands over the last forty years. The original line-up included Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel, and Jody Stephens. Hummel, Bell, and Chilton have all passed away—Chilton, in fact, died days before a scheduled Big Star reunion at 2009's SXSW. The line-up now consists of drummer Stephens along with Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies.
The documentary "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" premiered at this year's SXSW and was immediately followed by a tribute show playing the band's final album, "Third". For this set at Ginger Man, the band was joined by Peter Buck (R.E.M.), John Doe (X), Cotton Mather, Ian Moore, and others.
At times, I could hear bits of what would later come from the 70's British glam I so dearly love. Sometimes the music sounded like the missing Tom Petty song. And I had absolutely no idea that the theme from "That 70's Show"—"Out in the Street"—was a Big Star song covered by Cheap Trick for the show.
Gibby also introduced me to the first beer I've ever liked, a raspberry Lambic. Normally, I like neither beer nor raspberry, but the Lindeman's Framboise was yummy girl beer.
I talked to all these amazing people as I walked around Austin, and I walked for miles and miles each day. It was the most kinetic I'd been since my surgery at the beginning of February. I loved every second of it. Every bar and club has a band playing from noon until two a.m., plus the stages and tents set up around town for parties and showcases. There are street musicians on virtually every corner. The only place to hide from the music was in my head, and my thoughts rushed in time to the cacophony that is SXSW.
There were a lot of bands I wanted to catch, but there are just too many playing at the same time to see them all. Many of the shows are so damn crowded that it's incredibly difficult to get in the door to see the set. But you can often hear it from outside. And it's cool to stand there, surrounded by the mayhem and smells and laughter from everywhere, hearing some song you may or may not know, from some band that you may or may not love. You'd better enjoy it while you can, though, because something else is going to come quickly along and distract you from one moment, plunging you headlong toward the next.