THURSDAY. I see good bands.
Another fine PHILCO FICTION jam. I must say, even as a two piece they are effortlessly miles ahead of the competition. My feet feel like someone was beating them well with a baseball bat while I slept, so I make a decision to go to one place and hang all afternoon. Luckily Pitchfork have laid on a brilliant line-up. I see a note of DANNY BROWN and like it. Next up is THE WAR ON DRUGS. I was not taken with their record but live they are perfect; like a stoner Springsteen they keep the pace up and deliver tune after tune after tune. Must go back to that album. Next we skank a a little to PEAKING LIGHTS’ infinidub in a stupidly packed sideroom. Perfect.
Then outside into the sun, we meet up with Philco for SBTRKT. They queued for over an hour to get in. True Love for SBTRKT. Again, wasn’t mad about the record but this is amazing. Some propulsive drumming and maximum vibes make this a highlight. Inside, a teeny look at TRASH TALK’s heaving crowd is enough and so on to the acid scratching of CLOUD NOTHING’s abrasive but tuneful set.
Then back into the sun, for EL-P. Actually El-Motherfucking-P. He delivers in spades. New jamz and classics from Company Flow and Fantastic Damage cause me to go extremely fanboy and technically, technically….I was rapping. Ahem. Goddam. Guest spots from KILLER MIKE and MR MF EXQUIRE and SBTRKT. Absolutely brilliant. Nice to see some brains behind the mike. And the first, and ONLY mention of politics onstage that I recall all week. Except from ANR, who always give you some salt with the sugar.
I eat a burrito. It tastes of nothing. I realise I have had no free beet yet and have spent a fortune. Time to swing the balance my way.
We head down to the river for cake. And then Ruben points out that THE SHINS are playing a massive outdoor free show across on the other bank. Amazing. I love the Shins. The sound is a bit shit and they are playing in a hurricane which washes most of the sound away. Annoying.
We then head off to catch someone across town, who fails to impress.
BUT THEN, we head over to THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN. Sheer indulgence. A massive massive queue outside but we are on the guest list. A career spanning set, with the band on form. John Moore and Phil King helping the Reids deliver what is one of the loudest shows I have ever been to. They are like a fucking hurricane and that is definitely not calm in their eyes. This is easily the loudest outdoor show ever. In a tiny courtyard with a festival PA. The final Candy Talking, Taste Of Cindy, Never Understand delivers wave after wave of ear-shredding feedback that drives the less battle-hardened elements of the crowd out with their fingers wedged into their ears. Take that, other bands. We have a little driks party with the band and all of sudden it is 5am.
No cabs. At all. A drunk cowboy eventually gives us a ride in his pick up. I decline his offer to travel in the cage he has in the back. We are not killed. People are nice.
I meet our hosts, the lovely Amanda and Bill, who look after us all week, when we are too weak to remember we are hungry or to asleep to know it’s morning.
The first PHILCO FICTION show is a treat. They are playing as a two piece and it sounds crisp and lush. A pub off 6th St, and near Whole Foods. I have not eaten for 24 hrs and indulge myself on a sushi breakfast. I am worth it.
I seem to have wandered and wondered and ended up at a Pitchfork hip hop party, MR MOTHERFUCKING EXQUIRE, SCHOOLBOY Q, and things of that nature. I am only half convinced. My feet hurt, after only 24hrs. I take a lunch at the IronWorks barbecue. It is huge. A full cow. I will never eat again.
We wonder off to catch KORALLREVEN, who are nice enough but not really bringing the drama onstage. It is ridiculously hot. We pop into the Under The Radar party and pick up magazines. There is a big feature on PHILCO FICTION. Ace. We queue to see THE WEDDING PRESENT doing Seamonsters. Not sure this qualifies as work exactly but whatever. On entry, we discover our big fact sheet print off of day parties is A MASSIVE LIE. They are not on for another 24hrs. Dammit. Luckily CAVEMAN are tho. They are on my list and me and the margarita I am bonding with enjoy them greatly.
Another PHILCO FICTION out back of a bar on the end of 6th. It is like someone’s backgarden. They shine. Turid is wearing a green kimono. She stand out from the hipsters masses a mile. Star power innit.
Philco and I head off to see Sleepy Sun. I love their albums. Live, they are a tussle between something quite delicate and beautiful and a big blunt stoner rock cudgel. Hmmmm.
Next it is time to see ANR. They are 50% bigger now with the addition of Moleman pon di drums. Half Stay Kids winners and half brand new zingers and a cover of Usher’s Climax makes for a fine fine fine set. And did I mention the room is packed the fuck out. And there is a moshpit. Well, did you ever? Damn, we need to get them back to Europe soon.
I have not been invited to Willie Nelson’s house party. Fail.
The day ends.
After kissing my kids goodbye at ohmigod o’clock in the morning, I set off to Heathrow’s traditional pubs and boutiques for a morning shop. Alas, the insane notion of bringing a microscopic amount of sun cream with me sets the sentinels of Heathrow onto High Alert and a very slow search of my bags takes up all my Guinness time and a body scan eats into the time allotted to buying books I won’t actually read on the plane.
A ten hour flight to Austin zips by in a haze of half watched films and quarter bottles of wine. And some particularly unpleasant food. Except it isn’t Austin. It’s Dallas and Austin is still 4 hours away. When I finally hit the ground, it’s impressively balmy. First face I see at the airport is the impressively barmy Mr Bowen from Wichita’s barmy army, who I have not seen in an age. And Mr Ruben my co-manager of the awesomely great PHILCO FICTION. We hop a cab to the house we have been lent for the week which is about 300m from the airport and less than the minimum cab fare. Amazing. We let ourselves in, meet a dog and get some sunbathing in. It is 7pm.
We hit the conference centre for the wristband action and the cops are breaking up the queue. Odd. They make everyone behind us leave to queue again in the morning. Then they let some other people join. I’d point out the flaw in their actions but they are heavily armed and I am slightly drunk.
I am saving my iphone for wifi hotspots to avoid a colossal bill. A partial success, I think. Thank heavens for the homeless folks with wifi backpacks who are paid be AT&T to act as mobile wifi hotspots. That is genius. Or evil genius.
Amazingly I catch the 1st band I want to see, NEW MOODS, whose skunk rock is a tonic. Before that a little EXITMUSIC, featuring Jimmy Darmudy’s onscreen wife from Boardwalk Empire. They are a bit of a grind. We hop to the Stones Throw do and see Huw Stevens and Swn posse and a little STEPKIDS, who made one of my fave albums of the last year. I expect them to look like The Roots, they look like Phoenix. Amazing. Bad sound hampers the show. I have no memory of what happened after this…
Thank you to the Guardian for premiering this for us