Saturday in Austin: out at the silly hour of noon despite the previous night’s revelries. Sadly, without our winter clothes, the day’s shockingly frigid winds put us on shaky ground as we crossed the bridge over to S. Congress. We made an attempt to keep warm by being fake sporty, jogging on and off until our sides split.  Then we ducked into the closest Starbuck’s, inside a hotel lobby, for a hot jolt. The fireplace there, surrounded by cushy arm chairs, was calling to us, yet we put aside any absurd thoughts of comfort and thrust ourselves back into the brutal Austin air to make our way to Latitude 30 to catch The Crookes, who were just revving up the PRS For Music Foundation / British Music Abroad brunch.


This Sheffield band of talented, bookish fellows (with songs inspired by Edwardian tales and other nostalgic themes), were worth waking up for, dressed in their shiny shoes and dapper dress shirts, at times sounding a little bit Buddy Holly, another bit 1920′s meets 50′s, complete with ukelele and smiles.  They ended their set in the midst of the charmed audience, not forgoing a group hug after gathering into a tight circle for a sweet, harmony-laden song, sung a capella.


After a few sleepy bands who followed, we decided to hightail it to the Aussie BBQ just in time to catch a stirring set from New Zealand’s Surf City (note the JAMC reference in their name), a Strokes-meets-Animal Collective, psychedelic punk band with stirring tunes like “Dickshakers Union” and “Headin’ Inside.”


Upstairs at the Pop Frenzy party in Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, Best Coast lulled us (in a good way) through our brunch-time beer with rich and fuzzy, surf pop tunes.  Singer Bethany Cosentino’s sultry-voiced tales of boys and breakups, with 1960′s-style titles like “Wish He Was You” and “Make You Mine” brought some beach vibes into the room, chasing out the day’s cold weather doldrums, at least for the length of her band’s precise, 25-minute set.


Circling back to the British Embassy for the Liverpool Sound City – The Best Of The Northwest event, we caught some clean, Top of the Pops-sounding tunes from Manchester’s Ten Bears, yet admittedly, we were more mesmerized by the curves of the singer’s odd cap than their set.

Bracing the outdoors, we headed over to Club Deville for the “Harley Does Austin” party, curated by Vice.  Sadly, the weather put a bit of a damper on the frontyard festivities, namely, the “Thrill of the Throttle,” where anyone willing, (even wimps like me who wouldn’t dare take a chance and drive a bike on her own), could rev up and “ride” any of the stationary Dark Custom motorcyles on display.  Meanwhile, in the tent out back, heat lamps thawed us out as we stood in awe of Thee Oh Sees, a raw, pounding band from San Fran, whose death-defying show, played on the patio rather than the stage, led one more electro-bent Sentimentalist editor to say, “They’re probably the first rock band I’ve ever really enjoyed.” Watch the set for yourself: John Dwyer & Co. = Intensity. –Madeline Virbasius


Over at Rusty Spurs, Essex, UK’s Angry Vs. The Bear brought back the big hair’d, 80′s electronic dance music we all wished we were part of but were too young to understand or appreciate.  I want fingerless lace gloves now.

Later that night, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop was home to the larger-than-life, glammer-than-glam show of Michael Monroe (of Hanoi Rocks fame).  Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, treat yourself to a few of the most titillating poses we will someday tell our grandkids about.–Tear-n Tan


Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks at Maggie Mae's Rooftop

Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks at Maggie Mae's Rooftop

It was getting late, dropping to the 30′s.  The bands who had sweatshirts for sale made a killing.  Only the die-hards were roaming the streets.  Not true.  There will always be the intrepid SXSWers in search of great bands, however extreme the conditions.  The locals, though, were lucky enough to have parkas.

Saturday night was one of the busiest, but with some of us getting food poisoning (thanks food) and seemingly every act being booked at the same time, I went off alone, deciding to just pick shows without planning ahead.

I made my way to the Wave, entirely unsure of what to expect from either Darlings of Chelsea or Mad Juana; (Someone mumbled something about gypsies and Gogol Bordello to me, but you know with the fever I had, everything had something to do with gypsies). I was floored, by both, but by Mad Juana especially.  Check out some live footage for yourself.

Few bands seen for the first time prompt me to gallop to the bar out back to buy them tequila shots in the middle of their set. The bartender leaned in and asked me: “are they someone famous” about the band, I replied, “yes of course,” because, well, I had no idea really, and also everyone is famous now, some more rightfully than others. After dropping a bunch of these tequila shots on other audience members I had to redo the process again, do you know how many members are in Mad Juana? It seemed like there were at least 15; (it’s actually 7).

Karmen Guy, the singer, belted out sad flamenco that aimed to lose all sadness in irregular dancing, punctuated by the mad staccato of drums and the warbling saxophone (usually Danny Ray), combined with the shrieking of the trombone that sounded like the past I often make up for myself, something dark, impressive, yet simple.

Darlings Of Chelsea are just tight, their fans are nuts about them, the songs run one into the next on the maddening pace of drums.  They’re a possible spawn of glam punk and Canada, so that would make it a nicer glam punk, I guess. The British flair to the name comes partially from the lead singer, since he’s from there.  He stands out by not wearing New York Dolls style make-up, instead dressed like a good little subversive punk in a simple t-shirt. They played with a lot more gusto than a lot of the Brit bands I’ve seen at this year’s SXSW.  Not to digress, but I usually I expect that country to provide blasts of renewed youth and vigor, arising in the midst of its aging carcass of a welfare society).  This year it seems these laurels belong to the U.S., Australia and Canada, congratulations guys, uhmm, countries.

Later on I went to see how the line around the Vice party was doing, but it wasn’t doing much, still early, so I went to the Driskill, which normally should be a stately place to enjoy a drink while perusing the covers of the label compilations I picked up at the Wave. Instead, of course, it was an over-the-top meat market of straight-laced John Mayer fans packing the bar.

Back at the Vice party line, I claimed up and down to be from a very important publication/sneaker company/sneaker factory/just a factory, so I got to hang out in the VIP line, which didn’t matter because none of the lines were moving. I’m pretty sure Gavin McInnes (one of the primordial founders of Vice) was being rowdy in front of the VIP line. He had to wait, and wait and wait. I’m not sure though if it was him, I didn’t want to lose my precious space in the line; I’m Russian, I know about the philosphy of the line and where I stand in relation to it. I could verify this by sending him an email, but I just don’t feel like it.  Sometimes these faint visions in the darkness of the night are enough to keep me quietly chuckling and coming back, hoping for another surprise.

–Zabatay/Michael Monroe, Surf City, Ten Bears, The Crookes (1st), Angry Vs. The Bear photos by Tear-n Tan, others by Eileen Murphy, video of Mad Juana and Thee Oh Sees by Zabatay

  1. I’m no meteorologist, but it seems it was frigid that night.
    I’m inserting some of the videos, I hope you don’t mind.


  2. I this show. Great!

    I think the current singer for Darlings of Chelsea is from Canada. Old singer quit before the tour, I think.


    zabatay Reply:

    @Chico, Hey, thanks for the tip. I sent a missive to the band asking about the singer. It would just build the Fuck Yeah Canada if true.


  3. [...] Saturday, Tear-n Tan found Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks) in mid-split, and more… [...]