SXSW (Wednesday): Austinist Party / Austin Music Awards / Dananananakroyd @ The Dirty Dog
Various; Austin, TX

- {Austinist Party @ The Mohawk}

Following a most unfortunate encounter with {The Von Bondies} at Red 7, we headed to The Mohawk to catch {Akron/Family}, but they still hadn’t hit the outside stage. So instead of listening to the excruciating hippy-rific sounds of {Elvis Perkins in Dearland}, we sought louder refuge at the inside stage, only to find who else but {The Mae Shi}, AGAIN! Oh sweet fortune, thank thee for thy bounty! Honestly, I could watch The Mae Shi all day. They did the same songs, save for a 30 second rendition of “I Get (Almost) Everything I Want,” played the same electric autoharp, threw the same parachute over a similarly raucous crowd, but who cares! They play with a puzzling conviction that ranges from near-weeping emotionality to TPing the principal’s house gaiety, so it’s always a treat to marvel at their versatility as well as to wonder about what the heck they’re gonna do next.

Earlier in the day I asked guitarist Brad Breeck a question in a half-assed attempt to sum up the group: There are two kinds of punk bands, those who listen to “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies and really identify with it, and those who laugh at how stupid it is. Which camp does The Mae Shi fall in? He replied, “Both. It’s important to feel those things and say them, but you have to laugh at yourself too, because you’re ridiculous.” I think I may have actually sort of kind of succeeded... maybe.

Off to Akron/Family we traipsed following another enchanting set with The Mae Shi. After ages of sound-checking and finagling with instruments, they began at last. My initial thoughts were that Akron/Family could be a far better band if they would just forget the verses and just go straight into the chorus. All too often they would stick with a tinkered out drum melody and breathy vocal for too long, only to finally arrive with a beguiling melody long after my patience left the station. They’re at their best when their tunes kick into full gear and they start to float off script, but like scores of jam bands before them, they often get caught in the snares of pedantic sentimentality in exchange for daring.

All this happened before their penultimate shamanistic trance jam that just left me feeling uneasy. The trio added on four new members, each with his or her own drum, pounding along with the others a hypnotic melody that couldn’t help but send some into a swaying Woodstocky dance. Everyone on stage was obviously having fun by themselves, but I wasn’t having much fun in the crowd. Although a lot of the audience went under the spell, I couldn’t help but think this pulsing jam was more for the band themselves to get lost in instead of taking the audience, or at least me, along with them. But who knows, everyone else seemed to be having a good time. Their last tune was a dull one that reflected none of the cultish danger of the jam, and I left scratching my head towards the nearest Mexican restaurant.


- {Austin Music Awards @ Austin Music Hall}

We headed to the Austin Music Hall after dinner to see the reunion show of Austin punk legends {The Dicks}, featuring Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard’s own beloved madman {David Yow}. This was by far the most disappointing performance of the day (my TMT buddy agrees). The Dicks were preceded by two exceedingly bland Austin groups, {Suzanna Choffel, Ruthie Foster and Carolyn Wonderland} and {Bob Schneider and the Fire Ants}. We endured the muzaky display in hope that The Dicks would hit the stage soon, but unbeknownst to us, this showcase doubled as the Austin Music Awards Show. It had all the long-winded, self-gratifying trimmings of Oscar night, only with uglier people. The Dicks came on a half-hour late and played for only 20 minutes, most of which was spent with the bass turned up so loud that a dude in a hovering Harrier jet would tell the sound guy to turn it the fuck down. David Yow sang on one measly tune, and even though it’s cool that I can say I saw The Dicks, they were old and weathered and just going through the motions instead of trying to recapture their sound.


- {Dananananakroyd @ The Dirty Dog}

We wisely ended the evening with {Dananananakroyd} at the Dirty Dog. I didn’t think I would see a better punk band after The Mae Shi, but I daresay Dananananakroyd is better, if not easily more boisterous and life-affirming. Comprised of one lead singer, a drummer that floats between drums and performing dueling lead vocals, one permanent drummer, two guitarists and a bassist, Dananananakroyd is a lot to take in. They’re the happiest kids in Scotland, and they just want to play with you. From their anthemic tunes to their unbelievable manipulation of the audience into a “wall of cuddles,” Dananananakroyd are as joyous punk gets this side of Andrew W.K. But where AWK clings to simple three chord standbys, Dananananakroyd include all the expert musical intricacies of a band like Hella in their songs. At the end of their set, the two lead singers headed into the crowd and exclaimed, “We did it! We did it together!” as they high-fived the hell out of everyone within reach. We sure did do it.
A fine end to a really, really packed SXSW. I doubt any further entries on my part will be so extensive as this one.

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