It doesn’t exactly make sense to start here since this was actually the last thing we did at SXSW, the last show during our last full night in Texas. But!!! This is the whole thing isn’t it? This is why we went to Austin and this is why we made the zine so let’s just start with this even if writing this makes me want to cry.
The day of this show I think everyone was hungover, which just seems to be the status quo during this “”festival.”” Luis and I got to the venue at 6 and it was a little bit scary. The venue was some sort of bougie sports bar/wings looking place. They were playing like god knows what but it was some horrible top 40 fucking music, though calling it that might be a disservice to top 40—it was whatever 2018’s equivalent of LMFAO is.
The whole gang shows up pretty soon after! Brian (CHILLEMI), Kyle Avallone, Luis, Cheryl (Georgette — one of our photo editors!), Nasa (our fearless leader!!!) and we start to get shit going. We throw together some sort of lighting rig thanks to the very nice sound man who wanted to help us as much as he could and we set up the merch table. I think everyone starts drinking immediately because we have BUD LIGHT DRINK TICKETS (wild and boisterous luxury) and because I think we’re all fucking stressed out of our minds—like 10 months of planning and crying coming to fruition.
It’s bizarre to be halfway across the country and still feel like you’re at Alphaville or Birdy’s—running into and meeting a lot of the same people you would at a show on any given weeknight in Bushwick. But it was also nice to meet some new people and see people show up and spend some money on merch (and zines!!) and see people be entranced by musicians and performers they’ve never even heard of before.
Kyle Avallone starts his set and I think everyone is already relieved because we’ve sold some merch before he’s even started and he starts and he’s doing his strung out and tweaky Leonard Cohen in the black lodge set and the room is pretty full too. It’s as impressive as it always is but outside of New York is especially captivating.
CHILLEMI goes on next and it’s nice to see him playing solo and fully embracing the new direction he’s going in with “Neon Bride” and the upcoming release of With Woman. Nasa joined CHILLEMI on stage for the last song of the set which is a heart wrenching duet about the bleakness of love surviving the hellish firestorm it always has to go through (but especially in the music scene, and especially in Brooklyn).
Bambara is on next and holy shit I mean I know I talk about blood, sweat, and gore—but this time there was all of it! Blaze hits himself in the face with a drumstick (I think) and has to leave the stage to wipe up the blood on his face (!!!!!!). They are playing a mixture of the old and the new (shit from the just released Shadow on Everything) and I worry (but also kind of hope) at some points that Reid is going to thrash around so hard that he’s going to concuss himself.
Next are BOYTOY and holy shit they get tighter and tighter as a band every time I see them. I wanna compare them to a revved up engine but that seems gross and weird I’m really not sure what it is I want to say about them. Basically it’s just that they seem so professional—they really know what they’re doing, they’re confident and they make it really embarrassing for anyone else to try and attempt the spin on east coast surf rock that they’ve managed to create.
Video by Cheryl Georgette
It’s hard not to be jaded about shows and performers the more shows you go to but at this point the only person I really don’t tire from seeing is Promiseland. I’ve also spent the better part of my time in Austin getting to know Johann and while knowing the artist sometimes comes at the detriment of being able to enjoy their art—with Johann it’s exactly the opposite. I’m not sure that I’ve met someone so pleasant and buoyant in my entire life—he seems to be brimming with happiness and something else that is literally so foreign to me I’m struggling to put a finger on it but I’m going to call it enthusiasm. His performance (which I’ve literally talked about so. many. times.) is kind of the opposite of that which I suppose makes sense since every peak needs to have a valley. ANYWAYS I’m not going to spend too much time on this but watching Promiseland is just life affirming.
Last on was Surfbort and in all honesty I split pretty soon into their set—I had gotten into a wild argument with the venue manager and he was pretty obviously some short white aggro hetero dude who thought this was the only avenue of compensating for his small penis (CLASSIQUE). BE THAT AS IT MAY I was frustrated and tired and exhausted and was trying to get ahead of the meltdown that I knew was coming (and then came!). BUT! If I know a Surfbort show I’m sure it was thrashing and full of manic laughter and talk of loving people, friendship, and music.