Girls Can Tell

Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed

There he was, at the crack of dawn (which, in this biz, is somewhere shy of noon), all smiling and cherubic and waiting for a kick to the calf from an overcaffeinated journalist. One good whack to Ben Dickey's unsuspecting leg got his attention, and almost got me smacked. It's kind of surprising that Dickey was up that early, given the many, many, many hats he wears, from running Post-Parlo Records to booking for Ground Control Touring to playing in his own band, Western Keys. "I'm here with Spoon, Crooked Fingers, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, the Golden Republic, and Zykos. I've got absolutely nothing to do." We laugh uneasily, fully aware of what the looong days ahead hold. "I'm tired already," he says ruefully. Get some rest, Ben. Sorry I kicked you so hard.

Crystal Carrington, C'est Moi

Speaking of Zykos, Dickey's workload may be lightening after their performance at Emo's day party, which garnered some UK label interest. (Also on the bill was a wealth of local bands like What Made Milwaukee Famous and Shearwater, in addition to visitors Castanets and Great Lake Swimmers.) Zykos frontman Mike Booher took full advantage of the empty bleachers to string up his guitar and spill the beans about his band's imminent plans. First off, he and keyboardist Catherine Davis are going on the road as a stripped-down version of the fivepiece at the invitation of Ben Lee and Har Mar Superstar. Their first show is March 21 in Denver. No rest for the wicked. After that, the entire outfit will hit the road for an April tour with the Good Life. Sadly, Davis was nowhere to be seen this afternoon, much to my disappointment. I'm unsure whether she's still pissed at me for revealing her embarrassing band nickname last year, but I was hoping we could resolve our differences with a ferocious yet cathartic slap fight so that we could make up and be BFF. Alas, I must move on with this wish unfulfilled. I did get to visit with the gorgeous and incredibly sweet Beth Kingcaid, who was there to support her husband Michael and What Made Milwaukee Famous. I'm sure I'll piss her off at some point; it's good to plant as many catfight seeds as possible to keep things interesting.

Beware the Boxing Octopus

Here's where I make an embarrassing confession – I had not yet had the extreme good fortune to hear local wunderkinds the Octopus Project until today. Color me ashamed. I had one foot out the door and headed to another party when their thoroughly engrossing rocktronica got my innards vibrating. And how adorable is teensy Yvonne Lambert's little flippy do?

Call Me Ishmael

On a whim, I called Sub Pop publicist Steve Manning because we haven't chatted in dog's years and also his label's latest acquisition is none other than the feminist heroines Sleater-Kinney. Dear Mr. M just happened to be escorting the S-K ladies to the Fader party to score some free jeans (is SXSW swag going the way of Sundance? Anyone care to wager that bands will be snagging free Hummers in the coming years?). Thus commenced obsessive fangirl stalking, with me fruitlessly canvassing the general vicinity for the women responsible for unleashing the best breakup-recovery album ever into the world (All Hands on the Bad One). No luck. My personal white whale slips away into the wilds of downtown.

Big Red Face

After giving up the quest for S-K satisfaction, I moseyed over to Big Red Sun, the site of NX35, otherwise known as the Denton, Texas, party. Organized by Chris Flemmons, the lineup included Centro-matic's Will Johnson (natch), Flemmons' band the Baptist Generals, recently ex-Slobberbone Brent Best, and Lo-Fi Chorus, among many others. Patrons stood around socializing, gobbling $7 ceviche and crunching around in the gravel or sneaking off to partake of the film and art offerings in the building. Of course, it's not a party if the cops don't show up, and they did not disappoint. Some none-too-subtle eavesdropping yielded the information that Flemmons was relieved of his rental car, which held a G4 laptop and $1,000 petty cash for the event, mere feet away from the nursery/performance space's entry. Good thing the beer was free, or Flemmons might not have been quite so affable. Welcome to Austin, where, um, your stuff is our stuff too!

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