Music fest diary


South by Southwest has barely started, and already a serious amount of brain chaos has entered my skull. Before I left Brooklyn, New York, I went to the doctor to make sure that the state of my liver and cholesterol level were sufficient to survive this week. He gave me a clean bill of health and earplugs. I have a rock doc, but one that doesn't dish out Percocet on demand, sadly.

I arrived in Austin on Tuesday to play two parties. The first was BMI's annual Welcome to SXSW Music Conference party, inside at Stubb's, 7pm. The second party was an End of SXSW Film Conference party, on the outside stage at Stubb's, 7:40pm. This was confusing to me: playing the same venue at virtually identical times – two places at once at the same place – and starting one before the other one ended. Brain chaos.

I have a full band for this tour, four people onstage. This has created what I might imagine is a common SXSW problem if you're an "artist" with a band. Take note: people will come to parties and showcases because their friends texted them to show up, and they will have no idea who's onstage at any given time. At one point, they just might tear their eyes away from their iPhones and Blackberries and gaze up at the stage and wonder to themselves, "I wonder what this band is called?" Then, as you're frantically striking your gear after performing, they'll vocalize this thought loudly from midvenue: "What is you guyes band called!?"

Now, if you're a "Jesse" or a "Ryan" or a "Kate," it'll be very apparent that you're a solo artist and anyone onstage can reply with your full name, point in your direction, and the matter will be settled. But when you have a foreign, funny sounding, and alliterative name that could easily be interpreted as some kind of weird inside joke or obscure reference, this will leave your interlocutor deeply unsettled, causing them to ask fellow audience members, many of them equally clueless, what act they just saw. One bright soul might reply, "I can't think of her name right now, but she might be the best guitar player under 5 feet 1 inch I've ever seen ..."

SXSW showcase: Thursday, March 13, 18th Floor @ Hilton Garden, 10:50pm.

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