This year is now the fourth in a row that I’ve skipped South by Southwest. My liver and wallet are both grateful, but for the first time in a long while, I kind of miss the annual city-spanning branding expo/music showcase/dream-building exercise/jade-ifcation engine, despite its crass commercialism, massive crowds, sanity-stealing traffic, trash-covered streets, beer-and-pee-slick alleys, and an atmosphere that allows branding experts, social media influencers, and publicists to thrive like swarms of flies buzzing above a battlefield covered in piles of rotting, shit-leaking corpses. I wish I were there right now to once again jot down pithy observations on my iPhone’s notepad and hopefully catch the Oh Sees. I’m not feeling FOMO as much as BIMO ––Bummed I’m Missing Out.
If you’re down there and want to watch local bands, the Dreamy Life Showcase is at The Electric Church (5018 E Cesar Chavez St) at 6:30pm on Saturday. For your convenience, the lineup for that free party is (in alphabetical order): Acid Carousel, Johndavid Bartlett, The Cush, The Fibs, Steve Gnash, Hoaries, Mañana Cowboy, Pearl Earl, Same Brain, The Thyroids, Ting Tang Tina, and War Party.
Seeing your friends’ bands play in an out-of-town showcase is a big part of what makes SXSW fun, especially if any of those bands have transcended the local level and are now kind of a big deal. Currently a pretty big deal, the Quaker City Night Hawks are playing at least four more times this week: Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion on Thursday, the Yeti Party at the Yeti Flagship Store, and Bandit Town Texas Bound (in nearby Manor) on Friday, as well as the Big Velvet Revue at the Rustic Tap on Saturday. All of those shows are listed with ticketing/RSVP links at Quakercitynighthawks.com.
QCNH have been in Travis County since Saturday, when they played Hear Fort Worth’s Fort Worth on Rainey event as headliners as part of a fairly diverse lineup that included rappers Lou Charle$, Smoothvega, and Solar Slim with DJ Chico. Other acts that played are DJs Jason Faries Rizkill and Sober, roots-rockers Grady Spencer & The Work, Matthew McNeal, and Jack Barksdale, gospel-leaning singer-songwriter Abraham Alexander, the Fleetwood Mac-inspired Danni & Kris, and piano popster Ansley. Of course, this being SXSW and all, all those artists were there to complement Cowtown’s visitors bureau, as well as some of its biggest companies, like Mrs. Renfro’s, TX Whiskey, Lockheed Martin, and Bell Helicopter.
I watched a Hear Fort Worth video in which Bell spokesman Levi Bilbrey mentioned how Bell (a.k.a. the company that brought you the helicopters from the “Ride of the Valkyries” scene in Apocalypse Now) was there to interact with the general public. I thought that was an odd thing to say, because it’s not like the general public is in the market for an attack chopper (or any of Bell’s civilian models, for that matter), unless Bell is suddenly like a car dealership and Bilbrey was alluding to some hypothetical promotional event. “Get $10,000 cash back on all 2019 Huey II’s at the Bell Helicopters Spring Clearance Sale,” he might have said, if this was in fact the case, perhaps exhorting us to also test-fly a V-22 Osprey, which may or may not come in standard and King Ranch editions.
Whatever, I guess, because that kind of commercial weirdness is pretty much what SXSW is about. I texted QCNH frontman Sam Anderson to ask about that show. “Fort Worth show was tite because you can hear a bunch of cool artists and then scatter bomb a fictitious city in the Lockheed simulator,” he replied. Then he told me about how he saw the Oh Sees.