Betwixt the loving Doug Sahm tributes with son Shawn Sahm, Augie Meyers, and Alejandro Escovedo, and a mesmerizing 1 a.m. Silver Apples turn, you could always stop and smell the jalapeño brisket tacos and listen to the nightbirds cackle and whoop. This was a South By perched at the precipice and the gaps left by the retreating MySpace party buses and major labels were filled by comedy showcases, an increased hip-hop presence, and scads of drifting local emo waifs and crust punklets, all drawn by the bright lights, frenetic activity, and word of Facebook.
You'd think the roiling brew would be combustible, yet strangely, it isn't even when you mix in all-day drinking, 80-degree weather, death metal pizza paper plates everywhere, and the odd unenlightened crack like the one I heard at the Mess With Texas free show at Waterloo Park a "si, señor" in a bad faux-Mexican accent in response to accented vocalist Ami Shalev of Israeli band Monotonix telling everyone to sit down and "shut the fuck up!" (P.S.: they did.) Perhaps these loud yet occasionally imperceptible leaps across the fissures by street-level pop groundlings and seen-it-all scenesters, united by the equalizing thunderclouds of bass drums and roach-coach allure of cheap tacos are SXSW's real treasures.
Glad I saw: PJ Harvey and John Parrish, Metallica, Silver Apples, Lady Dottie and the Diamonds, Micachu, Past Lives, Little Boots, Roy Head, Flower Travellin' Band, We Have Band, Akron/Family, Mayyors, Woods, the Sonics, Dirty Projectors, Nite Jewel, Silk Flowers, Garotas Suecas, Total Abuse, Girls, BLK JKS, Cause Co-Motion!, Tara Jane O'Neil, the Sun, Explode into Colors, the Bronx, AIDS Wolf, Moriarty, and Adam Stephens.
Most likely to benefit from band name confusion: Cut Off Your Hands (Say Yeah), Nid and Sancy.
Tele-who?: Telepathe, Telepathic Butterflies, Telekinesis
Muthas for drunk listening: Never do SXSW sober. Everything sounds better when you're drunk off your ass on Shiner Bock, stumbling into your neighbor's lit cig, and asking strangers too loudly, "What band is playing?" while Metallica roars through "Master of Puppets" in the background.
Read Kimberly Chun's full SXSW coverage on the SFBG Noise blog