Thursday began at The Dizzy Rooster on 6th Street as part of The Take Off Tour 2013. The bar was not packed at all, but a small crowd had assembled in front of the stage where Minnesota’s Heatbox was set up to perform his one man band show. His management team enthusiastically greeted us at the door and coerced me to sign up for the mailing list in exchange for a free CD of his newest material, Get Some Love.
It had been nearly three years since I first saw Heatbox at Summercamp 2010 and while I was secretly hoping to hear him bust out my best memory of that set, “I Need A Jack and Coke”, it was great to hear fresh music from his unique one-man-band. Seamlessly transitioning from bebop and groove to quirky sound effects-laden hip hop with little more than a loop machine and his mouth, Heatbox entertains on multiple fronts.
He closed with a hilarious new song called “Ladies Room” that graphically explains how he was banned from a mall for using one; it’s raunchy hip hop pop at it’s best.
The Tumbleweed Wanderers at Jackolope
After a quick check of my Twitter stream flooded with SXSW tweets, I took action on a recommendation from Jambase who were hosting a party a few doors down the street at The Jackalope. By the time we got there a soulful rock and roll band dusted in 60’s psychedelia called The Tumbleweed Wanderers were performing.
The Jackalope’s stage was rather small and its dance floor even smaller, tucked in the far corner of the room and largely obstructed by a central bar serving both sides of the same expansive room. The free alcohol thing you hear so much about at SXSW isn’t a lie, although I found it to be far less frequent than originally expected (see opening article, “Welcome to Austin”, about having no expectations). The Jackalope was serving free beer though, and it was a pale ale nonetheless. We stayed for two rounds and finished out The Tumbleweed Wanderers’ set before moving outside to explore more of 6th Street.
Here’s a fun video the band made while they were in Austin. After watching it, see my opening article (linked above) for a protip on catching a cab in Austin during SXSW.
One of my favorite things to do at SXSW was to wander 6th Street during the day with no specific objective. It’s a little less chaotic, several hundred fewer people are out, and the crowd is much less drunk during the day, so navigating the streets is significantly more relaxing and enjoyable. Soaking up the hot Texas sun while watching street performers became a regular pastime during my stay in Austin.
Over the course of the week, I managed to find all of the following performing along 6th Street:
- Charly & Margaux (Brooklyn) – this eye-catching pair of string composers returned to Austin for their second year at SXSW armed with a game plan to get their music into the hands of festival goers. Their tactics included an afternoon street performance, mobile iPad listening parties, and the creating of a wall mural, all of which can be seen in the video below.
- Kao=S (Japan) – a Japanese rock band (the first I’ve ever seen!) performing with authentic homeland instruments called Tsugaru-Syamisen and Shakuhachi. These instruments, paired with an acoustic guitar and the liquid movement of professional sword performer and actress Kaori Kawabuchi, captured the curious attention of many who passed by the street corner on which they were performing. (Seen here: https://vine.co/v/bdO7MVAr9FB – be sure to unmute it!)
- Although not a day performance, this band of percussionists marching down 6th Street on Saturday night was one of the biggest crowd draws I saw all week. The troop attracted so many lively fans following them down that street that the blob of people could be seen and heard from blocks away. (Seen here: https://vine.co/v/bdl1TmQmidU)
- Muncie’s own When, Not If looking like the Midwestern hippies that they are, playing acoustic tunes on the corner of busy Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. (seen here: vine.co/v/bdg2vYTTDPt)
- This guy, juggling knives while balancing on a rolling platform: https://vine.co/v/bdhhPb9ZLmq
- The Ugly Club
For a recap of my first day at SXSW, check out Partying with Sonos & Falling in Love With Oregon