It really has taken us a week to recover from SXSW but I thought, while still fresh in mind, I would do a run down of things we went to that will give you an idea of what the event is like (hopefully).
MONDAY 10th MARCH – The travelling day
Fused set off from Birmingham at 4.15am to get to Gatwick to catch our 11am flight to Houston. We decided to go down via National Express and given the howling winds and almost torrential rain were more than happy to let someone else do the driving. However mid-way through the journey when the driver pulled over and told us the windscreen wipers had broken we started to get a little nervous. This event pretty much set the tone for the 5000 or so mile journey.
The driver eventually got us to Heathrow and put us on another coach for the final leg to Gatwick Airport. So an hour later than planned we got to Gatwick to be told that our airplane would be delayed by 2 hours as it was unable to land because of the winds. The knock on effect of this is that we would miss our connection to Austin. Great start.
Meanwhile in the South Gatwick Terminal the Copter/Swampmeat/Big Bang camp boarded their plane with no problems. But at the connecting airport – Dallas – Copter bassist Woz got ‘busted’. Now there is a sticky issue of visas when it comes to playing the US. It is a grey area and many bands don’t bother getting one especially if it is a one-off event. So after 3 hours of interagation and no way to prove that Woz was a proffessional musician or making money out of the gig (the band borrowed their guitars whilst there) he was left to continue his journey. He (and Mark Copter who stayed behind to wait for him) missed their connecting flights too and were given a flight the next day to meet the rest of the bands.
So Fused arrived 4 hours late (not bad considering the delays), Copter/Swampmeat/Big Bang almost as planned, the lucky Deluka girl and boys had been to Vegas so arrived ontime and Trash Fashion managed to squeeze in an extra gig on Monday night in Houston. So by Tuesday afternoon we had all made it.
TUESDAY 11th MARCH
So we had settled in to our B&B and woke up feeling refreshed (the delay’s with the flights meant we were pretty much in US time without suffering any jetlag). It was time to explore. Our accomodation was on 22nd street – the action takes place around 6th street so either a 40 minute walk or lucky for us a 5 minute free bus ride on the city’s ‘Dillo‘ service (cute rickety buses that look like old fashioned trams) which stopped right outside the B&B.
We went to the Convention Centre where we bumped in to Deluka and friends (where they hold lots of the talks for official badge holders) to pick up our wristbands and went to check out the location of our venue (only a 2 minuite walk from the main stretch of action on 6th).
The first thing we noticed about downtown Austin was the sheer amount of venues. Along congress, 6th Street and Red River there is a large concentration of bars. They vary in sizes and quality but it appears that most have the ability to put on a gig at the drop of a hat (or amp).
Content with the location (all be it nothing we could if we weren’t) we decided to hit our first party. The ‘Howdy Texas’ event was held at Stubb’s BBQ – Stubb’s is one of the most established venues with an outdoor area that was able to hold a large outdoor stage.
Many of the parties have free food (usually BBQ) and drinks. You usually have to RSVP beforehand to get on the guestlist but we found that as people knew we were going to the event we received lots of invites as there is a lot of competition to get people to the events.
The parties have bands and DJ’s playing too to keep you entertained inbetween ‘official’ showcases.
So after the BBQ it was getting in to the early evening – we had arranged to meet the bands at Buffalo Billiards on 6th Street (a large sports bar with table football, darts, billiards and lots more) where you can always seem to get a table and a snack (although you have to deal with rude staff and a long wait to do so). Austin based photographer Jean-Philippe Martin also popped in to say hello as he was due to take pics at the showcase.
As the bands wanted to see the venue close up we headed on down to the Tap Room and bumped in to some the Birmingham guys who were there for the ‘Interactive’ part of the festival. Pete Ashton and Stef Lewandowski were joined by someone they had met from Bebo and invited us all upstairs to an MTV party where the crowd were eagerly waiting to play the new ‘Rock Band‘ game.
So at 2am it was time for bed before the big showcase….
TO BE CONTINUED