I’m counting the minutes waiting for the party master Andrew W.K. He finally takes the stage, wearing his signature white shirt and jeans.
The crowd erupts and everyone is chanting,
“Party! Party! party!”
. . .
There is a knock on the door. My friend answers and is greeted by two Jehovah’s witnesses. I’m on the ground a few feet away. My friend who answers tells them it’s not a good time and they leave. Today I wake up on the floor of a house my friend rented two miles away from downtown. Apparently in Austin, when the SXSW festival comes around, locals will rent out there homes for the week to out-of-town concert goers while they go somewhere else. This is the closest to the festival I’ve woken up on my journey.
I take the bus into town and get off by Cheer Up Charlie’s to a parking lot filled with food trucks. Food trucks are everywhere in the city. It’s quicker and easier than sitting down in a restaurant, not to mention tasty.
For breakfast, I pick Lucky J’s chicken and waffle tacos.
6th Street is even more packed with street performers and bands. Along with patrons who have come to party and enjoy music, many people come down with their instruments just to perform in the streets.
They put out a hat, bucket, or open guitar case for donations and fill the streets with music.
One guy even hauls a wooden piano out.
The first bar stop of the day is at Barcelona. The door guy checks our IDs and we go downstairs. It’s very dark and hard to see anything. It’s 4 p.m., but the music and vibe of the bar makes it feel more like 4 a.m. It’s a little too early for this kind of rage and we continue on.
The bartender is diligently fishing out fake IDs and selling out minors to security. I take a seat by the soundboard when some cocky patron leaves his drink on the equipment. The sound guy informs the man not to leave his drinks on the expensive equipment and an explosive argument follows. The cocky patron walks away and the sound guy goes back to work.
The sound guy tells me that he’s been there all week and “doesn’t give a fuck anymore.” These people have been working relentlessly.
Every bartender, sound guy, light guy, pedicabber, etc. have been doing this for almost two weeks straight.
One bartender told me that they’d been working back-to-back 16-hour days. No reason or point being rude to these people.
Three blocks down the street I arrive early for Andrew W.K. at The Belmont, expecting to see a line around the block. The venue is empty and there are security guards everywhere. Venues around the city haven’t been allowing water bottles or any containers inside. The guys at the door heavily question my Camelbak, only to ultimately let it slide.
The sun is setting and I’m watching the Kongos from South Africa from the upstairs. My badge has allowed me to hangout in half of the VIP section. It’s slowly filling up and I’m counting the minutes waiting for the party master Andrew W.K. He finally takes the stage, wearing his signature white shirt and jeans.
The crowd erupts and everyone is chanting, “Party! Party! party!”
Over at the Red 7, security isn’t much better with my Camelbak. They grill me for a while and make me empty it. Young Widows are finishing up their set and experimental metal band Today is the Day goes on next.
The venue is loud and void of a pit as Today is the Day is getting in everyone’s faces with their unique style of metal.
I get a call to head back to the Scoot Inn. I haven’t been here for a night show yet. There are string lights hanging across the open patio creating a ceiling of light. The bartender spots me, smiles, and get me a tall boy. She still remembers me.
Next up is a rapper called LE1F, who is sporting daisy duke jean shorts and long whitish blonde hair that goes down to his knees. It’s the first hip-hop I’ve seen on this trip.
His DJ is pumping the music and bass is pulsing through the air as LE1F is spitting rhymes at the speed of light.
The ground begins to shake and the crowd is on their feet jumping. LE1F is swinging his long locks like a windmill.
The show finishes and we have time for one more. We go to the Hotel Vegas and make our way to the front. We walk backstage for a punk band called Thee Oh Sees. The place is packed and everyone is pushing their way to be as close to the stage as possible. Even the security guards are into it, pumping their fists and banging their heads.
I leave the backstage area and jump into the pit.
It’s a very respectful pit with pushing and shoving. Dirt is getting kicked up and I’m caked in it by the end of the show.