SXSW Travelogue: Take to the Oars checks in from Austin on their second day of the madness

Friday, March 18

SHIT! I swore last night that I would not be sitting here tonight at 3:00 a.m. in front of the computer working on the blog -- there are after parties to be had people! -- but alas, here we are together... I'm feeling distracted by my own exhaustion, but there is so much to tell.

Today was quite the epic adventure. We didn't have a show, so we took full advantage of the situation. Can I just say that even though I'm biased as hell, Denver music is so well represented this year in Austin. May you find peace in knowing that the bands that represent our quiet little mountain village brought the thunder today. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

In the a.m., we were showered and out of the house this morning by 10:30, which we felt was a back patting accomplishment. I headed to the Austin Convention Center to help out at the artist lounge for FanTrail. In the process of navigating the security to get my badge, I caught the closing couple minutes of Bob Geldof's panel, as well.

It's strange to think that all over the city this week, so many influential people are so accessible. Apparently by the time I got to the FanTrail artist lounge, I had just missed Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, who stopped in for a coffee. While I spent most of the beautiful 80 degree day inside talking to random bands from all over the country, the rest of the guys set out early to soak in the music, and sunlight.

Here are the highlights of their day:

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  • Mikey and Chris headed over to the "Stage It: Hangover Breakfast," where Jimmy Buffet performed a live set from his home in St. Barts that streamed through Stageit.com. "Stage It" allows anyone from independent to major artists to stream a performance live in an intimate setting for anyone who wants to tune in. They recently had Forever The Sickest Kids stream an acoustic set for fans minutes before they actually got on stage. The founder of StageIt is Evan Lowestein, who you may know from the hit pop act "Evan & Jaron." A very cool and very new idea that is gaining momentum.
  • A few of us headed to the Chuggin' Monkey to catch Denver's own American Tomahawk, who quickly won over the crowd and had folks on their feet, despite it being barely midday. While at the set, we bumped into our friends in The Spring Standards from NYC, who recently toured with Meg & Dia that are playing with us tomorrow night at The Illegal Pete's Starving Artist Showcase.
  • JP's hands swell in the humidity for no apparent reason
  • Our manager, Sarah, stealthily got our debut album in the hands of none-other-than David Fricke (yes! the Senior editor of Rolling Stone)
  • Another round of swag was gathered at the Austin Music Hall at the Ume set (the band killed it, but the sound was pretty bad)
  • Mikey and Chris had a conversation with Kirk Hammet's sister, who, incidentally, looked exactly like Kirk. For the record, JP does not like Metallica at all, not even their early stuff, which the rest of the band finds slightly offensive.


Around sunset, we all reconnected and walked across the congress bridge in an attempt to get into The Strokes show at auditorium shore. It was a free show, and by the time we got there, the line of people traced the outer perimeter of the fenced off field. ADD set in, and our restless wandering led us to the Kung Fu Saloon, where the Epilogues and Input (featuring Caleb Slade) were set to play. The whole show was running behind, and by the time they took the stage, everyone was in dire need of some rock and roll.

The sound was so rough that JP, our faithful bassist and sound guru, went back and re-adjusted the levels. From that point forward, the St. Paddy's day party people were Denver Music converts. The Epilogues, followed by Input, both crushed their sets and had people grooving. Random note: Chris Layton (drummer from Stevie Ray Vaughn's Double Trouble) was at the show and appeared to be tapping his foot in perfect rhythm.

From there, we all walked back down into the heart of Sixth Street and caught our friends The Royal Heist's late night set. They are fantastic and will actually be playing in Denver next Saturday with us at the Summit Music Hall for the FallingWhistles.com benefit. We closed our tabs, said our goodbyes and headed back to the car. In a last ditch effort to grab one more drink, we walked into a bar that "Dickies" had designated as their party headquarters to see what all the racket was about. As we walked around back, we were treated to the last two songs of the Cold War Kid's intimate set. Only at SX.

Closing thought:

One thing I love about the Denver Music scene is that it feels more like a community than a competition. The evening ended with members of the Heyday, Air Dubai, The Epilogues, The Photo Atlas and us opting to buck the $6-a-beer-system by sharing store bought tallboys wrapped in rave flyers on the street. Of all the places to be and acts to watch, it felt like the perfect way to end the evening.

There were so many people in the streets today that you have to wonder if anyone bothered to show up for work.

Tonight is the Illegal Pete's Starving Artists Showcase, and it's guaranteed to be a good time.

All week, various Denverites will be checking in from Austin with travelogues about their trip to SXSW this year. Read the various exploits of Brian Frederick, The Epilogues, A. Tom Collins, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, the Photo Atlas, Air Dubai, Take to the Oars and Wheelchair Sports Camp.

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