SXSW Day 5-The Triumph of the Blogosphere...High Times at High Times...Why in God's Name Am I At The Perez Hilton Party?
Bloggers are every journalist's favorite whipping boy. If a shitty band gets too popular, blame the bloggers. If the standards of professional journalism have eroded too much, blame the bloggers. If by 2010, Vampire Weekend has inspired legions of college freshmen to dress as ironic yachters, blame the bloggers. Ultimately, it's as easy to scapegoat the blogosphere as it is to blog and at worst, blogs are benign (at least music ones), at best you discover a lot of good music for free. The horror.
Most importantly, the blogosphere knows how to party, which I discovered at the blogger-promoted Hot Freaks party on Saturday afternoon, a place where Al-Queda could've wiped out 82 percent of the game had it gotten enraged by one post too many about the peace-promoting qualities of the Arcade Fire (Osama hates Neon Bible). I'm not exaggerating either, the place was a veritable Elbo.ws chat room (for those keeping score, that may have been my nerdiest joke ever). While watching Islands, Lykke Li, and Japanese cartoon psychos Peelander-Z, I stumbled across My Old Kentucky Blog, Gorilla Vs. Bear, Aquarium Drunkard and Rock Insider. Other bloggers in attendance who I didn't have the pleasure of meeting included Chromewaves, Largehearted Boy and You Ain't No Picasso, who was presumably searching for Picasso.
As I am half-blogger, half-journalist, a rare combination that also allows me to breath both underwater and on land, the Hot Freaks collective handed me a VIP badge that allowed me to carve a wanton path of destruction through the festival and/or gorge myself on the free and very delicious tacos and open bar with kegs of Fat Tire, whichever came first. The weather was warm, the food was good, and on the main-stage, the bizarre candy-colored Japanese three-piece, Peelander-Z lived up to the freak component of the party nomenclature. Indeed, Frank Z. himself would've gotten a kick out of these half-awesome, half-retarded nutjobs who played like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers crossed with the Boredoms, crossed with cover-boys for the Japanese version of Fruity Pebbles. I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy one of their LPs, but they were entertaining as hell live, with a bat-shit crazy lead singer running around the party, hooting and hollering all sorts of strange Japanese gibberish.
Sadly, Chef Ra's Presidential Campaign was De-Railed Amidst Allegations That His Minister Performed Several Anti-Weed Sermons
After watching Lykke Li solidify her bid for the 2008 Annie Award for Swedish "Chanteuse" Most Likely to Win the Hearts of Indie Kids, I scuttled out of onto the street, the voodoo strains of the Islands' "Where There's a Will There's a Whalebone," following me out onto Red River. With more food and drink on my mind, I suddenly remembered that the High Times party was going on right next door. It was crowded, surprising, considering that I'd assumed that everyone would've been too stoned to remember to come. But as it turned out, they'd remedied the problem by doing their burning in a back patio while 60s stoner-metal pioneers Blue Cheer ripped off some psychedelic guitar licks. Within five minutes, someone handed me the joint and told me they worked for NORML
Weeding my way further into the festivities, I discovered a corner with a small semi-circle of people toked up (hippies only "toke"). In the middle stood a man in his early 60s, white hair, High Times badge and long gray ponytail. He looked just like Willie Nelson. Passing me a pipe, someone whispered, "that's the editor of High Times." Glancing up, someone handed Willie a nug of weed which he held up to his eye and scrutinized like a gemologist. I half-expected him to pull out a monocle and a microscope. Before I could petition him for the job of official West Coast Bureau Chief, Blue Cheer ended, and the editor vanished into a cloud of smoke.
That night would probably need a few thousand words more to describe and as this is a blog and not a short story, I'll spare the details. In brief, they involve Roky Erickson, Okkervil River, a french Parisian noise band called Cheveu, Wooden Shjips, a dozen Shiners, the rest of the Devin the Dude supply and enough fungus to top half of a small Domino's pizza. It was the last night in Austin and everyone was out, tired but propped up on I'll Sleep On the Plane-adrenaline, the music tourists mixing in with Austin frat kids and the weird flotsam and jetsam out on a Saturday.
The 2000s Are Almost Over, Right?
Somehow, I found myself completely wrecked but surprisingly coherent at 1:15 a.m. using my finest negotiation tactics to try to get into see White Denim, who judging from what I could hear, are a much better band than they are a textile. Repeatedly explaining to the bouncer who I was (Pacey's youngest brother on Season 5 of Dawson's Creek), she seemed unimpressed and I wound up in the worst situation possible: drunk with nowhere to go. Luckily, thanks to several text messages and my infinite network of spies, I discovered that there was a Perez Hilton after-party going down where N.E.R.D. was supposedly playing. Though still-recognizing the inherent evil of Perez Hilton, somehow the liquor swayed me to the theory that attractive girls would undoubtedly be at his party. After all, girls that read that shit, right? Wrong.
The place was 85 percent dudes and when N.E.R.D. and their phony rap-rock machismo came on-stage, the level of homo-eroticism spiked somewhere between the writing staff of Desperate Housewives and a Lil Wayne and Birdman Photo Shoot. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but I figured that it was my cue to step outside. Several drinks later, I discovered myself outside, delivering an extemporaneous tangent about the merits of Ghostbusters. Suddenly, the person I was talking to pointed.
"Look, there's Perez Hilton."
"You mean Zuul"
"No, Perez Hilton."
"You know he just got a label deal," the girl told me and smiled.
"I also hear he has celebrity juice not made from concentrate," I dead-panned.
She bobbed her head. Suddenly, I felt very sober and realized where the hell I was and understood that it was time to go home.