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Friday brought both the lamest and the coolest experiences of the conference. I was anticipating Sub Pop's afternoon party to be one of the major brouhahas of the conference. Wrong. Those in attendance at the placid U-district cafe got nifty key chains and a performance from the Pernice Brothers, three guys with a serious Elliott Smith envy complex. Not a free beer to be had, but at least it was happy hour. Sub Pop was a lot more fun when grunge still sold.
Arizona locals Jimmy Eat World more than recompensed for Sub Pop's weak throwdown Friday night. As well as playing an awesome set that attracted none less than Janeane Garofalo, the mischievous bastards proved themselves to be the coolest musicians playing the conference. Upon being given their mandatory two free-drink coupons per person, the boys headed for the nearest Kinko's and turned eight free drinks into 130 free drinks, which they were more than generous with (the only band that can actually use 130 free drinks in one night would be the aforementioned Beat Angels).
Later that night, the Promise Ring took the stage and tore the crowd a new earhole with its precocious pop songs. Despite a recent tour accident that left two members hospitalized, the Ring is back on the road and sounds better than ever. Too bad the band's skipping the West Coast on this tour, but they say that kids just don't come to the shows out west, so it's your own damn fault.
Saturday brought more of the same bacchanalian madness, but I'll no longer bore you with stories of marathon intoxication. The only awe-inspiring act I witnessed on Saturday was Kansas City's Get Up Kids. They call those kids an "emo" band, but fuck all that. The Get Up Kids rock like few emo bands know how, straightforward and unpretentious.
The bands pretty much stop there. Only four venues hosted shows on Sunday, but SXSW wasn't quite over. Sunday is the big softball game where different factions of the industry battle each other on the field for the much coveted Montana Cup (named after the deceased "Country Dick" Montana).
It's a harrowing decision, whether to spend the day in bed recovering or go play ball with the heavy hitters. Yours truly batted .280 and won the Cup for the Print Media team--and then I woke up from my dream with a blissful smile, content to stay far away from the industry assholes swinging their sticks around. Maybe next year.
Contact Brendan Kelley at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org