Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blender Bar at the Ritz (18-3-06)

After four days of day parties and night shows and little sleep and a lot of beer, the Blender Bar at the Ritz was ready to host my little party of four (and at least for the first couple of acts, not many more). This was the showcase I came to SXSW for (not exclusively), and anyone who loves the jaaaangly guitar tones that can only be produced by a Rickenbacker and vocal harmonies akin to those on the Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone” understands why I had to be there.


  1. The lineup: The High Dials, The Morning After Girls, The Jessica Fletchers, The Winnerys, The Contrast
  2. The second bar RIGHT NEXT TO THE STAGE: don’t worry about losing that primo spot because $2 margaritas are literally 8 feet away
  3. $2 margaritas!
  4. The girl at the side bar mixed the aforementioned $2 margaritas much differently than the dude at the main bar, who threw some tequila and margarita mix into a child-sized plastic cup. This gal gave us the big plastic cups, exhausted nearly a third of the bottle of 1800 Gold between them, added triple sec and then squeezed the limes into the cups. And all for $2!
  5. One of my partners in crime (unintentionally) tripped over a lighting structure and skewed the projected advertisements on the far wall of the venue. It’s still funny.
  6. Tammy Ealom from Dressy Bessy was there to see the Jessica Fletchers and took a picture with us
  7. The two people behind the merch counter looked exactly like representatives of Rainbow Quartz should. They were wearing the most psychedelic garments I have ever seen (think Anton Newcombe, not dirty hippie)


  1. The Blender Bar at the Ritz is a giant open room with terrible acoustics. The lights were too bright and on for too long.
  2. The Contrast were kind of boring
  3. The cavernous room was mostly empty through the first two bands, though the Jessica Fletchers did draw a decent crowd. I’m the top “The Jessica Fletchers” fan on bitches!
  4. This could be filed under Con #1, but it deserves its own mention: The Blender Bar is named after Blender magazine, and giant light projected logos on the walls for Blender, Le Tigre, and Guess were not cool (see Pro #5 for how we stuck it to The Man)
  5. Half the crowd left during the High Dials’ set
  6. I missed the Magic Marker Showcase with Tullycraft, the Bats, and the Owls (though fuck it was worth it)

Alright, so how did the show go? The Morning After Girls sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who they’ve been opening for on the current US tour. The Winnerys were cool, as nearly any band with a Rickenbacker is, and their sound evoked fellow countrymen the Zinedines, which is never a bad thing.

As for the Jessica Fletchers, they tore the roof off the fuckin’ joint, though I was disappointed that they didn’t have the girl who does vocals on “Summer Holiday and Me” and “Less Sophistication.” Either way, their peppy Rickenbacker riffs and sweet sweet Hammond/Farfisa/etc organ tones flew through the air in a swirly multicolored psychedelic haze that someone who had more than the few $2 margs I did would have actually seen. Whatever. Fuck it.

The High Dials may have put on THE show of SXSW. When I say “THE show” I should be clear that the Morrisseys and the Flaming Lips and the Belle and Sebastians and the Echo and the Bunnymens of the festival are not considered, for more reasons than the simple fact that I didn’t see any of those bands. Anyway you can see the league we’re talking about is totally different, and while High Dials’ are not mentioned in the same company as the titans who played the big venues, they fucking should be. Why were they so good? First of all during soundcheck they pulled out a fucking sitar. That already makes them cooler than most bands because I’ve never seen a sitar played live. As the icing on the cake, as the song ended one of the guys from the Morning After Girls came out to the mic and bellowed “do you guys want to hear one more!?” to which he got the greatest cheer the half-full room could muster and slowly the rest of the High Dials (and the Morning After Girls!) came back on stage to thrill our likely damaged ears with a 20 minute psychedelic jam that was more cohesive, intense, and most importantly, more non-masturbatory than any live jam I’ve ever witnessed. And that fucking sitar!


After twenty-one years of life a few things have been made clear. Love sucks (and I'm serious), music is the ultimate good, and free alcohol is always nice.

For spring break 2006 I attended SXSW in Austin. I saw 57 bands and drank cheap (if not free) beer often. I enjoyed myself. All the while, my ex-girlfriend of five years was getting married somewhere (a rushed ordeal that won't last but that's not as comforting of a thought as it seems). Please, reader, note that I didn't go to SXSW for a diversion, I knew what was coming, I knew SXSW could help but I went because I wanted to go. Note also that I still love this girl (this could probably be inferred from the article). Anyway, I had such a good time at this shit that I never even thought about what was going on in Houston (my hometown/location of said girl's marriage) (too many parentheses). Let me tell you, thats a strong testament to the ass kickery (fucking lame!) of SXSW. OK, maybe the thought struck me once which probably resulted in a detectable shift in my demeanor, but that's only natural.

So what needs to be communicated here is life. And by life, I mean the good shit. Life is pretty good shit (the quasi oxymoron is intended). Life's essence exists in near- tangible form at SXSW. You can hear it floating around. It is fun. You can spend your time wandering around looking for free shit to hock for crack or whatever, (my friend did this- it's fucking idiotic), or you can do just the opposite of that. You can put the experience first and let the free shit come to you. Watch as many bands as possible. Life is about experience. You're going to die, pal. I'm sorry to tell you that because it kind of sucks, but it's true. You're going to die with only your experiences and your memories, not with that free t-shirt. I banked many experiences this week (and a few free shirts as well, incidentally). Plus...I got drunk!

Ultimately SXSW ellicited some very different feeling in me. It's a much better feeling than the one that it replaced. Liberation replaced sadness. I'm fucking liberated, bro, and I can't quite explain it. All I know is that good, genuine fun is to be had out there. The world's a motherfucker but it spins off these really nice bits sometimes. Life is good shit.

Also, I have a new girlfriend as of yesterday (hey Jessica). I'm gonna' have sex with her once for SXSW. So, yeah, I'm feeling groovy.

So, we have this new website called "charz2k". I don't really know why it's called that either. I just write for it. I guess we're going to tell you our opinions on culture and music and stuff. Art is so personal though. I've always been of the opinion that music criticism is absurd. It's impossible to communicate something so personal as music and feelings that stem from it. So, look, don't take me too seriously. I do have impeccable taste in music and if I like it, it must be good. I usually only listen to good music. Although sometimes I like bad music. I'm an idiot, ask my friends. I'm only doing this for the money.

After a long, long, long hiatus

charz2k is back, albeit in a slightly deficient form. I don't know how to make webpages, and since I'm not in a mood to learn (and haven't been for the past 7 months or so), the resurrection has to be on a free and easy-to-use blogspace. There should be new and exciting articles appearing here soon (maybe even today!) for you to wasted your hard-earned brain cells on if alcohol hasn't taken care of that problem already.
articles soon?