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[sxsw2012] Arriving in Austin at 5am in a prison bus + early Day 1 buzz observations

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Well, we made it. Barely.

Roughly 60 hours, more than 2,000 miles and, remarkably, zero fatalities later, THE NEW HIGHWAY HYMNAL, BEARSTRONAUT, filmmaker Sam Greenfield, and myself crashed into Austin around 5am this moring. Thanks to a hookup by the Phoenix’s Chris Fara1, we were able to park Brucie our Vanya Records prison bus in a lot not far from the Fader Fort By Converse. Whew.

Stay up to date with the Phoenix @ Austin via our SXSWTF tumblr

As every rest stop cashier, fast food employee, Denny's waitress, or Wal-Mart greeter would say on our redonkulous trip south, “Y’all far from home.” Even the woman behind the counter of the Taco Bell in New Boston, Texas, didn’t see the humor in us being from “Old Boston.”

Anyway, Mapquest told us the trip should have taken about 32 hours, but Brucie’s diesel engine, a purring roar machine born a 1986 Bluebird Western Pennsylvania prison transport with more than 1.2 million miles under her wing before it was purchased by Greenfield’s friend, needed constant refills along the way. And oh yeah – it could only top out at 57 miles per hour on the highway. So this was a journey stretched out with many added hours to kill.

And kill hours we did, from knife purchases in Tennessee to breakdowns in Virginia (Brucie has no gas gauge, so we have to calculate gas/miles by hand and GPS, and well, we fucked up in Virginia; and when a diesel engine runs out of gas, you can’t just fill it back up, you need do do many surgery to the engine). Other highlights included a dual-band jam session in the mountains that saw Hymnal and Bearz collab on Velvet Underground, Dylan, and Credence covers; attempting to take out fellow Masshole band HERRA TERRA with roman candles on a highway in Arkansas; near-overdoses on Ativan and booze in Texas; self-stabbings attempting tricks with said purchased knifes (#SXSWEAPONS); getting pissed on Alcatraz Sour Apple flavored Johnny Bootleggers for $2 a bottle; and tens of dollars won and lost in dice games of C-low on the bus floor (I have created no less than eight gambling addictions since the weekend). As soon as we hit Texas, we graffiti’d up Brucie with a Vanya Records, Hymnal and Bearstronaut logos and SXSW hashtags. Hey, it was a long, mindbending trip.

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But now that we’re in Austin, the bands have run off to prep for theior parties, and I’ve hit the Convention Center to get my badge and scope out my old friend, the city. Some immediate SXSW thoughts midway through Day 1 as I chill with Liz Pelly at Progress coffee shop near the Fort, awaiting a much-needed 3pm check-in at the Holiday Inn Town Lakes so I can change out of these clothes I’ve been in since Saturday morning:

 

There’s a big buzz push for SANTIGOLD, who seems primed for a huge Summer 2k12. Guess she’s back with a vengeance. Also everyone here wants to see GRIMES. Seems to be A#1 on everyone's must-see lists.

I should have named PENGUIN PRISON on my 12 Acts Who Will Be More Popular After SXSW list. I interviewed Chris Glover last March in Austin, but didn’t get to see him play because some shitbag stole his bass right before his showcase, but after drilling “Don’t Fuck With My Money” in my dome the week before this trip, I’m feeling PP pretty hard.

Other bands I can’t wait to see are Michigan's STEPDAD (who we hyped in our most recent 50 Bands 50 States), Los Angeles’ CHAIN GANG OF 1974, and… well, whatever’s going down at the Fader Fort By Converse. Lotta unrecognizable acts on their four-day schedule at first glance, but that just adds to the fun.

I can barely contain my excitement for the JESUS & MARY CHAIN show at midnight Wednesday... or is it midnight Thursday? Shit.  

Totally forgot that FIONA APPLE is playing a Pitchfork showcase on Thursday at 6pm, and that's a direct result of her playing at Royale in Boston later this month. 

Pelly’s rumor that LANA DEL REY will be appearing as the Fort’s “secret guest” was clearly made up by her during late-night Quilt hallucinations.

More to come, this shit is just getting started... and if you're in town, hook up with Vanya at the Vanya parties below.

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