the BBC to the W
three of a three-part series)
After the harrowing
traffic on St. Patrick's Day (aka the Irish Cinco de Mayo), I was
dreading Friday’s traffic, especially since Bombay Bicycle Club played
two gigs that day, one in the afternoon, the other late at night.
gig made no sense and seemed below them—a pizza joint in East Austin
called Red House. But when I got there, I changed my mind about the
place. Many shade trees surrounded a nice old house they converted to a
pizzeria, and there was plenty of parking. I was able to plant my truck
within twenty feet of the load-in zone. Score.
played on the patio, and a utility room served as backstage, so there
was plenty of space for equipment both on- and offstage, a nice change
from the crowded conditions at most SXSW clubs.
everybody arrived late, so I moved the equipment on my own. About an
hour later, tour manager Steve showed up.
all moved in," I said. "I got here at 3:30, so it looks like I'm the
only one who was on time."
one way of looking at it," Steve said. "If you consider getting here 90
minutes early on time."
perhaps I was a tad too diligent. It happens. About once every twenty
years, but it happens. I went back stage to get the gear organized when
Louis—my immediate supervisor as well as keyboardist in the
band—tracked me down.
"I think I
have a bit of an upgrade for you," he said, pointing at my purple
sunglasses, freebies from a soft-drink giveaway promotion. "Try these
He gave me
a nice pair of Burberry sunglasses he had cadged at some event. The
glasses looked good, although coupled with my black cowboy hat it gave
me a dude ranch look. Oh, well. I am the dude, after all.
minutes later, bass player Ed Nash sauntered in with a proud souvenir
of the day's activities, a target from a pistol range. Ed, Louis and
Steve love to shoot guns. I guess they don't have ready access to guns
in England, and you certainly can't hunt for Homo sapiens as you can in
Texas (yes, it's a Dick Cheney joke).
went well, although leader Jack Steadman decided to open with an
acoustic number instead of the usual opener “Magnet,” one of my
favorites. But by the time they hit "Dust On The Ground," they were in
a groove and had the audience eating from their pasty white UK hands.
Albeit, some of those hands were covered in gunshot residue.
really is a damn good band, but don't take my word for it. Just point
your browser to http://www.bombaybicycleclubmusic.com/ and listen for
yourself. I'll wait for you to come back. Moving on.]
relative calm of the Red House gig, it was back to the crushing maw of
downtown traffic and a late night gig at Latitude 30. All went well and
I was able to hear "Magnet" once again. Oddly, Friday night’s traffic
was a piece of cake, thanks to a great parking spot and the absence of
the Irish revelers.
and hostility is the residue of Irish revelers.
took the gear home, Steve pulled me aside. "Do you think you can take
the gear to the airport on Sunday as well?" he asked.
planned to be finished with everything Saturday night, so this was a
slightly annoying pinprick of an assignment. "Maybe," I said. "What
time would I need to be there?"
meet us at the Continental baggage check-in at 11 a.m.," Steve said.
Yeah, a pinprick right in the eyes. I had to be somewhere at 11 a.m.?
Do these people not understand how much I drink on Saturday nights?
course, there will be more money involved," he said.
in,” I said. Priorities, you know.
gig took place Saturday afternoon at the Hotel San Jose, another great
venue, although it was located in the SoCo (South Congress) district
and traffic was a bitch. I managed to find parking at a school for the
deaf after the load in—it's not as if they give a flying fuck about a
went well, but about two songs into the set Jack Steadman's tremolo bar
fell off his Strat. Shit. Steve told me later that the bar was always
loose, but it was still the first guitar screw up of any gig and I was
not happy about it. Nothing much I could do, though, so when the
opportunity presented itself Jack bent down, picked it up and screwed
it back in.
gig, I asked Steve what the plans were for the night. Maybe we could
meet up for a drink. "I've got passes to the Perez Hilton party," he
said. "Give us a call around 8 or so and we'll meet downtown."
Passes to the party of the most notorious gay guy in the world, Perez
Hilton. I'm down with that (insert oral sex joke here).
advice of a friend, I decided to meet the boys at the W Hotel, which
was located next to the Hilton party venue, which happened to be the
new building for the nationally televised public TV show Austin City
some doing, but I finally connected with everybody at the corner of
Third & Lavaca. From there, we went to the W hotel bar, where only
one of us fit in.
kind of expecting you to take us to something a little more divey,"
Steve said. Makes sense. When you're perceived as a combination of
Bukowski and Lebowski, you don't expect to be taken to an upscale bar.
But it was conveniently located next to the Hilton venue, after all.
Still, I pretty much blew the steer on that opportunity—should have
taken them to the Lucky Lounge.
manager Jason fit right in and ordered a drink so gay it came with an
umbrella and a foldout futon. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
point, I drank too much and blurted out my age. "I'm 57. Did you hear
me? 57. Fifty-fucking-seven."
looked at me horrified. "You must never, ever joke around that way
again. Ever." At least I think that's what he said.
nobody liked the W very much, we seemed to like the drinks just fine—I
don’t think anybody made it to the damn Hilton party.
morning sucked tremendously. I got halfway down the block when I
realized I had forgotten to bring my black cowboy hat. How would they
know it was me if I didn't wear it?
up to Continental baggage claim at the Austin-Bergstrom airport and
mustered all the energy I could to be upbeat, when all I really wanted
to do was pull out an AK-47 and start shooting randomly and
senselessly. As bad as I felt, I took one look at lead guitarist Jamie
MacColl and knew I was not the most hungover guy at the airport.
laid!" someone blurted out, probably Ed. Everybody else had significant
others at home, so they were on their best behavior, but Suren was a
free agent. Either that or he was playing around on his girlfriend and
has just been busted, thanks to me.
a picture," Louis said and Ed snapped a picture of me leaning against
the truck, resplendent in my cowboy boots and matching black hat. I'm
sure it's on Facebook somewhere with the caption, "The Dude!"
As long as
it doesn't say, "And he's fifty-fucking-seven,” I'm good to go.
This column aims to be funny. If you can read anything else into it,
you're on your own.
is a writer and musician living in Austin, Texas.
from the San Francisco Bay Area, he claims strong ties to Seattle, St.
Petersburg, Florida and North Platte, Nebraska.