Here in Austin at the South By Southwest Music Festival, the days are taking their toll: Each night lasts a little longer than the one before and each "morning" comes a little bit later. My body is breaking down and apparently I'm not alone: After appearing in fine form last night at the Six Degrees of Memphis showcase, Snowglobe singer Brad Postlethwaite cancelled a (late) breakfast meet-up citing a lost voice and other physical ills. One Memphian who did show up reported rampant sniffling, congestion, and overall fatigue among her cohorts.
But, if it's been an exhausting week for the rather large Memphis contingent here in Austin, it's been a productive one. This year marks the largest influx of Memphis acts in the fest's history and yesterday was the most Memphis-centric day yet, so much so that we were forced to miss a lot of local action when multiple events conflicted.
After missing his official showcase the night before, we caught up with prolific Memphis garage-rock stalwart Jay Reatard at a day show at Emo's. Reatard has been perhaps the busiest and most attention-getting Memphis act in town this week and delivered a quick and ferocious set. Shouting out the name of the next song to his bandmates near the end of each preceding song, it was a silence-free set. At the end of last song, Reatard set his guitar down and fled the stage while feedback was still ringing.
That night, we made it out to the western edge of the SXSW map for the Six Degrees of Memphis showcase at Opal Divine's. Knowing how far from the main action Opal's was, I was worried that the location would turn the event into essentially a private party for visiting Memphians, but by the time the Bo-Keys took the stage halfway through the night, the large tent was pretty much full. The event did have the character of a Memphis-oriented party, with a wide array of locals and ex-pats mingling together. But there was also a very healthy contingent of non-connected fans.
During Snowglobe's terrific set, I spotted a man I didn't recognize taking notes and asked him for whom he was covering the set. The answer, apparently, was himself. He was Wolfgang Schoen, a German music fan on a month-long American music vacation with friends. I asked him what had brought him to the Memphis showcase. "The lineup, of course," he said. He'd happened upon Amy LaVere at a day party at Jovita's the day before and fell in love. He wanted to see her again and saw she was playing the same showcase with the North Mississippi Allstars ("I never miss a chance to see the Allstars," he said) and came out. There, he was very impressed Snowglobe. Later that night, the Bo-Keys had the crowd at a fever pitch with a blast of classic Memphis soul and the night might have climaxed when Luther Dickinson joined Amy LaVere on stage to end her set (just prior to his own band, the Allstars, closing out the night). So, it was a great night of and for Memphis music. Kudos to organizers, including blogger Rachel Hurley, Third Man guitarist Jeff Schmidtke, and Memphis Music Foundation honcho Dean Deyo for throwing such a great party. With the locally based Beale Street Caravan recording it all, Memphians -- and listeners around the world -- will have a chance to hear it sometime soon.
In a day filled with Memphis music, we did manage to work our way in the Spin day party to catch the festival's hottest ticket, New York indie rockers Vampire Weekend. Look for more on Vampire Weekend (and everything else) in next week's Flyer.
Tonight, for the final night of the festival, we plan on catching local hip-hop sensations Lord T. & Eloise and hope to track down Lucero, who seem to have something big brewing in Austin this week. Tomorrow is a day of travel, so look for a final round-up of tonight's events and everything else in next week's print edition of the Flyer.