Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Positively Charged

It's interesting what you pick up on when you have plans of writing. My mind seeks out the obscure and spins it around to somehow connect it with the important. But maybe it is these small, everyday things that we see, or the thousands that we don't, that are what's important. Maybe they are what make our days interesting and wonderful but we rarely take the time to look. Maybe it's good to give your mind a chance to seek out the tiny wonders; to give your imagination a shot at adding storylines and colors. And just maybe they're what I need to spot to motivate myself to document moments in my life so later down the road I can look back and smile. So instead of pulling out timelines and events to explain my SXSW, I will give it a whirl with my memories, no matter how trivial they may seem.

The Good:

1. The year of the maraca. Day one: maracas are everywhere. I saw six bands this day, and four of them used the same yellow butternutsquash-esque maraca. What is going on here? Now, I admit, this could possibly (just possibly mind you!) be that I am drawn to bands that use maracas. In that case, I have just learned something about my, well, excellent taste. But still, the same one?! Trust me, there is a maraca conspiracy at hand... and I'm loving it like macaroni loves vegan cheese.

2. Friends. This week I was surrounded by people. We had nine extras in our house and throughout the streets there were thousands. My experience was what it was due to a few in particular. Hanging out with one of my life-long besties, Allie, and her friend Larissa, was great. I'm so glad that they got a chance to experience South By and their enthusiasm was definitely contagious. Fran, our manager friend from London, was a necessary part to the group as well. He gives us the scoop for many a show and adds a hilariously cynical element while sipping on a margarita. And as hard and frustrating as it can be to connect with people via text during those busy days, I was psyched to see three of my favorite B'more transplants (Emily, Sophie, and Dianna) out and about as well. All in all, great people in a great place!

3. Peyton. Overall, I just plain enjoyed being around him. But there are a few specific memories that come to mind that make me grin. Such as when he would hold my pink puma bag because it was simply too heavy for my delicate shoulders. Or when he would stay with me to see a show of my choosing even though his was going on simultaneously. Or how he would order my bloody marys (ies?) sans worstershire sauce because it has anchovies, even though I really wouldn't have known either way. But the best memory is the following conversation had at a show by Foster the People, a male pop/rock group:

Peyton (while holding the pink bag): You know who the bassist looks like?
Me (enjoying being told to take a good, long look at the bass strumming man): Who?
Peyton: Big.
Me: (No response... Just stares semi-blankly at P.)
Peyton: Come on, you know, from Sex and the City. Just like him. (He then took a sip of his drink with his pinky up just a bit... No joke.)

... So maybe this is a "had to be there" type convo, or maybe I've just scared more men into thinking that putting on their super macho show is definitely the way to go, but hearing Peyton so nonchalantly bring up a male Sex and the City character in conversation was just plain heartwarming.

His is the guy in blue.

4. The music. If this wasn't listed on everyone's "best ofs" then SXSW wouldn't be the hugely successful festival that it's become. There is just so much! You know you listened, clapped, and maybe boogied a bit, but the 20+ hours of songs all begins to run together. In the end these are the five six seven bands that are stuck in my mind.

- Matt Nathanson-- This pop rocker never fails to disappoint. Maybe he's my guilty pleasure, but he's good, and I even enjoyed his new stuff more than his old. Got my fix by seeing him twice. Listen here!

- Foster the People-- Their song "Pumped Up Kicks" got us to the show, and even though it wasn't representative of their other stuff, I liked it a lot. They are Maroon 5-esque with just enough rock to add some edginess.

- Still Corners-- The band we hosted was lovely, and were good musicians to boot. Labeled as "dream pop," they like to give a London in the 60s feel. The scene was set by turning off all the lights in the outside venue and just singing to the glow of their projector running interesting images. Their mellowness even melted into a highly enjoyable jam session. More on them here.

- French Horn Rebellion-- Our friend Fran found this band and has something good on his hands. They are a DJ/electro/dance duo who had me from the moment they requested the audience to dance like their favorite animal. While I did the elephant followed by a ferocious alligator, Peyton whipped out his best chicken. I would have loved to snap a pic, but the venue was a dark high-ceilinged cave like place nestled in next to a rock face. Very cool scene, and very fun band. Boogy break! (We also found out on Sunday that the curly haired one, David, has a potential career in bowling. We call him the Bulldozing Bullet.)

- The Airborne Toxic Event-- Maybe it's a desire to break from my happiness for a bit that gets me loving their darker, heart wrenching songs about love lost and life. Somehow, they just speak to my soul. They are rock and roll with a dramatic edge, this time including a string quartet to up the ante. We are seeing them in May for the fourth time and I am even more psyched. Here is their most popular and here is my favorite.

- The Head and The Heart-- If I could recommend only one band this would be it. We stumbled across them first thing on Wednesday at noon, and I made sure to see them every chance I could after that (three times total.) They are what Airborne isn't, inspirational, folky, and upbeat, but they also have a lot in common. They both have one female member who plays the violin, loads of energy and intensity, slow starts with dramatic buildups, and great storytelling abilities. Simply put, they stole my heart. Love love love. (Just found this video too from the noon show that took my heart. What makes it better? The maraca makes its appearance!! Plus I'm there... That's pretty cool too.)

- Yoko Ono-- How could seeing the granny-age, huge-part-of-the-Beatles-breakup girate her hips, style it up with a tophat, sunglasses (clearly she got Corey Heart's memo), and midway wardrobe change, all while making strange noises into the mic be anything but priceless? What a perfect way to end an unforgettable festival. You can get an idea here, even though there was a band with her at South By who was actually quite talented. Peyton pointed out that she is possibly the only singer who has ever had her mic volume lower than the instruments. We also would love to see her in a sing-off with Wing. Or maybe even a duet?

5. Walking. I love movement. I especially love movement with a purpose. And I really, really like walking with a purpose through a city. So our transportation of choice was highly enjoyable to me. I love walking the miles and miles exploring Austin. I enjoy the people, the smells (both good and bad), the posters, the energy. I do not enjoy the bruised heels, but they come with the territory of wearing flats whilst traversing city streets. Every year I look forward to making my way through this town on foot, and every year I find something new and interesting that I love.

This year's find: mustache see-saw complete with glasses.

6. Being alone in a crowd. One of the things on my life list is to see a movie alone. Sounds easy, I know, but I am a person who will stay home if going out means going solo. Being out and about means talking, socializing, interacting. That's why it surprises me just how much I love the solitary feeling I get at South By. Walking through the crowded streets, I feel encapsulated in my mind and my body. I am not hiding from the mania; it's the living and and breathing and enjoying that moment that makes me see myself as an individual in a spectacular world full of people. I am my own being who is wholly different and wholly the same as everyone else out there. The crowds create a calm stillness in my mind and soul that hugs me close. When I get to the silence of a parking garage, the lack of noise is almost deafening, but it then becomes a tight blanket around my thoughts in which I can truly appreciate all of my blessings.

And Now... The Bad:

1. Charging phone batteries. All. The. Time. I've become a pro at spotting outlets in hidden corners and shadowed ceilings. When wanting to disconnect from technology and needing to communicate through texts to make plans, this requirement was doubly annoying.

2. ..... 

... At a loss for the second, so for now, that's it. Bodes well when the goods far out weigh the bads. Or maybe it's that that bad was just so over poweringly annoying that I can't think of any others. Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure that in the long run only the goods will remain.  What can I say... they hold the most charge!

So all in all- live positively, don't be afraid to walk alone sometimes, and whenever possible, dance like a chicken. 



  1. Hello! Your mom clued me into this blogging thing you're up to and I say good thing too because before you started blogging. you had way too much free time (HA!) Love your ambitious and "can do" spirit--- always have!! Posts are great! As for SXSW, it sounds a little like as extended Artscape, which as you know is one of my all-time favorite things about Baltimore in the summer. Go nuts and have fun, you guys!!

  2. Thanks Cheryl! It is somewhat like Artscape, but just much more focused on the music... There is a free concert stage in a big open field with art stands and such that is a lot more Artscapey, but the city part is all in bars and restaurants. You would really, really enjoy it though! (Something for your life list maybe? :))

  3. meow... <3 love you-- very well put. Had an amazing time- you guys are the best.. I think I'm still on a music high

  4. It's definitely on the list, Christina! I want that music high... :)


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