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Girl Germs Messes with Texas: Day 3

March 24, 2011

Gather round, germs. We’re at the end of Dana’s epic SXSW story! Saturday’s pace was a little more manageable than Thursday and Friday. I got to sleep in a little, then went over to have breakfast and coffee with Portland-based musician Shelley Short, who is one of our favorites on Girl Germs.

Short, who arrived to Austin on Thursday, just wrapped up her second Australian tour. “I love [touring in Australia],” she said. “It’s so fun. You never would [see it] otherwise.” She also mentioned that people in Australia had asked her if she’d seen Portlandia. Hilarious!

2011 marks Short’s third time at SXSW, and she said she thinks she’s finally struck the right balance of how long to stay in town. “You have to be in the right mode,” she explained. “I [get it] this year.”

Short was heading to Nashville after SXSW to start a tour through the South and East Coast before cutting across the northern part of the country (including Minneapolis, April 10 at the Triple Rock) on her way back home to Portland, where she nannies when she’s not working on music. She says she’s finished with a new record and it will be released this year (her last one, A Cave, A Canoo, was released in 2009).

After meeting with Shelley Short, it was off to the University of Texas area for some record and novelty-candy shopping (and to grab a kombucha at the lovely Wheatsville Co-op).










I spent the afternoon with dude bands, hanging out at Spider House for a while watching A Place to Bury Strangers then meeting up with Minneapolis band Pictures of Then at Mess with Texas Fest. I caught a tiny bit of Thee Ohsees’ set at Mess with Texas–but not nearly as much as I would have liked. Then I went to Ruby’s  for some BBQ with the Radio K kids…










These three had never been to Ruby’s and I was more than happy to introduce them to pit-smoked turkey, sausage and ribs. And, oh yes, bottomless Dr. Pepper (a common occurrence in Texas).

Normally the last night of SXSW is a cram session, full of last-minute attempts to see any bands you’ve missed and plenty of “oh, shit” realizations that you can’t physically be in as many places as you want. After a long day of sun and BBQ, I decided to take it relatively easy. The Radio K staff headed off to see Kurt Vile at Auditorium Shores, while I went downtown to catch Prince Rama and a couple other bands at the Mohawk. I WISH I had pictures of Prince Rama’s performance to show you (it was beautiful!).

I snuck away long enough to see—and nervously stand next to for at least five minutes—the one and only Exene Cervenka, alt-country singer/guitarist and frontwoman of influential punk band X at the Bloodshot Records showcase. I debated talking to her for a few minutes, but couldn’t get up the nerve. Then some middle-aged dude in a ponytail (there were several at that show, by the way) intercepted me right as I thought I might make my move. I watched Danish alt-country pedal steel player Maggie Bjorklund, who was joined by Rachel Flotard of Visqueen on vocals, give an amazing performance. I’ll definitely have to pick up her new album so we can play it for you. Bjorklund also performed with Cervenka, who seemed…how should I say this? A little crabby? It’s understandable given the circumstances (short set lenghts, crowded venues, lots of standing around) and–let’s be honest–it’s Exene Cervenka. She can do what she wants. Cervenka seemed to relax a little after the first couple songs, and I was just enamored to be in the same vicinity as one of my music heroes.










Then it was back to the Mohawk for a performance I’d been looking forward to for weeks: Bay Area garage-rocker Ty Segall. I didn’t think there would be anything Girl Germs-y about Segall’s set, but lo and behold! He plays with a female drummer and guitarist. Quebecois radio host Alexandre Courteau, of the Bande a Part satellite radio channel and CBC Radio 3, was standing right next to me (being the broadcasting nerd I am, I can’t believe I didn’t realize it was him until later–d’oh!)

While we were chatting in anticipation of Segall, Courteau and I were both shocked to see ladies come out on to the stage. “They changed it–Elastica’s actually playing,” he said. My heart almost skipped a beat before I realized he was making a joke. A cruel, cruel joke. Our enjoyment of Segall’s frenetic, garage-y performance was interrupted by seeing someone almost leap to their death stage diving off of the Mohawk’s upper patio, which was pretty frightening. Kids these days!

Speaking of cruel, cruel jokes, how’s this one: after several years of attending SXSW, a girl finally scores a press badge the same year Yoko Ono is speaking and performing. It seems the stars are aligning. She subsequently misses not one, but BOTH, Yoko events during the festival, leaving her dream of being in the same room as the godmother of so many modern groundbreaking artists unfulfilled.

It seriously happened again, you guys. I left the Mohawk after Ty Segall’s set with an address in hand and plenty of time to spare, ready to make my way to Elysium on Red River, just down the street from where I was and next door to where I’d seen Exene Cervenka. I desperately combed all of Red River twice and could not find the venue. I can’t explain it. It was just not there. I stopped to ask a couple passers-by if they knew where it was, but all I got were a bunch of 1 o’clock-on-a-Saturday night “WHOOOOOOOO“s, which were less than helpful. After about 20 minutes of searching, knowing that I was missing what was probably a mind-blowing performance, I hauled my defeated self back to the Mohawk, much like this:

and watched Quintron and Miss Pussycat. Although my heart wasn’t really in it (sorry, puppets aren’t exactly mind-blowing). And that, my friends, is the story of how Dana went all the way to Texas to see Yoko Ono, and didn’t see Yoko Ono. I saw so many other amazing artists that it somewhat made up for it, but…OK, let’s not talk about it anymore.

We’ll have more recaps, as well as audio interview clips, from SXSW on the April 8 episode of the Girl Germs netcast!

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