The Gnome detests flying, so I done burrowed all the way down to Austin for South by Southwest only to resurface in the middle of a damned tattoo and leather conference. At least that's what it seemed like, until I realized that the gnarly, Shiner Bock-swilling crowd was actually attending Sub Pop's gargantuan SXSW showcase at the sprawling punk palace Emo's. Aside from Beachwood Sparks and Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse—who played solo as Ugly Casanova and was by most accounts sucky—the lineup stayed close to the garage (or the heavy metal parking lot), with the likes of Murder City Devils, Zen Guerrilla, and Gluecifer fuckin' shit up. Actually, the Sub Pop night capped a very Seattle-like day in Austin, during which a burst of cold, wet weather accompanied daytime schmooze parties held by Experience Music Project, Real Networks, and Seattle Weekly's parent, the Village Voice Media Company (at least I think that's what the big bosses are calling it these days). Best of the three? It's a toss-up if you ask the Gnome. One of the highlights of the whole dang festival had to be when food-deprived Sub Pop publicist Chris Jacobs scurried into the Real party and over to the carving station, where he instructed the "chef" to fill up three sandwiches with turkey. He raved about the sweet bird, but little did he know that he'd been scarfin' down swine. That's right: It was ham! At any rate, EMP's shindig featured a masterfully moody set from Modest Mouse, who varied old material with selections from its seriously great forthcoming Epic debut, The Moon & Antarctica (it's due out in June). In the midst of these parties, Saltine eschewed their hometown roots and entertained the BBQ-munching masses at a fete sponsored by the Bay Area's Listen.com. Another highlight of the underwhelming SXSW came when Green Pajamas thrilled a small audience with its fuzzed-out pop, scaring up their nugget "Kim the Waitress" and reminding a trend-seeking crowd that these folks
pre-dated the whole Elephant 6 cabal by a decade.
Other news from Austin: Elliott Smith debuted his new touring band, which includes Sam Coomes of Quasi on bass and an unfamiliar keyboardist and drummer. Word of a mini Belle & Sebastian tour leaked, and Seattle and Olympia will likely be on the schedule. The Jungle Brothers' set ended with a rousing version of their awesome new single "V.I.P."; call KUBE and request it!
The Gnome returned home to rumors about Capitol Hill's arcade and punk-rock hangout the Hi*Score. Co-owner Beth Fell says the landmark isn't shutting down, just being forced to relocate, and that new spaces are under consideration. "We're not gonna close down before we move to another space," she insists. In the meantime, pinball and video games await the touch of your grubby fingers at the soon-to-be old location. You betcha!
You can reach the Metro Gnome at firstname.lastname@example.org