Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cut My Thoughs For Coconuts

There are far worse places to be out of money than Austin. The speck of blue in the sea of red has everything you want in a large city. The only problem is you'll probably melt before you really appreciate it.

It would be nice to say I made the most of my time in Texas' capital, but the truth is I was too afraid to go outside for long periods of time. It was absolutely roasting outside. No word of a lie, I saw a dried out frog and baby bird on the footpath, where the concrete had roasted them into a crisp. I had no desires to join them.

Eventually, I did make a trip under the blazing sun, and on late Monday afternoon I walked for an hour into downtown. It was 6PM, and it was still around 40°. Ugh. Outside Stubb's Bar-B-Q, the line had been moving for 30 minutes, but still snaked around the corner. As if the walk wasn't enough to drench my t-shirt, another 30 minutes in the sun would.
Probably ended up as someone's free Sunday roast.

No matter, all the sunburn and sweat in the world was not going to stop me from seeing Weezer - though something did prevent the opening band from showing up.

The show was outdoors, and if it wasn't for the stage or drinks tent, the venue may as well have been a glorified backyard party. Perfect. The sun was still out when Weezer came on stage, and when the three nerdy guys, a Buddy Holly clone and the best session drummer in the world came on stage, I realised that I could spend years eating noodles if it meant seeing them play on a regular basis. And, as an added bonus, for the first time in weeks, I felt like I was the only Australian among the crowd.

Their set traveled back in time, starting with Raditude and was a bit of a best-of set in reverse. Though they're essentially one man's project in the studio, they're a different beast altogether live. Members took turns at singing songs, and all of the guitar parts were switched around to accommodate River's recent urge to actually interact with the crowd. When Brian Bell, the other guitar player sang 'Keep Fishin'(best filmclip in the world)', Rivers had disappeared from the audience's view. Watching the rest of the band take over was interesting, but my attention had been diverted when I felt someone splash me with water. I looked in the trees that were standing next to me, and in his white shorts and polo shirt, Rivers was doing his best to climb and shake his way to the top. Brilliant.

With the songs going back in time, we were treated to a song that came out in 1997. Assuming it was a Pinkerton b-side, I was surprised when they played a note-for-note cover of Radiohead's Paranoid Android, as if the internet video that has been doing the rounds was not enough of a troll. Evidently, they did play some of those aforementioned b-sides before going off stage for an intermission.

There was a 20 minutes slideshow displayed on the roof of the stage that revealed the band used to play in a garage in 226 Amherst ave in L.A., and at its conclusion the band came out and played through their entire debut album. As one guy yelled out "I felt like I'm fourteen again!", I remembered the first time I came across Weezer. It was another late Saturday night that had turned into early Sunday morning. I was about 10 or 11 years old and the clip for Buddy Holly came on at about 2AM and I was blown away by the special effects - the band was playing the diner in Happy Days. Looking back, it's startling to think that I'd have to travel to the other side of the world to see them live, but that's how profound the introduction was.
Weezer have 3 self-titled albums. This is the best cover.

The show was so good that I went back the next night to see them play Pinkerton. An opening band even showed up, but apart from a drummer who looked like he had special needs everytime he hit his kit, they didn't really do much for me. Even though Weezer opened with 'Memories' on both nights, it was still fucking great to hear the song being played live. Better still, Rivers outdid his tree climb by mounting the speaker system and eventually the venue's fence as he sang 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived'. Watching him up there having the time of his life, it felt somewhat auto-biographical, even if it is a piss take.

My biggest fear about the two nights was that there'd be a repeat of the same songs, but it was never really a problem. Only 'Memories', 'El Scorcho', 'Hash Pipe' and 'Only In Dreams' were repeated. Instead, a bunch of Pinkerton and Blue album b-sides were played and they were absolutely great. There's a beautiful naivety to them that still comes through, and they were just as great as the Pinkerton set that followed.
video
 Rivers, the greatest man in Austin

Both shows were such a nice way to leave Austin, the famed live music capital of the world. It was more than a matter of waiting a few days to see Weezer, it was a few years. Having been so close, but still missing them in Boston was tough, but having to wait a bit longer made the whole experience so much more worthwhile. Kind of like waiting a few days for a shower. Or not. I think this road trip is having a weird effect on me.

Anyway, I've made it to Dallas, and after missing a train by 3 minutes, I had to wait an nearly 90 minutes for the next one. A number of people were really helpful to me when it came to getting the right train and ticket, but everytime they asked for a dollar or two. It was the first time I felt like I could agree to handout - only I didn't have change for any of them. The train had a typical schizo loonie, but I managed to ignore her by sitting opposite someone who was heading to the same hostel as me. As nice as downtown Dallas looks, I've only got a few hours there before getting a night bus to New Mexico. It's three weeks until home, and though it's a feeling that hasn't sunk in, that feeling of moving west is bringing it closer.


***Song
David Bowie - I'm afraid of Americans
I'm not really afraid of Americans, it's quite the opposite, I've grown quite fond of them. It just happens that this song is really great.





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