New SXSW tradition: Curating the absurd ways bands describe themselves

In the absence of a major league sports team, Austin has to get creative with its pasttimes. Normally, we cling to the burnt orange glories of the Texas Longhorns, but they’ve been frozen hamburger for a few seasons. South by Southwest has now roared into town for its annual weakening of the city’s collective hold on reality, however. That means it’s time to kick back and poke fun at visitors.

The easiest way to pass the time in mid-March is hunting for ridiculous band names. There are always some doozies, and this year is no different: Guantanamo Baywatch (stalwarts at this point), Rat Fancy, Turbo Goth, Crunkwitch, Ghost Pizza, a rapper who just goes by Dave. But we’re not going to take the easy way out this year! No, the real gold is in the official artist biographies of SXSW showcasing bands.

A note of disclaimer: I write about music, and it’s a struggle sometimes to get through a review without making an overly complex metaphor about snack food or using the word “sonic.” Also, it’s hard out there for a PR person trying to push their clients ahead of the scrum of unknowns thirsty for fame. Dang, though. Bonkers stuff sure does happen when artists try to describe themselves.

Some of these are tongue-in-cheek. Some sound more like a term paper for an undergrad philoshophy class than an artist bio. Regardless, here are a few examples of SXSW bands trying to put their sound or their creative journey into words:

Naked Giants (Seattle, Wash.): “a three-piece garage rock wildebeest”

The Nude Party (Boone, N.C.): “As the hysteria at their local shows steadily increases, so does their reputation with local law enforcement, forcing them daily more to seek employment anywhere but home.”

Jackal Onasis (Brooklyn, N.Y.): “Formed out of an unquenchable need to watch TV and with generally having nothing to do”

The Whistles and the Bells (Nashville, Tenn.): “I wanted to make a record that sounded like some great cosmic dinner party. … Where some strange collection of human heavyweights sit around discussing the odd pilgrimage that is life. I wanted to sonically interpret what a cosmic intersection of such varied DNA might sound like.”

Happy Meals (Glasgow, Scotland): The band’s “potent magickal allure is certain to resonate into the future.”

Fauna Shade (Everett, Wash.): “Twins Peaks-creepy sunniness mixed with chaotic pulp mill grinding and haunted vocals from the woods nearby.”

Echopark (Leece, Italy): The album “Ties” is “not an attempt to describe reality but rather an unconditioned response from the inside. Intentionally recorded using a one-shot approach, the album confines a precise space-time domain in which the songs existed, created by the people and the relationships within.”

Casi (Bangor, Wales): “Aged 11, she penned an a capella concept album based on the lives of her Barbie dolls, recording it on her Pop Idol karaoke microphone,which included a bonus Welsh language translation of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Because Of You.’ It was sadly never released.”

Best of luck to all this SXSW. May you all become famous enough that you don’t need to explain who you are.

We hate vandalism so much

Don’t mess with Texas, but more specifically, don’t mess with Austin’s “I love you so much” wall.

After the famed and highly-photographed mural on South Congress Avenue was defaced early last week, Austinites took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the act of vandalism.

@charcharhanna: “good morning to everyone except the person that defaced the i love you so much wall last night”

@marcussloan1: “When you attack the ‘I love you so much’ wall, you attack me personally”

@MorielleJunisee: “Someone tagged the i love you so much wall in Austin and I’m about to get on the first flight there and find this persons 

@RevellieJessica: “Whoever spray painted over the Austin “I love you so much” wall is gonna cash me ousside”

As one Twitter user, @kelsie_michel, pointed out, the wall has previously been vandalized and restored: “Y’all this has happened before and they’re just gonna paint the ‘I love you so much’ wall back I don’t understand the fret”

Just in time for SXSW, the wall already looks like its old self again, and it’s photo-ready. The original artist, Amy Cook, fixed the red script by the time Tuesday morning rolled around.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

Boot scoot philanthropy

To set boots to a worn wooden dance floor in a historic dance hall is to two-step through time — to waltz across Texas history.

You can use your GPS to get there. You can update your Instagram on your phone while you’re sitting one out and drinking a beer. But when you’re dancing, you just as well could be an 1890s German immigrant. A 1920s Czech farmer. A 1950s small-town business owner. Is that Gary P. Nunn up there? Or maybe Two Tons of Steel? It could be Bob Wills, or Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers.

But if timelessness is the greatest attraction of Texas’ storied dance halls, time itself is an enemy. As cultures change and traditions fade, many dance halls are struggling to keep the years at bay and the doors open. A handful of the most famous — Gruene, Luckenbach, Floore Country Store and others — are keeping history alive, but many others are threatened.

Fortunately, Lone Star Beer has partnered with Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc. to help out. The “Tabs for Texas” campaign aims to raise $30,000 to help preserve these historic dance halls.

Through the end of April, a large acrylic boot will be on display at 228 retailers and dance halls across the state. For every pull tab from a 12-ounce can (or tallboy, you thirsty feller) of Lone Star or Lone Star Light placed in the boot, Lone Star will donate $1 to the dance hall preservation effort.

Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc. is a charitable foundation that is “committed to saving historic Texas dance halls and the authentic music and culture that is still found in them,” according to its website. In addition to promotion and historical documentation, the group provides financial assistance “for the restoration, rehabilitation, and preservation of historic dance halls.”

— Dave Thomas, American-Statesman staff

But how much is a season pass? 

It’s not Six Flags, but to this Texas amusement park’s single patron it’s just as good.

Jimmy White of Decatur told ABC News that he “always knew I wanted to build my grandchildren a roller coaster.” And, as White’s 2-year-old granddaughter Sophia can tell you, that he has.

White, who has no formal engineering training, built a small amusement park on his 80 acres of Texas land, complete with a roller coaster, Ferris wheel and carousel. All of the attractions were made using scrap metal.

The roller coaster is pulled around the PVC pipe, wood and cement track by gravity only — although White is considering installing a motorized device that would return the car to the start of the track. The wheels of the car are designed to lock onto the track, and Sophia is buckled in before each ride.

White told ABC News he will continue adding on to the park, next with a motorized chair swing, proving that he is definitely not a regular grandpa. He’s a fun grandpa.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

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