SXSW RECAP: BIKE PUNKS AND THRASHER’S TEXAS DEATH MATCH

I went to SXSW last week because Thrasher magazine was putting on a “Texas Death Match,” a four-day, two-stage event at the Scoot Inn, replete with a six-foot mini ramp in the back. Having freelanced to them for a few years from afar (they’re stationed in San Francisco), I figured I’d do well to pony up for a plane ticket and meet them out there–my editor said he’d give me enough assignments to make it worth my while. When I saw the playbill (Odd Future, Pentagram, Das Racist, Hunx & His Punx, Pentagram, Danny Brown, etc.) I knew I was making a wise investment.

Photo by John Prolly

Once I got to Austin I knew I’d additionally made the right decision to check my bike and skateboard there, too (despite the oversize fees costing me nearly the price of my front wheel). But just look at those wide open streets! Smooth sloping hills, and normal, right-next-to-the-curb bike lanes aplenty! I went to Austin knowing that it’s great for cycling but I was nonetheless amazed by how courteous motorists were. I don’t think I had to make my usual “Yo! Yip!” sounds or use my bell but a couple times, and that was directed at distracted show-goers instead of the usually impatient, presumably constipated NYC cabdrivers.

I concede it’s kind of a stereotype that late-20-something skateboarders get into track bikes, but that’s fine. These two things are huge sources of enjoyment; the bike anymore, I admit, more frequently so. Sometimes stereotypes are around because they’re true.

A bike friend put me in touch with Drew, an Austinite he met in Puerto Rico during a vacation, who let me crash and showed me around town. I got into town a couple days before Thrasher‘s event started on Wednesday so I could unwind a bit. “Wanna go to a bike gang party and keep drinking beer?” Why yes, yes I do.

Black Label, a local bike gang, had a bunch of folks out for some beer-drinking relays. I opted out of that and tallbike-jousting and made myself useful by manning beer runs.

I know a lot of people would be thrilled by this sight but I bypassed it several times for more tall cans of Lone Star. Tell me, what is wrong with shitty beer? I know Four Loko is cost-effective, but, what’s the sprint-to-the-finish, snow cone-tasting rush?

$5.52 for Camel Filter Wides? That’s not bad. I quit two years ago but I still find cigarette prices cut in third…interesting. Anybody know the current prices in Missouri? $2.70 last I was there…

Back at the Black Label party, this flame-shooting marching band appeared, cheerfully enough, out of nowhere. The trombonist had a cabled gas canister attached to his waist, which he ran to the rear of his horn. Christ, just don’t inhale.

The party migrated to someone’s house nearby where we found this contraption in the backyard. Drew and I took turns trying to subdue this thing until it swiftly popped my shoulder out of socket. What’s that saying, “You play around, you lay around?” I’d had enough fun for the day.

Photo by John Prolly

The next day I caught up with John Prolly, prolific bicycle blogger, and we rode around as Austin got ready for SXSW. This cyclist knows you gotta time the lights if you want to systematically catch all-greens (nice monstrous leg definition by the way, there, guy!).

Prolly showed me this sick spot by the springs. Don’t doubt the man’s got some hops. I took his Milwaukee Bruiser for a spin and, after nearly wrecking after a couple two-inch airs, I sheepishly set his bike down. My shoulder throbbed with gratitude.

Things started cooking at the Scoot Inn come Wednesday. Above, Das Racist. “All the non-white people please come to the front!” (I interviewed them at two in the morning later in the week in a back room at Emo’s and it went…terribly. After one particular dud of a question my publicist friend nudged me and said, OK, now you’re prodding. Whoops. Das Racist and I apologized to each other about three times and we agreed to redo the interview back in Brooklyn.)

I caught Gavin’s stand-up routine, which elicited a variety of yucks, chuckles, a guffaws. He made a great point about speed boats and cock-blocking, a not so practical tip on consuming cocaine in mild, public environments, and promised we’d all get laid at SXSW (I…didn’t. Weep.) I saw Gavin later at the Thrasher party, and I asked him if he’d checked out the skating on the mini ramp. “I’m 40 years old. I don’t check out skating, just like I don’t check out street hockey.” Yikes. I told him he might be at the wrong party, and though I said it nicely, I think that’s the curtest I’ve ever said to the guy. I doubt he gave a shit, as I saw him there again the next day. He looked good in his new, white cowboy hat. I sincerely mean that.

I, for one, checked out the skating. This flick of Raney Beres I took ended up on the Thrasher website. Beyond this dude, Kenny Anderson, Ethan Fowler, Braydon Szafranski, Justin Strubing, and others put forth some quality shredding.

Photo by Jordan Joseffer

Mr. Andrew W. K. and I hash it out–once again. We very smartly applied (100 spf) sunscreen before we got going.

Photo by Brock Fetch

I interviewed Detroit-based Danny Brown. Not only is his music incredibly fucking funny, but he’s equally so during an interview. He answered my last question, in part, by making a loud, slurping sound. He is my new favorite rapper, and he can be yours, too:

Speaking of rappers…You no doubt heard by know how nuts the Odd Future set was. I was seriously worried for the safety of Tyler and Hodgy Beats (and, gulp, the kid whose nose is about to get smashed when he lands on him).

OK…this one takes a bit of context: Saturday afternoon, I was at the hotel and I had to pee. Even though I was alone I closed the bathroom door. Once I finished, though, it wouldn’t open again; the knob would spin and spin in either direction–and I left my cell phone on the bed! After ten minutes of banging on all and screaming, “SOMEBODY HELP ME! I’M STUCK IN THE BATHROOM! ROOM 215! HELP!!!”, my fate set in–I would miss several assignments, stuck in this 4’x8′ room in an empty hotel, quietly hyperventilating, while the folks at Thrasher wondered why I wasn’t meeting up to interview people. I kicked the door with my heel and was surprised when it went nearly through. This door is made of particle board! I grabbed a wall-mounted clothing iron and started banging away. When that broke in my hands, I grabbed the ironing board itself and, well, shredded a hole in the door. A full size mirror crashed in shards, much to my (regretful!) aural satisfaction. I later evoked that scene in The Shining to describe the damage but, ah, as you see, that’s kinda under-evokes it. Jordan, the staffer I was staying with, was rightly concerned about the damage–he’d put the room on his credit card–but I met with the hotel manager in the morning and he agreed I shouldn’t have to pay for damages. Thank God.

Before SXSW was over I’d interviewed this Josh T. Pearson:

Killer Mike:

Piper Halewell:

And, happily, this guy, one of my favorite interviewers ever:

My buddy Drew and I bookended my week in Austin with another bike gang party, thrown by the Skidmarks.

“Throw” is really the operative word in that sentence, as a variety of heavy objects–including a severed pig’s head, were catapulted at random show-goers.

Charmed! Thanks Austin!

Here’s a great edit of the Death Match highlights:

PETER MADSEN

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