SXSW With LOM: French Rockers, Free Tequila And MXMW
Inspector Cluzo, aka The French Bastards
Photos by Amy Prasad
So we're checked in and we're on the way up to the room. Who's in the elevator with us? John Popper from Blues Traveler. In person, he looks like a cartoon character, something waxy and a bit spooky about his motel tan. He's all effusive, wanting to make sure everyone in the elevator is coming to his showcase. Lonesome, Onry and Mean doesn't make eye contact. We have other plans.
Just in front of the hotel is the France Rocks tent. When we arrived, a rocking, raunchy band called Inspector Cluzo (who also occasionally go by the charming moniker The French Bastards) is blasting a too-good-looking crowd with some Motely Crue-ish rock. We signed up for this because it is run by the French Export Bureau and they have promised free wine. And they deliver. Despite a noon-ish huge carne guisada breakfast at Cisco's on E. 7th, by 2:30 we are buzzing.
Inspector Cluzo seems to think that yelling "Fuck you" and "Fuck" over the microphone is the sign of U.S. rock stardom. It's getting annoying, and getting in the way of the acceptance of their music, which is pretty good and often funny. The distracting impromptu fashion show is also getting in the band's way.
We meet Michelle Aran, the head of publicity for the France Rocks shindig. She has the worried look of someone in charge of something with too many moving parts - and way too many musicians - but she is gracious and takes time to talk about some of her favorites among the scheduled bands.
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She also introduces us to Mr. Patrice Vanoni, the French cultural attache who just happens to live in Houston. He is dipping into a plate of tacos that are as good as any of the food we've had at any event so far. When Inspector Cluzo harangues the crowd to chant "Fuck the bass player, fuck the bass player," Vanoni visibly winces and rolls his eyes at us. Thankfully he seems to have missed the band talking about wanting to have sex with the French President's wife.
The second band up is Revolver. My companion notes, "Now this looks like a French band." Black shirts, cool sunglasses, and rock star good looks do give Revolver a certain savoir faire that was missing from the Inspector Cluzo. After an interminable soundcheck to get the cello right, Revolver begins with a stomping rockabilly number that revs up the crowd which seems to contain more than its fair share of supermodel candidates.
The band worked its way through a repertoire of catchy rock songs, some with four-part harmonies reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. At that point, my female companion said, "Let's split, this sounds like some sappy chick shit." Lonesome, Onry and Mean hated to leave that red wine behind.
Free booze can be a real killer on these Austin afternoons that are more like the beginning of summer than spring. Leaving France Rocks, we waltzed down the street with a good wine buzz and stumbled in on the New West Records day party.
Ponderosa at the New West party
It was Houston old home week up in the Belmont, where the sun had revelers like the Chronicle's Andrew Dansby lurking in any shade that could be found. Robert Ellis and the Boys had it turned to 11 and represented the old home town well as members of Old 97's hung in the crowd.
We bumped John Egan, George Fontaine, and Kyla Fairchild, one of the founders of No Depression magazine, who was most curious about all things Houston music and seemed to dig Ellis's efforts. Ellis was followed by another New West signee, Ponderosa, and they delivered a stinging set of Southern rock. Free booze? Oh, yes, only by now we had switched to microbrews.
Tentatively headed for the Village Voice Media shindig at the Austin Music Hall, we were making good headway until Rocks Off Sr. peeled off suddenly and stopped two amazingly hot, mini-skirted vixens. We had never witnessed Rocks Off Sr. in female predator mode before, and his technique was quite instructional.
The young ladies decided that what we needed before the VVM shindig was free tequila. In Lonesome, Onry and Mean's survival guide, free tequila is never a good thing, appearing in our manual right next to snake bites and rat poison. Free tequila at 4 p.m. after an afternoon of wine drinking? Never.
But wristband attached, we suddenly found ourselves drinking massive margaritas while some Brazilian dance/techno ensemble labored mightily to insure that our afternoon would not pass without a headache to embellish our fun.
It all began to go wrong when my companion decided shots were in order. Having moved to Atlanta a few months back, she was out of practice and we lobbied against the shot, but she called LOM a pussy and swallowed. Within the hour, she was in a taxi, headed home.
En route to the Music Hall we passed by one of the cleverest events we'd seen, Mouth by Mouthwest. This was a small showcase taking place in the downstairs reception room of a local music-loving dentist. Only in Austin could you see Alejandro Escovedo playing in a dentist's office.
The Music Hall was a madhouse. We headed straight for the buffet of fajitas and pinto beans and felt ourselves reviving. We missed Ume's entire performance as we gobbled life saving proteins and starches. But we made it into the viewing area in time to catch Wild Flag's set, and those ladies delivered the goods.
But by this time the days alcohol consumption had determined that there would be no Wu-Tang Clan for Lonesome, Onry and Mean and that he must retire and live to fight another day.