Day Two found Lonesome Onry and Mean at the Vanguard Records day party, where the label was intent on showcasing several of its newest acts. While Viva Voce may not be the best band name ever, the Pixies-ish Portland duo charmed the early crowd.
We'd been anticipating our first time to hear Steven Kellogg and the Sixers, but after three songs we'd heard enough of their Steve Earle Lite thing to make an executive decision to leave the party in search of sustenance. We walked a few blocks and came upon Mmpanada, a food truck serving eight types of the Argentine pastry. The chicken and green chili was excellent, as were barbeque and the traditional Argentine picadillo filling. We'll be going back to Mmpanada.
We hoofed it back to the Belmont in time to encounter the Gourds unloading their equipment in crowded W. Sixth St. and hung backstage with Max Johnston's wife and children while the band did the mandatory schmoozing that goes with being signed to a new label. Once technical issues were worked out with the banjo and accordion (why is it always the banjo and accordion that bolloxes a sound check?), the Belmont filled to beyond capacity.
The Gourds then proceeded to give a lesson in Texas music to the assembled throng, breaking hard into a hectic cover of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" that hushed even the backstage hangers-on. They proceeded to wail on some steroidal Tex-grass that has more spunk, muscle, and soul than the Mumford or Avett's passenger train can haul. There, we said it. Sorry. Not.
During the set we ran into Houston blues-rockers Grandfather Child and made the introductions to Vanguard A&R man and former Houstonian Bill Bentley, who is becoming a fan.
Hooking up with a couple of Houston compadres, we hiked through the Capitol Grounds to Scholz Garten for the Texas Music Magazine subscriber's party. The back outdoor garden was packed to capacity and the free Miller Lite beer line stretched to eternity. We arrived just in time to hear another of Lonesome, Onry and Mean's Texas favorites, Hacienda.
There were a few people who seemed to know every word to every song, but most of the crowd seem genuinely stunned by the power and San Antonio-tinge roots rock of these powerful San Antonio rockers. Finishing with "Mama's Cooking," the band finally coaxed the crowd into dance mode.
We then took our first bus trip of this SXSW tour and it was a painless pleasure after several long hikes on tired feet. We ran into Rick Rizzo, Nic Tremulis and John Stirratt in the street and, in return for packing a little gear, found ourselves inside Club Deville without a badge or paying cover. We immediately ran into Todd Rutherford and Jesika von Rabbit from Gram Rabbit and introductions were made all round.
Cheap Trick/Candy Golde drummer Bun. E. Carlos arrived with little fanfare, and the ensemble was complete. As there was no Green Room and no true equipment area, the legendary drummer assembled his kit along the wall and it sat there like some gleaming, unapproachable rock and roll altar at which we would all soon be invited to worship.
And, indeed, while Gram Rabbit's set was rock steady and loud as hell, Candy Gold lived up to our hype in the band's first live gig ever. Opening with "The Hold Steady," these grizzled Chicago scene vets laid down a barrage of rock that was the equivalent of any shock-and-awe attack that Muammar Qadaffi might be expecting. And for the record, Carlos may not have "quit" Cheap Trick, as recent press release reiterated, but he was damn sure rocking and having much fun with a new band last night in Austin.
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Austin guitar hero Ian Moore strolled through the crowd, and as we turned to look, realized that members of R.E.M. and Big Star were also on hand to see Candy Golde's debut.
After Candy Golde's sonic assault, our feet gave out and we decided to pack it in, as our hotel was only a short three-block walk away. We grabbed a beef fajita burrito and some salsa and headed for our room to reload for Saturday.