March 20, 2011 – 8:46 pm | No Comment

SXSW. Every band there was on the precipice of greatness. Or so they think. Please excuse my brevity but a week in Austin has put the hurt on my brain. God Bless H-Town.
- The singer …

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SXSW - The Beaver and beyond

Submitted by Commandrea on March 20, 2011 – 12:59 amNo Comment

So many good things happened on day six of SXSW it was like a harmonic conversion of coolness. After briefly returning to Houston on Tuesday March 15, it was back on the road on Wednesday, March 16. No sooner was I on the 71 highway than I spied a car with a FPH bumper sticker.

Within miles that car, blaring The Smiths on the sound system, turned off at a roadside convenience stop. I ascertained that Omar, the overlord and owner of Free Press Houston would be stopping soon for a group hug, and I surprised him when he got out of his car minutes later.

Next stop Austin. Even overnight the streets surrounding the SXSW festival have become twice as crowded as they were days earlier during the film and internet versions of the world’s largest convention. First stop, the Austin History Center (810 Guadalupe, mere blocks from the convention center) exhibit of 25 Years of SXSW Music. Immediately as I was pulling up someone was leaving their parking space. All the street parking in Austin in 2011 is paid parking. The photos and various display items were a hearty reminder of how much has gone down in Austin over the last generation. I found the names of two bands on the wall of bands that I’d played bass for in the late 80s, early 90s, a list of every band that played SXSW over the last 25 years.

Before parking the car for the day I ventured up Congress to the thrift store area (Uncommon Objects) and once again lucked out on a parking space where there were none. Upon entering one shop a path led to behind the store where The Silos were playing, people were giving out cigars, and rice, beans, beer and chili was being served. Imagine my surprise where minutes later, stomach full and appetite whetted, I found the LP Mingus, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady for a mere $24. Sure you can get a CD copy of this landmark jazz record, but the vinyl constantly commands 100 bills on eBay. The road downtown on Congress resembles a parking lot after a stadium concert so I divert to Barton Springs and cross the less used bridge at Lamar and make it to the Austin Convention Center parking lot building in less than 15 minutes.

Once parked, I make my way to the convention exhibition in hall 2, pick up some schwag and munch on a scone and sip afternoon tea from a somewhat festival related UK booth. Then it’s up to the IFC House (more free munchies and Shiner Bock) and an in-house interview with Michael Stipe who’s in town promoting videos of songs from the new R.E.M. record.

From my vantage point at the ad hoc IFC monitor room I can see the street where the line for the world premiere of The Beaver will be situated. Stipe introduces a video directed by James Franco and then exits. I proceed to the line for The Beaver, encountering Variety’s Joe Leydon who innocently cuts in line.

Before The Beaver director Jodie Foster, who also co-stars as the wife of the delirious character played by Mel Gibson, told the audience that The Beaver’s not a comedy. The audience was amused and laughing at least up until the third act when The Beaver becomes decidedly dark.

As helmed by Foster The Beaver is not a film for everybody, yet the people it is for will embrace it with open arms. As Foster told the audience, she wanted to depict “sentiment without sentimentality.”

- Michael Bergeron

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