Tour Diary – SXSW2012

In March of 2012, Duck Fight Goose attended SXSW in Austin, TX. They played five shows in Austin, then visited San Antonio and Los Angeles. This is my diary of the tour.

Duck Fight Goose at SXSW – Day 0

Nearly 24 hours after meeting up at Pudong Airport, we finally arrived in Austin. Texas hospitality never fails to disappoint — my brother brought us groceries and picked us up in our rental van, and the owners of the house we’re staying at even left us a bottle of Tito’s Vodka.

 

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DFG Weibo Roundup 1

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Duck Fight Goose at SXSW – Day 1

After a hearty southern breakfast at Dan’s, we made our way downtown to check in at SXSW. Every year, the festival takes over all of the downtown street parking, and the shady private lots raise their prices from $3/day to $20-30/day. We were eventually able to get one of the last available spots in a public garage.

Once we’d checked in and looked around the convention center, we discussed where to go next. Since we had the whole afternoon free, we decided to check out the Austin Zoo. It’s relatively small, but the animals are well cared for, and the short trip gave the band a glimpse of the beauty of the Texas hill country.

To round out the “Austin-ness” of the day, we picked up barbecue from Rudy’s and some Lone Star beers, and ate dinner out on the back porch.

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DFG Weibo Roundup 2

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Duck Fight Goose at SXSW – Day 2

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After a slow morning of cereal and leftover barbecue, we loaded everything into the van and drove down to Crow Bar for our first Austin show, the Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Showcase. We had to get there early to pick up the guitar amps that we’re sharing with the other Maybe Mars bands, so we had a couple of hours to kill on South Congress before the show. We squeezed in as many vintage shops as we could, and Uncommon Objects, a huge curio shop, was the biggest hit with the band.

Before this trip, I was worried about the lack of sound-checks and ten-minute stage setup times, but it turns out we’re all experienced enough now to pull it off. Reactions were good from the few people who showed up for our set — mostly other bands who would play later in the day. Afterwards, we stuck around for Rustic, Snapline, and Carsick Cars … and free beer … then went for tacos at Torchy’s.

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DFG Weibo Roundup 3

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Duck Fight Goose at SXSW – Day 3

Today was another off-day, so we spent most of the morning shopping — Guitar Center, army surplus stores, etc. After lunch at Elevation Burger, we drove down to the “wilderness” section of the Barton Creek Greenbelt. We hiked along the creek for a while, following the trail to Twin Falls, and eventually found a nice swimming spot. I’m not allowed to post the pictures of the band in their underwear, so here are Han Han and 33 wading in the creek …

Later, we headed downtown to see The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Belmont. We got there a little early, so we had to suffer through Titus Andronicus first, but it was worth it to see the band that inspired so many noise rockers. Han Han and 33 were in the front row, and posted cell phone pics to their weibos: DFG Weibo Roundup 3.

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DFG Weibo Roundup 4

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Duck Fight Goose at SXSW – Day 4

I’m running so far behind on these updates that it’s getting hard to remember what we did … three days ago … so this will be a short entry. We started the day late, drove down to campus to borrow some keyboard stands, then to Aussie’s for our second Austin show. The stage was set up in the parking lot, and there were only a couple of people there, but the band played well and we had a nice mid-afternoon lunch.

Then, it was on to Monkey Wrench Books, a “collectively-run radical” bookstore on North Loop for the Permanent Wave SXPW Showcase. The place was tiny, and the PA looked like a pair of plastic computer speakers — quite a contrast to the large outdoor stage and professional setup at Aussie’s. Unlike the earlier show, though, there were a good number of people squeezed into (and around) Monkey Wrench, and they were really into the music.

Here’s a video of DFG playing “Circus”

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After some quick shopping at the vintage shops across the street, we went to Threadgill’s for some good down-home food. Chicken-fried steak took a little explaining, but everyone enjoyed it — as well as the catfish, pork chops, okra, collard greens, grits, and various other southern standards.

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DFG Weibo Roundup 5

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Duck Fight Goose at SXSW – Day 5

After several days of heavy American food, everyone was ready for a change, so we went to Austin’s new northern “Chinatown” area for pho. Then, we finally got around to checking out the SXSW Artists Lounge, where they’d just run out of gift bags … we picked up some free drinks, though.

When I was first arranging the band’s official SXSW showcase, I hadn’t realized that it would fall on St. Patrick’s Day. Downtown was crazier than usual, with drunk people everywhere, and even a small protest march. We gawked for a while, then went back to pick up our instruments and load in for the show.

It was still early, so some of the group went to the Congress bridge to try to see the bats, while the rest of us walked to Waterloo and Whole Foods. We all made our way back to 6th Street just in time to catch Rustic’s performance. Then, it was time for DFG:

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DFG Weibo Roundup 6

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Duck Fight Goose post-SXSW – Day 6

[Note: We’ve arrived back in Shanghai, but I’m going to continue posting the last few days of diary entries anyway]

Sunday was our last full day in Austin, so Damen and I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law while the rest of the band finished up some last-minute shopping. That evening, we went to LeeAnn’s SX Barn Dance in South Austin. I was worried that DFG wouldn’t fit in with the singer/songwriters and aging hippies, but it turned out to be the best show of the week. The food was great, people were extremely friendly, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the band.

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DFG Weibo Roundup 7

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Duck Fight Goose post-SXSW – Days 7-10

Day 7, Monday: On Monday morning, we checked out of our rental house and drove to San Antonio. I’ve always hated I-35, so I took the hill-country route — it adds about half an hour to the trip, but the scenery is worth it. Once we got into town, we found a decent Mexican restaurant for lunch, then wandered around the Riverwalk and the Alamo before heading back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. By the time we made it to the bar, tornado warnings were in effect and it was pouring down rain. The organizers cancelled the show about an hour later, and we looked for a bar closer to the hotel.

Day 8, Tuesday: We drove back up 281 to 290, and into Austin, making it to Rudy’s in time for lunch. Some of the group wanted to hit South Congress one more time, so we stopped there for a while on our way to the airport. Even after we gave them thousands of dollars for international plane tickets and another couple of hundred to get our baggage to LA, the staff of American Airlines were still extremely hostile. We decided we wouldn’t let them ruin our trip, and resolved to eat at Amy’s Ice Cream after going through security. Just as AA only hires mean old ladies to work their counters, the TSA employs mall-cop washouts to arbitrarily enforce their arbitrary rules, while continuously shouting at people to remove their shoes. We made it through eventually, and the ice cream did help, but the experience was a reminder that the “free-est nation on earth” is just as much an authoritarian state as “Communist China.”

A few hours later, we arrived in LA, were shuttled to our hotel in Burbank, and had our first chain-restaurant meal … at Denny’s.

Day 9, Wednesday: First thing in the morning, we grabbed all of the instruments and walked the three blocks to Fender’s Artist Showroom. They’d arranged a whole day of activities for us, starting with coffee and dozens of cool guitars, then a photo shoot, interviews, and finally a full on video shoot in the adjacent rehearsal space. More from this part of the trip should be coming out in the next couple of weeks.

Day 10, Thursday: LAX. TSA “security” once again. Fourteen hours on a plane. Back in Shanghai.

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