3.18.2017

Strip Down to Texas Tour - Day 4: South By

I slept about as good as I could on my camping mat and sleeping bag in Vic's small study, which can't be called actually good in an absolute sense, only a relative one. I had set my phone alarm for 11 AM, but once again woke up about a half an hour before it chimed, which gave me some time to complete my morning meditation (more of a focused effort not to doze off than an actual productive meditation). Afterwards, I noticed a text from Wendy on my phone: "The shower is free...you might want to grab it before everyone gets up. Pro tip." I tried. However, Ben had been a little quicker than me and so I took a quick shower after him. Wendy and I made ourselves coffees on Vic's one hitter coffee machine and I used that to wash down some aspirin and Asian herbal energy supplements. At that point I was ready to face the day.

A little bit after 1 PM when we were all prepped and ready, most of us (Stuart had already walked downtown) piled into the SUNSPOT tour van and headed down to the infamous 6th Street district of Austin TX, which is basically the heart of the huge music festival called South by Southwest (or just "South by" by the locals; SXSW for expediency in writing my blog posts), currently in full swing. 6th Street reminded me a lot of State Street in Madison WI, but on steroids...the kind of steroids that can only be purchased illegally on the black market because they will cause your johnson to shrivel and fall off.

A punk band that SUNSPOT knows, THREE KISSES from Alaska, was performing at a pub/vinyl record store called Whisler's from 1-2 PM and so that was our first stop. We parked the van in the lot of an insurance company across the street from Whisler's and walked into the middle of the band's energetic hour-long set. When they finished rocking, their gothic singer Tish chatted with SUNSPOT a while. A Thai food vendor had set up a cart next to Whisler's and when they opened at 2 PM, I scored my first real meal of the day, a Thai noodle dish that had peanuts and a few vegetables. This was the first whole plant food I had eaten in days, it felt like. The portion size was good and it had decent flavor, albeit not $10 worth of either of those constituents. But vendors know they can sell stuff at whatever price the market will bear.

Stuart met us at Whisler's and when we decided it was time to move on, he and I walked down 6th Street toward the heart of the fest, while the others took the van there (except Wendy, who had actually coordinated a 2:30 PM meeting with one of her Austin-based customers at a coffee shoppe across the street from Whisler's...she's an incredible multi-tasker). The walk was the first exercise I had had in days too, and it felt good to move. It took Stuart and I perhaps 20 minutes to reach the epicenter of 6th Street festivities, an area cordoned off from vehicular traffic by barricades. Even walking, we beat the van folks there because they had to park the van. We milled about with the throngs. 

There were bands playing in most of the bars lining 6th Street. We stepped into the country and western themed Trophy Bar, which had a mechanical bull in operation, tossing a few 20-something women about as their friends cheered them on. Wendy met us at the Trophy Bar and we started walking back toward the van by way of Hoeke's Heavy Metal Pizza joint, where we scored some slices of heavy metal pizza for a late lunch before driving back to Vic's. Road trip eating is not the healthiest and it really makes me smile when I realize how healthy I usually eat at home (spinning the trauma of road chow into a positive). Greasy, starchy, salty road food like pizza, while tasty, is pretty alien to my body after the fitness kick I have been on for about a year now. I am craving fruit and vegetables and cannot wait to get my hands on some after this rock-n-roll adventure concludes. I wonder how many pounds I will put on during this trip...

Back at Vic's, the band and crew chillaxed a bit, some falling almost immediately into brief power naps, until Mike started rallying everyone for Phase 2 of today's shenanigans, driving to Marble Falls TX, where SUNSPOT will rock the aforementioned Brass Hall there. Read on...

Phase 2

It was about an hour's drive from Vic's house in Austin TX to Brass Hall in Marble Falls TX, where SUNSPOT rocked their first full band show of the tour tonight. The drive felt longer, because it was a long and lonely stretch of road. Everyone was a little wiped from lack of sleep and a fun filled afternoon at SXSW in Austin. When we got to Marble Falls and finished loading the gear into the club, I walked up the street to a restaurant called Rae's Bar and Grill in search of some food with vegetables in it. The best I could do was a chicken taco salad plus a side salad with the maximum amount of veggies I could add on. Texans are apparently not huge on veggies, but it was enough to tide me over. I ordered an assortment of to go tacos off the menu to bring back to the band posse while they were setting up back at Brass Hall.

SUNSPOT rocked a solid set. They ended up performing first because another act had canceled. After they played, a rapper and a DJ took the stage and apparently it was a really fun dance party. However, I only heard about it second hand...I had gone out to the van to rest a few minutes after SUNSPOT played, but succumbed to a full on power nap and before I knew it, the bar was closing.

The power nap served me well though. I had offered to designated drive the band and crew home after the show, along the long and winding rural highway that separated Marble Falls from Austin. Everyone thanked me profusely for DD-ing, but honestly it was very pleasant. I was pretty well rested from my earlier power nap and at 3 AM, I had the highway pretty much to myself but for a car or two and a small herd of mule deer I spotted by the side of the road as we barreled past.

Back at Vic's, we chilled on his back porch as one by one everyone eventually succumbed to fatigue and went to bed, including myself. I downed some Benadryl and an herbal sleep aid that guided me quickly down the dark tunnel to slumberland.

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