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Breathe Deep and Dive in: On the Road at SXSW with Azari & III

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The first time I remember Austin hitting my periphery was from early reviews of Linklater's Slacker, which I managed to later catch at a rep cinema. I fell in love with it and looked deeper into this place that embodied this odd mythos, already being acquainted with Bob and the church of slack. From what I could gather in pre-Internet Hamilton, Ontario, Austin was a vibrant, lower pop city with a healthy dose of absurdist realism and tolerant bohemian ethic.

But like a Madonna Pap smear, the truth to the legitimacy of the product would have to wait unil -- flash forward -- 2012, when Azari & III first performed there at The Parish. We were happy to see a healthy crowd of familiarized fans show up and we had a great show. Later, in the back alley of the venue, we met some local cool kids and went off on an adventure with them. These kids were maybe in their early twenties, but they still seemed to have some quality to them that was reminiscent of the vibe in Slacker. I was relieved and elated, and I saw some deep dancing at a local Goth bar.

It's now 2013 and our first time at SXSW. We're sitting in a rented house in the East end, complete with chicken coup, rusty Honda CB400, and some kind of random aviary action going on above the dog pen.

I just got back from an EU tour ending with a week in Holland, so I make a recipe I had picked up there for the gang called stamppot: crushed potato, kale and shit. It goes down well and we enjoy some Chimay. FYI, organic groceries in Austin ain't cheap. The stamppot was like $40 including rookwurst (an organic chorizo substitute).

We're staying a little out of central, so some kids are driving us around and they all seem to have funny, odd stuff like old DBX compressors, megaphones, and rare, early 80's gay club vinyls scattered in their trunks and back seats along with the half-emptied cases of Lone Star. Some obligatory party favours are easily acquired and with a very casual attitude. It's cooler than we thought it would be and the wind is intense and frankly, a bit chilling. The stamppot is counteracting that. But the vibe is warm and our first foray downtown in daylight was met with the irresistible aroma of smoking brisket from a food truck off Congress.

I'm doing a label showcase for Idol Hanse on the last Saturday of SXSW and I peek into the "suhiya" venue Silhouette; strange, it looks and smells more like a cheap draft watering hole than a sushi spot. According to my mate here, Adam Warped, there's been some decent jams there recently. For some reason, I get a bit of a New Orleans-meets-Denver vibe here, but that's just based on my limited experience in each city.

We have this night off to chill and have a rare, communal, home-cooked meal on the road, but the rest of the following seven days here are a shit storm of show after show, some days three in a row -- noon, night and late night.

Our first throw-down was last night for Twitter at the AMoA, and it was great, like a psychedelic array of light and sound for a crowd that was obviously expecting what we advertise to deliver. Cathartic revelry is an interesting thing to conjure and we always do our best to mutually attain that state with the crowd. By the end of the show, ramped up by opener Kidnap Kid, it was clear that we were there together for a free time of exuberance fueled by high dB output courtesy of Funktion One with Mr Chuck Knowledge at the helm.

With shows for Pitchfork, Richie Hawtin, Hype Machine +++ coming up this week, we're going to relish this moment of quiet calm before a storm of intros, outros, high dBs and higher MCs consume us as we blast or way through what is SXSW in all its frantic yet hypnotizing buzz. Then we do Miami. Breathe deep, then dive in.

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