Burning Bridges: Narrows Occupy SxSW

Drink deep, it’s just a taste, and it might not come this way again,
I believe in moments, transparent moment, moments in grace when you’ve got to stake your faith

– Rites of Spring

South By Southwest has become a self-parody; any vestige of promotion for independent artists and labels has been rapidly replaced by a soul-crushing circle jerk of payola and corporate scheming. One need only see a stage (named the Jacked stage no less) in shape of a giant Doritos vending machine to think that, perhaps, the human experiment has run its course. 

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 Yet, it was there I found myself in the company of dear friends Narrows  (who were themselves accompanied by tour manager/roadie/merch lord/fantastic human Rich Hall) as they hit Austin with tourmates and force of nature, All Pigs Must Die. With the exception of the Power of the Riff/Southern Lord/Brooklyn Vegan showcase, my primary motivation was to watch Narrows lay waste to all before them as they played 5 shows in 3 days (and to get tattooed by Steve Byrne). It’s funny how things work out.

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Brooklyn Vegan/Chaos in Tejas have, for several years running, promoted a guerilla show at 2 a.m. on the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge. The shows on the bridge have been something of an Austin tradition, and I was perplexed but rather pleased to find myself surrounded by 400 kids as Regents started their 2 a.m. set powered by a gas generator and purloined city power. Regents feature ex-member of Sleepy Time Trio and Maximillian Colby, and I’d had the pleasure of seeing them at a BBQ earlier in the day. They dashed through their four-song set (the maximum allotted to each band) and we set about switching equipment so Narrows could keep things moving. Narrows were, in a word, amazing — because the setting itself was amazing. Anything I write won’t do it justice but I’ve included photos from Shawn Scallen which perfectly capture the night. It seems fitting that the man whose photos graced the pages of Heartattack and inserts of Ebullition albums would be there to do the job.

Austin’s finest showed up following Narrow’s set and the show, unfortunately, ended there. But that 20 minutes…ah, that was perfect. Drink deep ladies and gentlemen.

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– Captain of Games

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