Firstly, what the hell is up with the weather in Austin, Texas? one day its scorching sun which led to me looking like a burn victim and the next I'm wearing a massive coat and getting frost bite. It was so cold my fingers were like rocks. Karen Elson gets an Everest-sized high five 'cos she performed outside in the bitter cold wearing just a thin peach dress, if my mum were there she's be saying "wrap up warm dear or you'll catch your death!", but no, Karen and her impeccably dressed band didn't let the trivialities of weather dictate their stage persona.
SXSW was a pretty overwhelming affair, literally everywhere you go there’s a cacophony of bands jostling for attention. 6th Street in particular (a stretch of about four miles) had a huge volume of bars and restaurants all with live bands blaring out onto the street, which itself was littered with buskers of all ilk, including proper toothless hillbillies twanging their beaten up four string guitars.
Busking in Texas looked like ramshackle fun so I borrowed a violin from a duo on the street and busked with their banjo player. I earned them one dollar.
Smoke Fairies played four shows at SXSW, the first being a set to a packed out Latitude 30 for the British Embassy showcase with buzz bands Everything Everything and Band of Skulls. It was an ace gig and it was nice to come off stage to greet a free bar. Watch a beating Frozen Heart here.
Our 'showcase' was at The Alehouse. The venue wasn't quite as exciting as the name suggests, in fact, it reminded me of Camden and I had to keep reminding myself that I was five thousand miles away.
There's a pretty dodgy mobile phone video of a potion of the set here - see, it could be Camden if it weren't for the banner.
I also added some viola mayhem to Viv Albertine's gig at Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label showcase - they tried to get me in a nightie but couldn't find one large enough.
With America being the home of the Classic Beef Burger. They certainly know how to make a tasty burger: thick juicy beef patties cooked to perfection with jalapenos, proper cheese and thick smokey bacon - yum. We also went to a seafood restaurant that was a little unconventional in their approach to serving food. They came out with bowls of prawns and crawfish and simply tipped the contents onto your table, luckily I had a bib.
We were also attracted to pizza vans, as you can see, it's the best way to get around in Texas.
We found some great vintage shops in the South Congress, including an awesome shop called Uncommon Objects who were selling Nomadic robes and a frock coat supposedly from the1800s belonging to the Knights Templar. I should have bought it.
Lastly, we met some pandas.
RIP Alex Chilton