SXSW diary by Laura Mendoza of White Shag, part 2
White Shag’s Laura Mendoza with the second installment of her SXSW report…
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – Day 2
Today was a “promoting the band” day so I decided to head out by myself to 6th street and hand out some flyers and stickers. I didn’t want to worry about parking so Jorge dropped me off. We had a show at 6:30 at the 04 Lounge on the South side of Austin later so I hung out all day promoting and the boys scooped me up later on.
6th street was happening for a Wednesday during the day. Not as many people as in the evening, but still a great crowd. One of the best things about SXSW is that it is a band promoter’s paradise. No where else can you get so many people concentrated in one area from all over the world. It is really easy to get the word out about your band or whatever it is that you’re doing. Being armed with free mini buttons and stickers doesn’t hurt either. Of course, I didn’t want to start handing out White Shag stickers to dudes who were in line for an EDM event so I made sure to hit the lines for events that somewhat related to what we play.
As I was talking and chatting people up about our shows this week in Austin, a lot of people had already gotten word about our show on Friday at the Spider House. Turns out the Spider House is an Austin staple that’s been around forever and it’s the spot to be with the locals this week. The Spider House is a bit north of downtown, away from the “shit show” or “shit street” which is a new reference I heard.
Making my rounds, I asked a girl walking down the street next to a really tall guy with a shaved head if she wanted a free sticker and she took one and I continued down my path. Not even 15 seconds later the dude she was with ran up behind me asking for a sticker saying he “had to get one of those.” I was flattered, until he said “gotta represent” and pointed to the inside of his arm where he had a tattoo of a swastika. My heart sank. I was so mad. How dare he? How dare he take our cute, sexy band name and turn it into a racial slur? White Shag is simply a reference to white shag rugs (which are really sexy places to make love I might add). I was heart broken and pissed. I sincerely wanted to kick his ass but part of me felt sorry for him. I simply said “nah, bro, it’s not like that,” and walked away. I could only feel sorry for him.
I made my way down 6th to Congress and started heading toward the venue we were playing at so the boys could scoop me up away from the traffic and chaos. I hopped in our van and not even a mile later we were at one of the coolest dive bars in Austin that we had been in up until now. Jorge and I wearing our black leather cuts fit in perfectly with the biker crowd that was hanging out. I was happy our friend, Clinno had hooked us up with this gig.
When we got in a 4-piece band called Televangelist was playing. They were okay. I didn’t think they fit with the vibe of the venue and their sound reminded me of those bands in Detroit that turn their back to the audience. Not my cup of tea but whatever.
We met James immediately who is the guy who runs the lounge. He was very welcoming and really made sure the bands could get their equipment in easily and park their cars in a safe place. We started off our set with a bang and rolled through all our tunes with rock and roll debaucher-ease and they loved it. We ended up selling a ton of merch and got a ton of e-mail addresses. White Shag score!
We decided to hang at the 04 Lounge for a while. That’s when I formally met Big Tex, the man with a raging Texas mustache. He tried to offer me a sample of beef jerky while we were on stage but I was too busy rockin’ out. I now had the opportunity to sample this delicacy that Big Tex had concocted himself and it was delicious. It ended up being my dinner and I normally don’t eat meat at all.
We checked out a couple of the bands that were playing after us. The band right after us was called 40 Dead Men. They were also a 3-piece. The blonde, long-haired guitarist/lead singer was in his bare feet and had his pants rolled up like floodwaters. I think the only thing he was missing was a piece of straw in his mouth. Regardless, they sounded good and were definitely palatable. I would categorize them as stoner blues rock and they did it pretty well. I think their songs were a little repetitive was all and lacked variety.
Next up was another band called Philo Beteaux. They were a 4-piece. They reminded me of the bartenders at Imperial with tattoos and beards but in addition to the tats and facial hair they were also wearing suits. It was quite elegant. They were a heavier band for sure with almost no vocals. I would call it instrumental stoner punk. They were pretty entertaining and played in a circle. After that band, we decided to hit it and take our equipment back and maybe head to a show later.
Seth enticed us upon arrival to the house with a mixing session of the new tracks we just recorded. So needless to say, we weren’t going out. We raged with Seth while he mixed and made us sound amazing. Once we were done at about 12:35 and I retreated to my Facebook newsfeed and read this from our buddy Andy Siron:
“While back stage at the X concert at Mohawk some car plowed through a big crowd of people on Red River. I hear that about 30 people got hit. So crazy.”
Immediately, I let the guys know. Seth was shocked and worried and started making sure those close to him were safe. We started to Google any info we could find on what had happened. Apparently, Andy had posted almost immediately after the incident so it was hard to find any info. The only info we could find was from an Australian online magazine. Joe, Jorge and I immediately started e-mailing our families and letting them know what had happened and not to worry once they heard it on the news in the morning. I’ve been told that in all the years of SXSW, nothing has ever happened like this. As I write this, I’m grateful to say that everyone we know who is here from Detroit is safe and all of our friends here in Austin are safe too. But I am very sad for those who were victims of this senseless tragedy. Please be safe, everyone. Life is a lot more fragile than we think.