ACL 2013

It’s not a party until high schoolers yell at you, you lose your keys, sweat out all your body fluid, spend $8 for a tamale, get a blister, and there’s a massive flood and everybody gets a refund. Austin City Limits was a party.

First entry in our survival log: Heat stroke setting in.

First entry in our survival log: Heat stroke setting in.

I'm wearing a vintage sundress and my boyfriend is wearing my Albertus Swanepoel hat.

I’m wearing a vintage sundress and my boyfriend is wearing my Albertus Swanepoel hat. Thanks for the multicultural background, Rosetta Stone marketers.

Beauty note: I only managed to avoid looking wartorn by using Maybelline shine free foundation and NYC lip stain.

The dress above was much better festival wear than my Day 1 outfit. A chiffon maxi skirt with a destroyed sweater, wooden flatforms, and piles of gypsy jewelry looked chic, but it really weighed me down. I could hardly blame the majority of girls there wearing a few square inches of shorts and crop tops. I was just throwing shade because there was none.

Accessory energy level: Day 1.

Accessory energy level: Day 1. 

Accessory energy level: Day 2.

Accessory energy level: Day 2.

The cancellation of Sunday’s shows was a widespread bummer (No Divine Fits, Tame Impala, Neko Case, or The National!), but there were still a lot of great acts.

Here’s a playlist of some crowd pleasers, no poncho required:

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Kathleen Hanna’s Back

Kathleen Hanna is back with a new album with her band, The Julie Ruin. I’ve never been the biggest fan of her music, but the couple of interviews I’ve stumbled upon were really inspiring. She was sick with Lyme disease for years, but emerged with an album. Rather than rehashing a certain 90s sound or clamoring to maintain relevance, she started writing again to feel like herself at a time when all she felt was sickness.

Photo by Joshua Bright

Photo by Joshua Bright

I didn’t educate myself on the Riot Grrl movement until I was 20. It was fascinating to me, and the fashion was alluring, too.

Photo by Linda Rosier

Photo by Linda Rosier

The Julie Ruin look and sound pretty good in “Oh Come On,” so Hanna’s songwriting might finally click for me the way many of her views on feminism already have. Here’s my favorite quote from her feature on All Things Considered: There are as many kinds of feminism as there are women in the world.

SXSW Trends

South by Southwest was lame for me this year, especially compared to last year. This time, over 30,600 paying attendees and about one billion random people who felt like basting themselves in free booze convened to turn the city into a loud, gridlocked, wonderful and terrible week-long party. One truth holds each year: SXSW is a great place for style watching. Here are a few trends I spotted on cool girls waiting in lines and looking lost:

1. Cutouts

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Nasty Gal Candy Cut dress, $58

Cutouts have long been the sexy detail of choice for dresses and tops, but they’re especially perfect for the premature swelter of spring in Texas.

2. Twee Minidresses

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Pop Boutique shift dress, $42

1960s styles are enjoying a thorough replay lately, and I love it. Peter Pan collars, straight cuts and short hemlines are going strong.

3. Prints

minkpink shorts

MINKPINK shorts, $69

Usually I roll my eyes when prints are called a trend. (You know what else is in style? Clothes! And colors are having a moment!) But prints were the focal point if not the whole point of outfits. Festival goers wore them on tops, bottoms or both.

4. Open-back tops

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Asos knot tank, $37

I spotted this breezy style on several girls. Give your stomach a break from crop tops and try showing a little lower back instead.

5. Embellished shorts

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Rag & Bone Highclare shorts, $255

Spikes, patterns, patches, colors and fraying jazzed up the music festival staple.

Basically: Minimalism is nowhere to be found. Pile it on, mix it up, and maybe even power clash.

Call My Agent

So, this past summer I bumbled around in front of a Super 8 camera for the following music video. Watch it, and you will glean two things: I fidget with my hair too much and this is exceedingly pleasant music. 

If you think you like Burywood (and you’re probably right), please stream/download/buy his album, Sum Kinda Golden Age.

Austinites can catch the band’s next show at Headhunters this Sunday, 9:00 p.m.

Wearing: Forever 21 shirt, American Apparel shorts, vintage boots

The Glitter in the Dark

The glitter in the dark
Tomorrow’s forecast predicts a high of 82 degrees, so I’ll have to stretch the definition of fall fashion. The bad news: my wool cape, scarves and leather gloves haven’t been pulled from the closet yet. The good news: I can keep dressing in floaty, sheer layers. Slap on some embellishments, and I do believe it’s what they call holiday dressing. Above are some confections I gravitated to immediately after watching Bat for Lashes’ video for “Laura.”  I judge musicians by how earnestly they can say “superstar” without me wincing. So, I think I’m in love.

Rennes and St. Malo

Rennes, arrival 

There should be a word for that feeling when one sees a familiar face after a day of being shuffled around with massive amounts of complete strangers. Relief comes close. Hugo picked me up at the Rennes airport after my 18 hours of travel. It had been an awkward ballet of failed sleeping positions with no intermission.

He took me to the apartment where I’d be staying, which used to be a suite in a very old hotel right next to the city center. I spent the afternoon fighting off jet lag, reading and touring Rennes on foot.

For a day, I felt sick to my stomach and could barely eat anything. I slowly replaced my bloodstream with Coca-Cola Light (suspicious of the tap water by this point) and some God-given medicine called “Spasmocalm.”

Sounds dumb, but really: It hits like a drug, the realization of how far away I was from anything I knew.

 

St. Malo, beach

There is so much mica that the beach looks like two parts sand to one part glitter. Rows of algae coated tree trunks stand ready to break breaking waves that could wash over the street. The ocean is freezing, but it’s a welcome jolt after the long walk from the only quasi-legal parking spot left thanks to hoards of French folks ready to bask in the high temperatures.

Vintage sunglasses and earrings, A wear sweater, American Apparel shorts, Bisou Bisou bikini

 

Seagulls swoop, I read a few chapters of Into the Wild, get covered in sand and freckles, etc.

I wish I could claim responsibility for this sand fortress.

In the time it takes to walk into the city, peruse shops, eat two crepes (one crispy, with finely chopped vegetables wrapped in a black flour pancake, one sweet with a caramel unique to the Brittany region), and saunter along stone walkways, the shoreline has receded 50 meters, accommodating more sun bathers.

If the sea can come so close to lapping at the city streets, only to take it all back, I’ll be a little fickle, too.

Fort St. Pere, music festival

La Route Du Rock has a pretty great set-up. The music runs from about 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Who shows up to these things at noon, anyway? It helps that noise ordinances mustn’t have been too strict at the makeshift venue, which was accessible by long dirt roads through wheat fields. The camping area had rental huts with locks available to patrons with interests such as sex and not being stolen from. The first few hours were shadeless and therefor kind of miserable. I heard it would be cold here. The first band is some bad electro group that America back-washed. In fact, all the music (except for an excessive set by Dominique A) is in English. Alt-J puts on the best show.

Here’s some good footage from Rennes TV, though I can always do without musicians denying they have a genre and analyzing the “internet age.”

 

Between sets, I affectionately watch the interactions of a group of drunk teenagers. The most outgoing girl kisses everyone, but saves the public make-out session for the boy she (presumably) likes most. They grope in a sunny, open area right by the stage. I’m smiling to myself, but the next time I look over, a visibly wasted girl has taken their place and is trying to vomit with the disturbingly involved encouragement of two friends. Maybe 18 is a bit young for the legal drinking age, after all.

As soon as the sun sets, it gets very cold and I can’t ignore how exhausted I feel. A photographer comes by. I smile broadly because I like the idea of looking ecstatic in a French magazine I’ll never see.

Washed Out

 

Sometimes you just want pastels.

Energie top, vintage rosary, Express shorts, Payless wedges

I excavated these from the depths of my dresser. I know embellished denim from Express doesn’t scream “cool,” but these are just what I want in a pair of shorts this season: light wash, ripped, studded, but not too much of any of the above. Plus, I like the flip indecency of an exposed pocket or two.

I call this my secular rosary since the cross fell off. Maybe it was a sign that I shouldn’t be appropriating a sacred relic for fashion.

South By Southwest

I didn’t hit SXSW too hard this year, and I think that’s what made it so pleasant. I spent more time at friends’ houses than at venues this week. I had one hour-plus driving experience within a three mile radius, with suicidal pedestrians outnumbering parking spots 5,000 to one. I stuck to out-of-the-way venues with free shows that I knew I wanted to see. As a result, I made it through with more money than I started with, minimal hangovers, and some semblance of rejuvenation to start this week.

I got photographed for the Urban Outfitters blog. I wasted this little moment of style exposure on nearly the same outfit as my other, uh, press. At least I can say I follow my own advice.

This was taken right before I fell in love with Eleanor Friedberger again. I’d seen her play with the Fiery Furnaces before, all scowls and miss-matched clothes, flying through the awkward lyrics as if auctioning off absurdity. Seeing her alone with her accoustic guitar doing some songs off Last Summer cemented my opinion that she can tell touching, authentic stories that are just as interesting without the bells and whistles of Fiery Furnace songs.

Some other bands:

Best Coast

My friend used a little deception and a few connections to sneak us past a huge line of grouchy teenagers to see this show. We caught the last few songs. It was exactly what I expected, except I expected the free beer to not have run out.

The Strange Boys

So good. Everyone seemed happy to be crammed together under the disco ball for this experience.

Light Asylum

I was resistant to this harsh Brooklyn duo. It seemed designed for eardrum assault, and it was not a good match for a sunny afternoon under a tent. Between songs, Shannon Funchess quit singing like an opera understudy of doom to plug their new album too much and make vague quasi-political statements. But if I said I didn’t do a bit of dancing it would be a lie.

Grimes

Okay, fine, Pitchfork. I’m becoming the stereotypical girl who’s entranced by Grimes. Visions is a refreshing album, and she performs that music like a damn MAGICIAN. She was sick during the show I saw, but hit her signature high notes as best as she could. She’s like a riot grrl for 2012, although she has a totally different sound, audience, etc. It’s in the way that she shrieks instead of crooning, performs like Lykke Li but runs her own show (instead of just banging the occasional drum), and dresses like a 10-year-old without parents. She’s that geeky girl you really should have sat next to in the middle school cafeteria.

Psychic Ills/ Crocodiles

Man, I don’t know. The beer was free.

For Those About to Rock

Photo by Thomas Allison

Albertus Swanepoel for Target hat – Urban Outfitters top – Forever 21 bustier – vintage necklace – Target belt – vintage shorts

Jessica Lee (of Sparkle and Stripes)  kindly featured me in an article about South by Southwest style for The Daily Texan, our university’s newspaper.

I’ll be working a lot during SXSW, but at least I’ll be just a block away from the free, back lot shows at UO. Can’t wait to see the lovely Eleanor Friedberger and Grimes on Saturday. So many choices, so little time. 

One Fine Evening: Bill Callahan Starts Apocolypse Tour

A Bill Callahan audience is respectful. A few strums of his guitar and the Mohawk crowd of his fellow Austinites silenced itself to gaze onward, rapt. He opened with “Riding for the Feeling” and flowed through nearly as many songs from 2009’s “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle” as the new album he was kicking off the tour for, “Apocalypse.” The band seated behind him on the outdoor stage carefully kept up with his songs’ copious tempo changes as Callahan sang them, clad in an all-black suit like Johnny Cash (with the bass vocals and chugging train rhythms to match).

The set was interrupted only by a few “HO!!!!”s and loud beats carrying down the street from Emo’s, where hip-hop group Atmophere was playing the same night. Slug was not rapt; he just rapped.

Callahan’s audience did some whooping and hollering of its own during “America!,” his ode to our “grand and golden” country. Maybe they were digging the way the pace speeds and the guitars rev up, but it probably had more to do with TV news playing mute above the bar, still plastered with headlines: US Kills Bin Laden. He subtly inserted Pakistan into the lyrics’ list of targeted countries.

Photo by Chris Taylor

Tunes from “Woke on a Whale Heart” were ignored entirely, but luckily he closed and encored with Smog favorites off “A River Ain’t Too Much to Love.”

At first, it’s hard to see the benefits of hearing the songwriter live. The music, too substantial and genuine to call for any stage theatrics, is performed so true to the recordings. And his albums are so warm, and recorded so perfectly that you get as familiar with his voice as with a good friend’s. But his careful control over the songs is impressive in itself, and his perpetually  twisted facial expressions show how enveloped he is within them.

In an interview with The Rumpus, Callahan said that each show is like building a new city with the audience in the space of an hour. Last night’s “city” was a peaceful one on the outskirts of a metropolis with a big hip-hop scene. Its structures were built in spite of the threat of wildfires, budget cuts, and tornado season. The climate was colder and darker than surrounding regions, and the good people held fast to a set of common values. There was only one village idiot pumping his fist in the air. And, of course, it was in America.