Austin, or at least what I have seen of it so far, is a terribly dispiriting place. It didn't help that I arrived during a near-torrential rainstorm. But the city itself feels joyless, empty. Before heading out to where I'm staying (at a friend's, a ways out of town) I drove straight to the site for the event on Friday -- the corner of 6th and Lamar -- and was struck by how bland and suburban even this "downtown" intersection felt. The record store, which incongruously seems to have some sort of brewpub attached & affiliated, is catty-corner from a gargantuan Whole Foods supermarket that I have since learned is the largest in the world. So before you come to protest, you can stock up on pricey organic prepared foods.
Compounding my bad mood was the Peter Bjorn and John album, which (ill-advisedly) I had decided to play as I drove in, so I could hone my argument and focus my mind for leading this campaign. That it did: I had disliked the album on my few initial listens, but I was struck on my re-listen in the car at how poorly the songs wore on me. All the phony slapped-on sounds are so apparent: "Start to Melt," which is lame faux Guided by Voices; "Paris 2004," which is lame faux Wilco; "Objects of my Affection," which is some wack-ass lo-fi Proclaimers shit. Even "Amsterdam," the one track that I had begrudgingly enjoyed somewhat on my first few listens, came off as hollow and cloying.
Fortunately, though, all storms must pass, and all albums must end. The rain let up, finally, just about the same time that the nightmare of Peter Bjorn and John yielded to something more pleasurable. (To the next track on my iTunes, alphabetically by artist: "Freek-a-Leek," by the inestimable Petey Pablo & company.) Now, after settling in at my friend's place and enjoying a fine Shiner beer, I have nearly forgotten the heartache of a few hours earlier.
Anyway, more tomorrow -- can't wait to see all of you here.