Even if you're not stuffing your dirty laundry into a duffel bag so you can scurry off to the airport in the tiny hours of tomorrow and begin a cyclonic journey of watching bands you could see here at almost any given moment except that you're in Texas, the festival phenomenon remains ever present in the intimate canon of a person who does stuff. So we wrote a guide that's basically an ode to festivals, and it's full of interviews with old pros. You'll find the actual
Vice Guide to Festivals
once you get to Austin, but since you're not there yet we'll run some of it over here for you to enjoy. And hey, we'll start it off with a bonus interview with Matt Sweeney, because, as we just mentioned, he's playing tonight with Nathan Bell.
Vice: Do you see that bands are forced into participating in festivals for fear that doors will close for them if they traverse a festival-free career?
A band should feel great about what they're doing, and festivals have a way of humiliating unknown bands. The most depressed I've ever been is when Chavez had to play at South by Southwest. I wanted to cut off my hands.
What's your opinion re: how SXSW and CMJ have adapted or changed over the years?
I had fun at CMJ when I was a kid, which was well before the Interweb. It was fun seeing Byron Coley talk. Maybe the kids still have fun.
Let's say that you ran afoul of the law, and a judge offered you a deal: "You must pick a festival and play it for free, during the 1 PM Friday slot, while wearing a t-shirt that says I'M HERE FOR THE BLOW JOB and exclusively playing a set of Stuck Mojo covers," which festival would you pick because there'd be absolutely no possibly of running into anyone or being seen by anyone?
They are all the same, so I'd play all of them. Total humiliation.
Give me your fantasy/dream lineup for a festival for which you're booked to play. (Name which Sweeney incarnation/band/project you'd want it to be, too.)
God, I don't know if I have the imagination for this. I've had fun playing Roadburn with Current 93, and Greenman with Superwolf (lots of mind-altering substances and good friends involved in both cases). And eating food and watching videos with Endless Boogie in one of the hovels provided by ATP was a sweet time. Hanging with friends at Kreuz's BBQ (45 minutes from Austin) during SXSW. Maybe some kind of fun physical exercise, action-paintball or something like that. Four-wheelers, horses, gun range. And Chavez could present a slide show about our fun times in the 90s. Or there should be like a master set list that bands are required to use, including these songs: "Free Ride" by Edgar Winter Group, Van Halen's "Panama," most of the Steve Miller catalogue, Aerosmith jams from Toys in the Attic and Rocks, etc.
Do you think we'll ever see a day when they feature wild-card/roadside/sensational entertainment like live sharks in tanks or dance marathons à la They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Or a return of the Jim Rose Circus sideshow?
Yes. It'd be cool to see more circus-geek-type shit for sure.
(photo way up at the top by Rebecca Smeyne)