One of the Brooklyn-based bands down in Austin for SXSW this week is My Brightest Diamond. Nate from the band has been keeping a tour diary for us, check out his first installment below.



Three days before flying out from NY to Austin for the South by Southwest music conference, I had a rather ominous dream. It was the sort of dream you wake up from panicked and not quite sure of your surroundings, perhaps in a cold sweat and a bit disheveled. I dreamt that when I arrived at the festival, the location had been switched from Austin, Texas, to Iraq. Yes, Iraq - that little blip on the radar screen of world affairs.

I asked my colleagues sheepishly, "This is South by Southwest, right? But I thought it was in Texas....this looks more like....IRAQ? Or am I just in the wrong place?" Around me were roadblocks, bombed out buildings and skeletons of charred cars, and hundreds of hipsters walking the streets as if everything was completely normal.

I arrived here in Austin yesterday to find that my dream was not really that far off. Of course, I'm yet to see a car bomb go off; there has been no sign of an AK-47 or a rocket-propelled grenade (even though I have seen my fair share of NRA bumper stickers). And as far as I know, Austin is free from any pesky insurgency standing in the way of normalcy and order. But this place is undoubtedly what I would call the Mecca (excuse the Islamic imagery) of hipsterdom. The streets have been closed to traffic, allowing throngs of punks, indie chicks, metal dudes, and acoustic-guitar toting troubadours to run free and unmolested through this beautiful city.

Standing in line for security at LaGuardia, the passengers flying to Austin for this orgiastic feast of music might as well have been wearing space helmets. Even the usual security mantras seemed altered to accomodate: "Please remove all shoes, jackets, facial piercings and spikey arm bands before stepping through." Luckily, my friend Adam, who plays guitar in two of the other projects I play in, The Kiss-Off and The High Class Elite, was on my flight. We chatted about our expectations of the weekend for a while before boarding our flight, which was totally packed. There was even a high school soccer team on the flight, a sight that immediately made me think of the movie "Alive." I shook off my fears and fell asleep for an hour, only to be awakened by a rather disturbing announcement from the cockpit. In his monotone voice, the pilot made a request for a doctor to please volunteer and report to seat 17B. Upon hearing this, every passenger perked up with a morbid curiosity. Apparently some woman had passed out and could not be revived.

This is a scenario I've heard about, but never witnessed firsthand. Instead of an M.D. proper, a dentist and a nurse came to check on the woman, who had a pulse and was still breathing but had peed herself. Adam was one seat behind her, so he reported these details to me later. Luckily, we landed without incident in Dallas and made our connecting flight to Austin.

This was a rough commute, to say the least. Once I was settled in around 5pm, I surveyed the territory with a somewhat scientific eye. It's a very different world down here. It's as if someone airlifted a 2 square mile section of Williamsburg from Bedford Ave to Graham Ave and dropped it in the middle of Austin, providing booze, music, and questionable street cuisine.

The first show I saw was "Dirty Projectors" at a venue called Mohawk, featuring my good friend Angel, who plays with me in the band INLETS. Dirty Projectors is one of Pitchfork's top-ten SXSW choices, and they flat-out blew me away. Their singer belts like a more manic and exuberant version of the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, supported by frenetic drums and driving, odd-beat rhythms. Angel played bass and sang backups along with guitar player Amber, providing a beautifully contrasting melodic backdrop behind the other-wordly lead voice.

After the show we ate some dinner and I parted company to check out the band Vietnam at Bourbon Rocks. Here, I met with a couple of buds, and continued my determined survey of this mad mad world. Vietnam was good, but not altogether amazing. After this, I made my last stop to see my boss in My Brightest Diamond, Shara Worden. She played a haunting solo set at the Asthmatic Kitty Records showcase, and as per usual, was amazing.

All in all, this was an exhausting first day here. Luckily, I paced myself and didn't get too piss-drunk to remember most of it. Tonight, My Brightest Diamond will play at 10pm at Antone's, and I am looking forward to it greatly. If all goes as planned, I will survive this weekend and return home and awaken from this whacky, all-too-hip dream. It's WAY better than being in Iraq.