It’s a dangerous thing, when Saturday night at SXSW collides with St. Patrick’s Day – the intense festival drinking crowd and an intense Austin Saturday night drinking crowd and St. Patrick’s Day revelers crowd into the same spaces and commence drinking…intensely. By the time The Mynabirds loaded in for our final 2012 SXSW set Saturday night at a Sixth St. club called Peckerheads, the club, the street and the surrounding environs were swarmed with swaying celebrators. With fresh eyes, the scene probably seems exciting and interesting. After several days of cramped load-ins and crazy schedules and minimal sleep, St. Patrick’s Day at South By Southwest feels just a little – to be kind – overwhelming.
Inside Peckerheads, it was particularly so. A packed room before a show is rarely something to complain about, but as we tried to shove a bunch of heavy stuff through a non-responding crowd of glassy-eyed folks hoisting overfull mason jars, festival burnout certainly lurched. Late-night parties like this bring in a mixed group overall – some are fest-goers whose attendance is purposeful, other folks just roll in with the intent of enjoying the tail-end SXSW parties offering free drinks and food, no badge or wristband required, and don’t care much who’s playing. It’s hard to tell whether the folks in the room will be glad to take in whatever soundtrack you’re offering, or just irritated that you’re interrupting their conversations with music.
We’d had a great festival already. Our day party performances were well-attended and warm, the crowd at our Friday night label showcase offered one of those embraces that fuel you through those random, mellow-to-indifferent Monday night shows on tour. Peckerheads on Saturday night could’ve brought our fest experience to a fizzle, or, worse, slapped on a dark piece of punctuation. We’ve been a lucky band, though, and even if the night seemed a little ominous at the outset, we left SXSW 2012 happy and hopeful.
Staff folks at the club were kind and helpful, even after days of festival insanity, and if the kids in the club weren’t up for more live music, they certainly hid it well. We’ve been sharing songs from our new album, Generals, and the title track includes a call-and-response bit that benefits from a little crowd participation. “What you want?” our singer Laura Burhenn offers up in part of it, to which the crowd, ideally, calls out, “Love.” She prepped the room for singing together, and as the break rolled in, the room buzzed with a big, loud gang chant: “Love.” It’s a good word, particularly when it’s exclaimed by a room full of folks who’re showing it as they’re saying it. And it’s a good note on which to leave an overwhelming, and for us, overwhelmingly positive festival.