With its late hours (open until 3 AM on weekends), Halcyon
is the quintessential coffee bar in downtown Austin, popular at any time, and stuffed to overflowing during South By Southwest. Its location near many of the music venues is part of the attraction, as is its menu, featuring everything from smores and other desserts to breakfast sandwiches and paninis. They play great music too, if you can hear it, but Halcyon is almost always crowded and always noisy, even at 2 AM. But that’s a lot of the fun, as you begin to realize that everybody had the same idea you did…to hit up Halcyon after the last showcases were over.
Halcyon Austin Coffee Bar and Lounge
218 W. 4th Street
Austin, TX 78701
People in Louisiana believe in something called “lagniappe”, a tradition of giving the customer a little something extra, or a bonus to thank you for your patronage. Those of us at the bounce showcase on the Average Rooftop at South By Southwest got a bit of lagniappe on Friday night in the form of an unexpected appearance by the Queen of Bounce herself, Katey Redd
. Katey Red began her career on the groundbreaking Take Fo Records
label, the same label which launched the career of bounce pioneer DJ Jubilee. She is best known for her debut album Melpomene Block Party
(the Melpomene is another former housing project in New Orleans that was demolished after Katrina), and has more recently been featured in several episodes of the television series Treme
It was 10th Ward Buck that was the headliner of the showcase at the Avenue on Congress rooftop, and he was the first performer of the night that I had actually heard of. In recent years, he has been something of an activist for his hometown of New Orleans and the bounce music movement, writing a book called The Definition of Bounce
and running unsuccessfully for a seat on New Orleans’ City Council. He also ran a hot wing restaurant in Uptown New Orleans for a period of time, but New Orleans is a competitive restaurant market, and the difficulties of running a restaurant can interfere with a music career as well. Buck’s performance was charismatic, and featured the usual contingent of female dancers on stage.
Magnolia Rhome’s performance was followed by an act named Big Chu and the Crew, which I had also never heard of. But they were decent bounce artists as well, and the dancing crew that was on stage with them stole the show.
When I got to the Avenue on Congress rooftop, Magnolia Rhome was on stage. I really wasn’t familiar with him, but that is not surprising, because in New Orleans, bounce artists are like brass bands- there’s a lot more of them than you think there are, and new ones are coming out all the time. And the name “Magnolia” has got to be one of the most common names for New Orleans rappers- the huge Magnolia projects were torn down almost 8 years ago, but the past never dies in New Orleans, where legacies of Uptown and Downtown and old wards persist, and where people still claim the projects years after they were demolished, because the projects were not so much a place in geography, but rather a place in the human spirit that lives forever in those who lived there. At any rate, Magnolia Rhome wasn’t bad at all, although there’s little variety in the bounce genre, not that its fans want there to be. If you’re a bounce fan, you want the Triggaman beat or the Brown beat, and you want the MC to exhort the crowd just enough so that the females will twerk. Yes, twerking is the ultimate goal of all good bounce music. And Magnolia Rhome got them twerking, both on stage and in the crowd. That’s really what it’s all about.
When I left the Austin Convention Center, I walked down Sixth Street, trying to see if any street musicians were out performing, but there wasn’t a lot going on other than huge crowds of people. So I decided to head over to the Avenue on Congress where there was supposed to be a bounce music showcase going on.
After being somewhat perturbed at the Hot 8 Brass Band
performance the other evening which had been marred by the comedian, I was thrilled at the opportunity to see them again at the SXSW Hackathon Championships, not having to share the stage with anyone else. There was a still a smaller crowd than there should have been for this concert, but at least those that were there began to get a little more lively and involved as the Hot 8 played. After all, it’s impossible to resist the grooves of New Orleans-style brass band music.
I suppose I had vaguely heard of the Magnetic Zeros
before, but I certainly had never heard any of their music, and probably wouldn’t have made a point of going to see them if they hadn’t been on the same showcase line-up with the Hot 8 Brass Band. That being said, I was both impressed and amazed with the performance by Magnetic Zeros’ drummer Crash and other members of the band informally playing at the SXSW Hackathon. The songs were melodic and showed the influence of a number of American roots genres of music. Again, I was disappointed at how empty the hall was given how great the music was.
I didn’t quite know what a Hackathon is, but when I saw that the Hot 8 Brass Band
was scheduled to perform at the Hackathon at the Austin Convention Center, I walked over there after dinner. Unfortunately, not a lot of people had chosen to come to the concert, despite its being free, and the upstairs ballroom was sparsely filled. Albert Hammond Jr
was on stage, and he was not happy at all. “This is why South By Southwest should not be allowed to have a hackathon”, he yelled from the stage shortly after I got there.
The Mooonshine Patio Bar and Grill
becomes insanely busy during South By Southwest, and a lot of it is due to its location, literally across Red River Street from the Austin Convention Center. It’s not surprising that wait times can reach an hour or more, but since I had never eaten there in all my years of going to Austin for SXSW, I decided to put my name in and wait for a table. My friend Travis was still at the Complex Magazine showcase a block away, and I was hoping he would join me when he left there, but the wait for a table was about an hour and a half. That being said, I didn’t mind it at all. I could sit outdoors on the porch, the weather was sunny and comfortable, watching the people coming and going down the street was fun, and there turned out to be an electric outlet in the flower bed, so I was able to charge my phone, which I badly needed to do. The wait proved to be shorter than I was told, and I was soon seated at a comfortable table. Moonshine Patio specializes in Southern food, but in an upscale sort of way, and a lot of items on the menu looked good. I ultimately opted for the southern fried chicken and waffles, and was very pleased with my choice. I was also pleased with the service, which could have gotten erratic given the crowd of diners the restaurant was dealing with, but everything was correct and prompt. The bill wasn’t bad either, considering how good the food was. I left happy and satisfied, walking across the street to the Convention Center for the Hackathon Awards concert.
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
303 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78701