Aftermath: Free Food, Free Beer, Great Music, No Audience At Super Happy Fun Land's SXSW Overflow Fest

Austin's Spells

Videos by Matthew Keever

On Sunday night at a sleepy Super Happy Fun Land, the SXSW overflow concerts went relatively unnoticed. Although the fans were scarce, the talent wasn't.

In front of less than 20 people - five or so of whom were sleeping - the likes of Girls at Dawn, Wizzard Sleeve and Gift Horse put on noteworthy performances. However, when backup singers are louder than the lead vocals, harmonies can get lost in the mix. And we'd like all independent artists to take note: When you're performing, please tell the audience your band's name. And do it early. It's hard to constructively critique you (or even just tell you that we really enjoyed your set) when we don't know who you are.

The Overflow is a place for artists going to and coming from Austin who need gigs as well as local acts who, for whatever reason, couldn't book the gargantuan festival in Austin. Super Happy Fun Land has taken upon itself the task of bringing South by to Houston. Although the act is noble, the employees there can't do it alone. Other local venues need to get involved in this project.

The boys from Floating Action (above), a folk-ish rock band from North Carolina, took a song to find their groove but once they found it, they kept it. The crowd stayed small - and yes, more people fell asleep - but the bands, for as much as their performances went pretty unseen, seemed to be having a good time.

The free chili was fantastic; it was Southern and spicy, meaty and full of jalapenos. We dropped a few dollars into the food fund, gulped down our helping and spent the next hour chugging water and RC Cola.

While we were there, we ran into Blaine of 10th Grade for Cutie. He said that he'd rather spend all week at SHFL than visit Austin. His preference for H-Town to the ATX, he said, is because our city is dangerous.

"When I walk around Third Ward, I'm sizing people up," Blaine said, his black bangs almost covering his half-open eyes. "When I'm in Austin, I see people walking around with their laptops... [10th Grade Cutie is] going to bring the dirty, Houston grunge to Austin."

According to the band's Web site, they are visiting Austin but have still not confirmed a show. On the band's MySpace, under 'Upcoming Shows,' it reads: "I'm sure something will happen at SXSW. It might be a show but it'll probably be one of us getting arrested for throwing bottles at bands we don't like." So there you have it. Makes sense, right?

Austin natives Spells took the stage next, and we kept a close eye on Blaine to make sure he didn't rush the stage and tackle the poor guys just for being Austinites. At first, we thought Spells was going a bit overboard with the delay effect on its singer's voice. Then, the band performed its finale, "Young Math," and we were convinced otherwise.

There seems to be a lack of salience for music in our fair city, the end result of which is that kids will be kids and play their music loud and proud, even if no one is listening. After about four and a half hours, we got tired and left. The music Sunday, overall, was great. The atmosphere was chill. The food (and the beer) was free.

And the place was empty... so we have one question for you, Houston: Why aren't you listening?

Overflow Fest continues nightly at Super Happy Fun Land through March 25. See www.superhappyfunland.com for details.


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