South by Southwest: The Rest Stop

Alan Jay Sufrin and Miriam Brosseau form Stereo Sinai, a self-described “biblegum pop” band based in Chicago, IL. This week, however, they’re taking it below the Mason-Dixon to report live on the Jewish happenings at South by Southwest, the nation’s largest music festival in Austin, Texas. In the first entry, they saw Mirah and met the Sway Machinery; in the second report, they checked out the underground Iranian hip-hop scene and got into the Shabbos spirit.

Here’s the final of three locational reports — okay, and gossip — straight from the country’s biggest collection of concerts.

ezra furmanSaturday morning, after taking a quick walking tour of the Texas capital building where everything from the chandeliers to the door hinges declare the proud state’s name, we hit up the Birthright Israel NEXT/JDub showcase, “Rest Stop†— a show by Jews that was intentionally held on Shabbat.

And a rest stop it certainly was. With the hectic, crazy, nonstop action of SXSW, the value of a laid-back Jewish music event called “Rest Stop†held on the Day of Rest was not lost on us. And what was everyone talking about? Iranian death metal. Half of the bands playing that afternoon had been at the show the night before. Not only was this even more validating for us, but now the two awkward shomer Shabbat people could finally sit at the cool kids’ table.

monotonixThe show, featuring three of the same acts that performed at the previous JDub showcase, was remarkable. This new atmosphere, with the chill in the vibe and the cool breezes, the free bagel-and-lox lunch and full open bar, the lawn furniture and patio dance floor, lent itself perfectly to creative license for the artists. Most even strayed from their original setlists (including DeLeon’s cover of TarantisT’s “More bass!†sound-check song).

But it was definitely more about the crowd this time than the audience. People from all walks of life, Jews and non-Jews alike, from redneck Texans who’d never even seen lox before (and loved it) to Israeli expats and their children, came to enjoy the respite. Even the volume of the music was turned down from the SXSW standard ‘eleven’ to a refreshing ‘ten.’