AUSTIN — South by Southwest ended not with a whimper, but a bang. An absurd, drunken bang.
The combination of St. Patrick’s Day, the final evening of South by Southwest activities, and a Saturday night made for explosive potential at Esther’s Follies. Kicking off the evening was a taping of Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack’s Who Charted? podcast, which featured guest Jonah Ray.
The three catered their charts to Texas and Austin; we delved into songs featuring “Texas” in the titles (all country, natch) and the top money-making movies filmed in Austin. So much John Travolta, so little time! I haven’t thought about Phenomenon in forever, but Jonah’s right: what a bad movie.
Exploring the charts ended up being a backdrop to the podcast’s real theme, which was “throwing shit at the audience.” Vilaysack drew continually from a box of Doritos Jacked chips – sponsor shout out! – and chucked bags at unsuspecting audience members.Things began really going off the rails when two awkwardly large piñatas of Dora the Explorer and a blue unicorn were lowered onto the stage and Jonah nabbed a baseball bat to take them to task. I’m not sure what angry demons he was exorcising, but Jonah annihilated both of them, spraying candy and Doritos at the audience and stage.
Eventually, a high-spirited (read: drunk) audience nabbed a bunch of bags of Doritos and began firing them back at Jonah, who defended himself admirably with the bat. I’m not sure if I’d pick him first for a baseball team, but he’d probably be in the top six. Maybe third base.The end result of Doritos Battle Royale 2012 was a stage covered in crumbs and extreme cheese. In one of those “nice showbiz guy” moves, Jonah nabbed a broom from onstage and spent a few minutes following the taping cleaning up the stage.
The crowd was even rowdier for the taping that followed, which was Doug Benson’s The Benson Interruption. Benson was on top of his game, in spite of (or because of?) being “a special kind of drunk.” Joining him tonight was fellow interruptor Brendon Walsh, who has performed onstage 340 times this week.
The drunken revelry on the street and in the club remained the theme of the evening, whether the comics joked about how the scene outside prefigured the plot to Exorcist 2012, a horror film about an entire city that becomes possessed, or whether drunk audience members continually interrupted Benson et al onstage in a loose interpretation of what Benson Interruption actually meant. One particularly vivid description of the debauchery outside came from Benson, who described how a beer truck was trying to drive down Sixth only to be thwarted by a slew of inebriated costumed youths who “pulled a Tiananmen Square on it” and did not let it pass by.
As the show began winding down, I received a text message from my brother that Bill Murray had been spotted at the Spiderhouse Café, a normally quiet hang-out a mere five minutes from my apartment far north of Sixth. That was all the information I needed to hurriedly dodge the yahoos wearing green en route to the bus stop.
Upon arriving, I was surrounded by a throng of sweaty hipsters with weird pants and even weirder facial hair, but Murray was nowhere in sight. I wish I could end my South by Southwest coverage with a climactic tale of my heroic efforts to observe the legend of Murray in real life, but alas, I cannot. My closing message after this week of music, comedy, debauchery, and insanity is thus for Bill Murray: South by Southwest 2013. Me. You. In the immortal words of Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far – I will find you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to sleep for three days. Thanks for reading, kids!