A Boring True Taco Land Story
By Some Bay Area Pussy
When: Sunday, April 21, 2002
Who's Playing: Sidney + Maxwell Horse
Ram Factor: Stupid Pussies
We had breakfast at Manita's for the second time, and saw Richard Linklater ("Rick" to Austinians - EJ pointed out a lot of "Slacker" sites around town) and Patricia Arquette dining there too. Afterward I had to be boring and worked in a coffeeshop for the rest of the afternoon - they played nothing but Concrete Blonde all day, which made it much more bearable. EJ and AT went to a river outside of Austin and canoed and swum - dammit, I really, really should have
left my work at home, I hate missing the opportunity to see what's outside of the cities we pop in and out of.
We stopped for yet another installment of great Mexican food - we thought we'd just get takeout and eat it on the road, but it took 30 minutes for the food, then we had to eat it while parked in the lot because there was so much of it in such big containers. Should have just sat down to eat. Duh.
Around sunset we pointed the van in the direction of home and drove an easy hour to San Antone (as immortalized in dozens of country songs - rhymes well with "alone", as in "you left me all…", a ubiquitous topic). Tacoland looks like a bomb shelter, and is located in the middle of what must be a very tolerant residential area. It has a concrete patio to match the concrete block walls, and offers absolutely no creature comforts except some battered red booths scattered around, and a single toilet which is accessible only from the patio. (When the owner informed us that, to go to the bathroom, we should just "go outside, walk around the tree, and pee", there was no doubt in my mind that we'd be urinating in the scrubby forest that bordered a creek outside. What he meant was that the door could be found hidden behind a tree that arched over the place…but I would have believed anything). Our hearts sank as we saw the lack of monitors, and it was an additional bummer to see no evidence of tacos, either.
Having spent four nights in Texas already, we believed our soundperson when he told us that people show up late, so the opener didn't start until 11. We all just hung out in the red booths, drinking our bottled water, writing in journals and listening to various tributes to Tacoland from the jukebox - at some point, someone was moved enough to put together a compilation of songs dedicated to this, um, modest venue.
The opening act was a fella named Sidney, and played a brilliant set of solo numbers with a heavy quotient of the bizarre. He broke strings on both of his acoustics so I loaned him my backup Strat - very interesting to hear one's own instrument played by someone else. I was actually glad for the opportunity to establish some semblance of rapport with him, if no one else, because the joint was populated only with a handful of what were obviously regulars, and fans of rocking-yet-sensitive indie rock they sure didn't seem to be. Sidney finished up to great applause - this is pretty much the only place he plays, he told us later, and he's kinda perfect for the environs - and I went through a nice mime routine of approaching the mic, getting a massive shock, retreating to flip a ground switch or change a plug, then repeating from step one. Finally I got the right combination to ensure my continued existence and we began the most trouble-plagued set ever. Halfway through our second tune, my sound suddently disappeared. I finished the tune acapella, switched guitars, and a few seconds into the next tune it happened again. I bypassed everything but a distortion pedal and launched into the tune again, and it held together just long enough to leave me stranded, mute and sweating, on the next tune. We took a break to try to resolve things, and after five minutes of established what I thought was a consistent sound, things died again. I finally ended up using my backup guitar straight into my second amp, my least favorite combination, all tinny and dry without any distortion whatsoever. On top of my sound problems, all the guitars were going out of tune instantly, and the glares from my bandmates indicated that they wished I'd fully electrocuted myself on the first note instead of putting them through this. All the regulars were playing pool or outside on the patio, except for Sidney and his girlfriend who had long ceased bothering to clap.
We finally called it quits and high-tailed it for an IHOP where we drowned our sorrows in well-fried breakfast specials.