I have no idea if these kinds of things go through Mercer's head as he sings. Probably more exhausted than any of the rest of us, he walked off stage quickly after the crowd coaxed the band back to perform one final song ("We've never had an encore before," he said), and I didn't get a chance to ask him. Sometimes the motive for art is important, sometimes it isn't.
Periodically throughout the week, the fact that almost everybody at SXSW—including me—was essentially trying to promote themselves got me down, but I guess that's true about life in general, and you can either embrace that as an unavoidable part of humanity or you can rail against it, scream yourself blue in the face and feel disconnected from the lives and feelings of your fellow man. Truth be told, I generally lean toward that frustration and cynicism myself, but I'm working on it and the more I experience the kind of performance that can provoke the catharsis I felt at the end of the weekend, the easier it gets to feel alive and aware and beautiful again, regardless of how upsetting the rest of the world can be. For whatever mysterious reasons, during Frog Eyes' final show of the week, I was able to close my eyes, bob my head and feel like nothing else matters except endless music.