The Starvations

Photo by James BunoanThe Starvations took their whiskey-bottle, slide-guitar punk all the way across the great American desert to big-sky tumbleweedy Texas, and when they got here, they found they were going to play in a parking lot.

Irony is cheap at SXSW; too bad the booze isn't. But it has been that kind of tour. Concrete Blonde opened for them in New Mexico, and while the Starvations waited politely with their equipment by the back door, Concrete Blonde waddled out the front with the crowd and the money. The Starvations ended up playing for their tour mates. Total take: $15.

But Oklahoma was amazing—"I heard y'all, but I ain't heard y'all," said one kid—and they were happy to be in Texas.

"Lone Star is my new favorite cheap beer," says singer/guitarist Gabe Hart. "It's actually got a taste."

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Onstage, he doesn't have much else to say. Back in Orange County, songs like "American Funeral" don't need an introduction; even on the road, they should be self-explanatory. The lightning sparks up by the second song, bassist Jean Paul Garnier barking at the mic, cigarette pasted into the corner of his mouth. A dirty-blond girl (who might be a stripper we met two years ago) yells, "YEAAAAAAAAAAH!" between songs as the timid-for-Texas audience stands quietly, sips a rare beer or two, and claps respectfully. The pasty kids in glasses and their hairstyle dates were probably there for art holocaust the Locust or no wave-flavored Moving Units, not the Starvations' hollow-body hangover blues.

"This is a requiem/This is a swan song," Hart is singing, digging open chords into the fretboard; if his eyes were open, he'd be looking over everyone's heads. "This life is one long night!"

Some people wander in from the street, picking Vanessa Gonzales' accordion solos out of a mess of too-loud rap metal and bar rock. They're from Minnesota; they were supposed to go see another band. They order Lone Stars and stay until the Starvations finish.

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