Live Music, Local Music, Photography, SXSW 2010

SXSW 2010: Gay Witch Abortion at Obsolete Industries (with Grant Hart and Tom Hazelmyer)

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Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Gay Witch Abortion (Jesse Bottomley on guitar, Shawn Walker on drums) performing with Grant Hart (of Hüsker Dü) and Tom Hazelmyer (of Halo Of Flies) – billed as a “strange clusterfuck collaboration with Grant Hart/Gay Witch Abortion/Halo Of Flies” – at Obsolete Industries in Austin, Texas as part of the Neo Obsolete Post Nasal Surrealistic Carnage gallery show featuring art by Burlesque of North America, Broken Crow, Haze XXL, Grant Hart.

More photos of the gallery show, music and gathered musicians after the break…

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As I sat in my makeshift office I got a text message from a friend: “Do you want to go shoot Gay Witch Abortion & Grant Hart with us in 30 minutes?” Before I knew it I was in a cab with Ben and Andrea rolling off to points unknown in East Austin, talking music with a jovial (if a bit cynical) cab driver, and wondering what came next. When we arrived we found ourselves at Obsolete Industries, a purveyor of fine custom screenprints in Austin.

The outside wall was, like most open walls in Austin, plastered with posters advertising shows or films, most altered with flies pasted on top. The front room and front hall of their building were transformed into galleries showing off some impressive Broken Crow, OX-OP/Haze XXL, Burlesque of North America and Grant Hart creations.

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While wandering around there was a sense that, indeed, live music would be forthcoming although there wasn’t any real assurance of that aside from the PA setup. There was no stage in the room but in the front were two windows – one covered over in translucent paper allowing for shadows to be cast and the other set up with a projection screen. The projection screen featured maddening “demo mode” video from a camcorder precariously positioned in the neighboring (but off limits) performance space, allowing us a vague image of the performers as they first fiddled with instruments for awhile then, eventually, melted our brains with randomly spaced out performances of several songs for each collaboration.

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Once the music was complete the crowd wandered around the building. Ben (a gentleman and a scholar) was kind enough to procure some Lone Stars while Andrea attended to a long and winding interview with Grant. Once business was complete we got a few shots of the assembled luminaries, chatted for a bit, and sought a cab back to civilization (the 6th and Red River area was many, many of blocks cold walking away).

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All in all it was an amazingly unexpected experience and the first time I had been introduced to this particular slice of Twin Cities culture. It won’t be the last time I seek out the works of these artists, for sure. Thanks to Ben and Andrea for roping me into it!

Images were shot for and used in a City Pages article, in print and online: http://www.citypages.com/2010-03-24/news/sxsw-2010-twin-cities-bands-head-to-austin-for-a-week-of-music-and-mayhem/

Check out a slideshow on Flickr or see individual images from the set below:

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