HIGHlights of SXSW 2005

Kissing Billy IdolKissing Billy IdolEach year Austin, Texas hosts its annual SXSW (South by Southwest) Music Festival, drawing thousands of bands and music lovers from all over the world to come play, party and get their toke on. This year’s line-up included both the well-known ganja-lovin’ rockers from the 70s and 80s, as well as an onslaught of music that ought to be introduced to every stoner’s collection.
It was the jungle of people and parties that lasted from noon each day until sun-up, the taxi rides from club to club and the smell of Texas BBQ mingled with clouds of sensi that made my first trip to Austin overflow with memorable highs.

DubtexDubtexAs it turns out, Billy Idol is still alive, and might I add looking better than ever. Rocking out in his traditional black leather and spikes, Idol was in Austin promoting the upcoming release of his new CD, Devil’s Playground. “I do love smoking grass, I have to admit.” He told Cannabis Culture during a press conference. “It gives me a bit of a down beat, ya know.” His absolutely radiant and vibrant energy was a contagious high, both during his interview and throughout his show at Stubbs later that night.

The “Golden God” himself, Robert Plant, performed to a psychedelic new sound and promoted Mighty Rearranger, due to release on May 10th. I was swept back in time to the days when my room was lined with Led Zeppelin black-light posters and snaking incense smoke masking the smell of swag from my parents. Amid the time warp, a hypnotic fog was being passed from fan to fan, while Plant grinded his hips and shook his golden locks to Whole Lotta Love.

DubtexIf you haven’t yet heard of Dubtex, let me be the first to introduce you to this righteous reggae band. Their CD, Bayou Bush Burners, was one of the best things to land in my lap during the festival. “Cannabis Culture is in the house!” Ferenj Wande hollered into the mic, and the crowd went crazy. Wande was inspired to light up on stage, giving full reggae glory to the mighty herb. A flawless mixture of serious musicians who like to party, the Dubtex performance was elevated to the highest level.

DubtexThe Asylum Street Spankers are a local Austin tradition, and with songs like Wake and Bake and Amsterdam, they are also a pot-lover’s favorite. ASS wailed for a very stoned crowd at the Vibe, inciting hoops, hollers and blunt passing amid the party hosted by High Times. “Hey baby, stop your foolin’/ And pass that over here to me/ You just hold on to it daddy/ And you’re already high as you can be,” chimed Christina Mars. Accompanied by steel guitar, musical saw, banjo and ukulele, ASS was an instant crowd pleaser.

As the haze of those five days drifts from my head, I can hardly believe that the week is over. I’m already planning my trek back to Austin next March, and I’m calling all cannabis and music lovers to join me. We can room at the Hilton together and simultaneously celebrate each day at 4:20, Austin style.