SXSW 2009: Still Flyin' Triumph Despite 4:1 Band-to-Audience Ratio

You could probably join this band if you wanted. More pics below.
You could probably join this band if you wanted. More pics below.

Mere hours after joining an awestruck cast of thousands to celebrate the imminent release of Guitar Hero: Metallica, we encounter the exact same level of glorious exuberance, offstage and on, with roughly 1 percent of the people. Gleefully anarchic Bay Area ska outfit Still Flyin' are a double-digital ensemble playing to not much more than a double-digit crowd at 1:30 a.m. at the Independent, a venue represented in our official pocket venue guide by a rather intimidating map of I-35, though it's only like two blocks from "the action." But crowded as close to the stage as possible, regarding a whirling dervish of dancers, horn players, amateur cowbell enthusiasts, and backup singers, the effect is just as transcendent as "Sanitarium" was, anthemic malevolence swapped out for outrageously catchy odes to -- well, I'm not clear exactly, but weed and beer are prominently involved.

To this end there is the Guru, who starts the set at the foot of the stage, ensconced in a makeshift pink tent and blasting a smoke machine at his bandmates, until the tent collapses after one song and he settles for stalking the rear of the stage and distributing beers to his bandmates via a fanny-pack device that can hold five brew-dogs at a time at least. Later in the set he goes back to the smoke machine. The one about the ghost town is a highlight. Everyone leaves ridiculously happy.

SXSW 2009: Still Flyin' Triumph Despite 4:1 Band-to-Audience Ratio
The Guru prepares to strike.
The Guru prepares to strike.
He strikes.
He strikes.

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