By Don Simpson | January 18, 2011
Director: Jason Buim aka Jay Buim
Writers: Jay Buim, Otto Arsenault, Taylor Cohen
Starring: Todd Patrick aka Todd P, (Bands) Matt and Kim, Dan Deacon, Mika Miko, The Death Set, Best Fwends, Juiceboxxx, High Places, Team Robespierre, The So So Glows, Telepathe, Ninjasonik, Ponytail, Japanther
Ever since I was a teenager, I have always preferred to experience live music performances in non-traditional spaces. Some of my favorite performances of all time have been in VFW halls, fire stations, random college buildings, churches, private homes, backyards, neighborhood parks, and parking lots; and most of my least favorite performances have been in huge arena settings. I never really thought too much about the psychology of this trend; but if Jay Buim’s documentary Todd P Goes to Austin is successful in doing one thing, it definitely captures the allure of experiencing live music in unconventional locations.
Brooklyn music promoter Todd Patrick (the titular Todd P) is best known for organizing DIY indie shows in seemingly random make-shift venues in Brooklyn (Silent Barn, Market Hotel, Monster Island, and Shea Stadium); he is also known for his yearly unofficial SXSW parties at the East Austin non-venue Ms. Bea’s. Todd P Goes to Austin follows Todd P and his cohort of bands to Austin for his SXSW party in March 2008 — in the interest of full disclosure, Todd P Goes to Austin actually takes place over the course of two SXSW’s (2008 & 2009).
Each band travels in their own van, on their own route, and armed with their own video camera to record everything, a technique that lends Todd P Goes to Austin the perspective of multiple indie rock tour diaries that have been edited together. To keep with Todd P’s punk rock aesthetic (all a band needs is a shitty stage and shitty PA, no roadies necessary), each band plays gigs in various make-shift venues along their route to Texas. All of the recorded performances are borderline chaos with no defined boundaries between the musicians and the crowds. The energy, craziness, and dancing are all amped up to at least 11. (Of course we will never know if the fans were intentionally hyped up because of the camera’s presence.) In between cities, the bands face the many trials and tribulations of traveling across the United States in crappy old vans.
One might assume that a documentary titled Todd P Goes to Austin would be more about Todd P himself; and while he does have a few opportunities to wax philosophically on the age old question of “What is good music?” (answer: something new, exciting, fun, and provocative), this film is more about the musical chaos that Todd P orchestrates. Just like at any of the shows he organizes, Todd P is the magician behind the curtain; he never attempts to steal the limelight away from the musicians.
Todd P Goes to Austin features some amazing live performances by Matt and Kim, Mika Miko, The Death Set and others; all of which bring us back to the question of what makes live music performed in unconventional locations so much more damn fun? For whatever reason, the uniqueness of the space seems to add to the rawness, the anarchy, the adrenaline, the fun, the energy, the ecstasy…Todd P has learned how to capture this better than most and Jay Buim’s documentary captures the results.
Todd P Goes to Austin is now available on DVD. For more information go to: www.toddpgoestoaustin.com