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To SXSW and Back: (Sir) mixing it up in Phoenix

Rusty Maples
Photo: Fred Morledge
Max Plenke

Las Vegas band Rusty Maples is touring its way toward Austin, where official showcases at this year's South by Southwest festival await. Drummer Max Plenke, a journalist who frequently contributes music content for the Weekly, checks in with a series of reports from the road.

Night 1: Arriving in Phoenix Though not so much debauched as intoxicated and fun-loving, Phoenix on a Friday night is what MTV Spring Break might look like in the dead of winter. This is Viva Phoenix, a large-budget Neon Reverb, and we, the band, arrive at 6 p.m. to load in at Last Exit, a bar on the outskirts of the main sh*t. This is the first night of tour, the playing of which often deciding the degree of performance anxiety for the trip, and historically, we should muck it up. But tonight we break the trend, leaving us confident and not doomed to flaccidly push onward to Texas.

We’ve never played Phoenix before, and on more than one occasion it felt familiar. Like Las Vegas for its doppelgängers, like Austin for its patio beer gardens, like Neverland for its astonishingly polite drunks, and like the ‘90s for a totally absurd set by pseudo-headliner Sir Mix-A-Lot—who you’ll be happy to learn still doesn’t lie about his appreciation for butts. Night 1: Success.

  • The closing set provided a proper send-off for a successful first-year festival.

  • The film composer's show had more epic quiet-to-loud moments than many shoegaze bands can muster in a career

  • UFC president Dana White was up close for Godsmack—and not ensconced in some VIP area.

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