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Spring Crawl worth the money

Reporter stumbles through Alibi’s festival of bands

The best thing about turning 21 years old in Albuquerque isn’t just that you can legally enter bars, it’s that, twice a year, you can pay $10 to enter all the downtown bars and hear lots of good bands when the Weekly Alibi holds its local music festival.

At this year’s Spring Crawl, more than 70 local bands and spoken word artists rocked Downtown, from the Sunshine Theatre to Famous Sam’s.

I started out my night at the Downtown Distillery, where singer/songwriter and former Daily Lobo culture editor Rachel Heisler took the stage.

Heisler’s big voice belies the melancholy nature of her lyrics, and she gathered many admirers during her 40-minute set. Heisler accompanied herself only with two guitars, switching between acoustic and electric. Take the best things from Belly’s Tanya Donnelly and Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh, and you’ll almost understand what Heisler sounds like.

I desperately wanted to see Sauce’s belly dancing at 9 p.m., but after waiting 20 minutes — and through a hellish bathroom line — I realized that, by waiting for one act, I was missing at least five other good ones.

I also thought I saw my ex-boyfriend, so I had to run like the wind.

I found a long but fast-moving line of people for the Alibi/Coors Light/Bacardi Lim¢n outdoor stage. I heard reggae music playing, but after purchasing a cuba libre, I realized the music was just a record playing between sets. When a band finally took the stage, the sound terrified me into thinking that I’d accidentally stumbled into some weird Dave Matthews show — I’d like to thank the rum for that.

A gyrating hippie informed me that the Withdrawls had just taken the stage, so I made a quick retreat and headed back down Central Avenue.

I then went to meet some friends at the Anodyne. Rumor had it that the Anodyne was holding an anti-Spring Crawl party, so the bar was packed with people who didn’t want to pony up the $10 for a bracelet. The performers announced that they were playing mushroom jazz. I didn’t listen as closely as I could have — I was too busy being righteously indignant about the half doors missing from the women’s bathroom stalls.

After being poked in the ass with a pool cue one too many times by overeager pool players, I stumbled down to El Rey Theater. I caught the very end of Blunt Society’s set, but I spent most of my time in line for the single bathroom stall available to female patrons. Lots of people were dancing, but I just wasn’t feeling the love, so I left quickly.

I stopped at Fajitaville’s outdoor tent and bought a chicken quesedilla.

It was steaming hot, and included beans and some salad. The food was good, but I think anything I’d have eaten at that point would have been considered manna from heaven. The greens had salsa and some kind of white goop that I can only assume was sour cream; quite frankly, it frightened me, so I didn’t eat it.

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I finished my night at Burt’s Tiki Lounge, where the Surf Lords were playing. People were dancing all over the floor, and two chicks were breaking it down on stage. The band covered all sorts of surf classics, including Pee Wee Herman’s “Big Shoe Dance” and “Tequila,” at last call. Burt’s stayed packed until the place shut down, and I had to be herded out with the final stragglers.

The worst thing about the Crawl wasn’t parking, although it certainly sucked, but that so many good acts were playing all night long. I missed several bands I really wanted to see because they were playing at the same time.

But really, I’d much rather complain about too much good music all at once, rather than bitch about there not being enough.


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