“In no way is Rachael Ray’s food associated with diarrhea,” Jordan Smith announces from the stage. “I want to make that extremely clear to everyone.”
One of Diarrhea Planet’s four guitarists has taken it upon himself to clear some things up before his band starts its tenth and final show of SXSW. It seems like an innocuous enough comment, but it’s actually telling. The Nashville pop-punks, who’ve spent the last three years tirelessly touring and winning over fans in spite of their name, were initially slated to play Rachael Ray’s Feedback show. For the uninitiated, this is a public-facing mini-music fest at Stubb’s held earlier in the day, alongside acts that used to be exciting but are now about as inoffensive as egg salad (Blondie, Cee Lo, Green Day side project Foxboro Hot Tubs).
However, Ray and her camp didn’t think it would be wise to associate so publicly with a band whose name brings to mind The Enemy, and I don’t mean Giada or Nigella. Poop serves no role in Ray’s sanitized world of 30 Minute Meals, despite the obvious circle of life. Poop is the antithesis of “yum-o!,” Ray’s signature chirp. In this battle between on-point branding strategies and rock ‘n’ roll that the masses need to hear, poop was the deciding factor. If this isn’t a snapshot of SXSW’s priorities, I’m not sure what is.
And so, Diarrhea Planet got shoved in the corner of the Rachael Ray universe, playing the latest time slot on the final day of SXSW at the invite-only Feedback House, held at a small patio southeast of Fader Fort. Oh yeah, and the most appetizing thing to eat was a Ball Park Frank.
Despite all this, it was a triumphant performance that won over much of the middle-aged crowd. Diarrhea Planet seem to work that much harder to prove themselves when placed in front of an unsuspecting crowd, as they sometimes are after people discover just how thoroughly entertaining they are live. As Melissa Etheridge aptly phrased it earlier in the week when she covered Tom Petty alongside the Planet, “that’s a real band with a joke name.”
It was looking shaky at first if this crowd would set their skepticism and canned Bellini drinks aside, but after two Planet associates stage-dove, it was chaos. The band then offered up free “diarrhea is the new fuck” t-shirts (as seen above) to those who’d join in on the stage-diving, five spots that were quickly filled. A mosh pit broke out among the patio’s artful landscaping, and soon a female bouncer was placed directly in front of singer/guitarist Evan Bird’s mic. A man wearing a kilt and a Mardi Gras mask screamed out that he loved diarrhea. Amidst a crowd that had just wolfed down chili dogs and Blue Moons, he wasn’t the only one saying so.