This year's South by Southwest festival has plenty of big attractions, but none are bigger than the Doritos JACKED Stage, a fully functioning 56-foot vending machine that dispenses a snack of unprecedented proportions: Doritos JACKED, an experimental new Dorito variety that threatens to shatter mankind's understanding of just how big, bold, and flavorful a chip can be:
"Doritos JACKED is everything fans love about Doritos tortilla chips, only jacked up for a bigger experience. Forty percent bigger in size and thickness, the chip delivers a one-two punch of intense flavors upfront followed by a twist of spice or tanginess that packs the ultimate crunch."
This thing is clearly the iPad3 of chips. It should sell itself, but Frito Lay is making the deal even tangier: a bunch of red-hot indie attractions will be playing in the shadow of this snack monolith, including !!!, Hooray for Earth, and Chiddy Bang.
Are these indie luminaries actually huge — REALLY huge — Dorito fans, or will this giant machine catch them by surprise? Being a big Hooray for Earth fan, I hit up singer Noel Heroux by email for some brief answers.
WHEN YOU BOOKED THIS SHOW, DID YOU KNOW YOU'D BE PLAYING UNDER A SIX-STORY DORITOS VENDING MACHINE? Nope.
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE DORITOS JACKED PHENOMENON? (THEY'RE LIKE DORITOS, BUT THEY'RE FUCKING 40 PERCENT BIGGER AND THICKER!) I hadn't heard of it. It sounds fattening and unhealthy but in the most positive way possible.
DO YOU THINK AMERICA'S TANGY FLAVOR HUBRIS HAS FINALLY GONE TOO FAR? Tangy flavors will never die, no matter what anyone thinks/says.
WHAT'S THE PLAN AFTER THE DORITO DUST BLOWS OVER? ANY NEW MATERIAL COMING SOON? New tracks and new record, yes. Looking very much forward to this.
Another JACKED-backed act is SOFT SWELLS, an ascendant NYC/LA duo, fresh from the San Francisco Noise Pop festival and tipped by a Time magazine blog as one of the hot bands to watch at SXSW. Guitarist Matt Welsh, who accounts for an impressive 50 percent of the group, was also kind enough to answer my stupid questions.
FIRST, CONGRATS ON THE BIG SHOW. IS THIS YOUR FIRST SXSW TRIP? Actually, between Tim and I, this is our ninth year coming to the festival with various projects. You can always count on two things — good shows and gaining about 10 pounds of food-truck-taco weight.
ARE YOU INTIMIDATED BY PLAYING UNDER A 56-FOOT DORITO MACHINE? I WOULD BE. Nah. When playing in a touring band you're always hit with some sort of left punch when it comes to shows. Whether it be showing up with no backlined instruments, piss-poor monitors, five additional last-minute additions to the line-up, or a weirdly placed stage, you just have to play the best show you know you can play and give people what they came to see . . . a great performance.
YOU'RE ONE OF THE LUCKY FEW WHO MIGHT GET THE RARE CHANCE TO TRY THESE BIG-ASS DORITOS BEFORE THEIR OFFICIAL LAUNCH DATE. ARE YOU GONNA AVAIL YOURSELF OF THAT OPPORTUNITY? I've actually set aside some quiet time in the hotel conference room and flown in my Wisconsin cheddar candle set for some much-needed self-reflection in preparation.