The final day of SXSW is a test of will, especially when it coincides with St. Patrick's Day. The drinking holiday is a little redundant during SXSW time, because at the festival, every day is St. Patrick's Day: The boozing starts early and goes late. The convergence of St. Pat's and SXSW simply means Sixth Street is even more crowded, supplemented by people in various green outfits–two lamest shirts: "Fuck Me I'm Irish!" (homemade) and "Erin go braghless!"–arguing couples, and dudes looking to fight someone.

An Aside: Inane Sixth Street Bar Names:
Mooseknuckle Pub (apparently The Camel Toe was taken)
Chuggin' Monkey
The Dizzy Rooster
(with "Survival Of The Fittest" on the sign–no creationists allowed?)
Cheers and Friends, two different bars whose logos use typefaces similar to the popular TV shows of the same name.

Anyway, by day four, when the crowds are starting to get to you, St. Patrick's Day is another twist of the knife. But it's still SXSW, and there's always something going on that's worth checking out. As the hours pass, your chances to see the bands you underlined in your program are running out. Better get cracking.

2pm: I head to the Alternative Press party at, appropriately, Emo's. The first band I see is Anaheim's New Years Day, a melodic punk band with female vocals. They're pretty typical SoCal punk, though with a dark style that's not quite goth, but differentiates them a bit from the herd. This type of punk is meant for half-hour sets, as anything longer tends to get repetitive.

2:57pm: The Forecast rips into "Fade In, Fade Out" from 2005's Late Night Conversations for their first song. The Illinois group's energy doesn't relent during its whole set, making theirs probably the most memorable set I've seen thus far. The Forecast's Midwestern post-punk–similar to groups like Hey Mercedes and Rainer Maria–isn't the sexiest sound for grabbing headlines, but I think the band's fantastic. I've championed them since they debuted on Victory Records, where they were promptly lost in the shuffle in favor of thoroughly boring bands like Hawthorne Heights. Maybe once they switch labels they'll get the attention they deserve.

4:40pm: I plan to skip out to see Rob Crow at the Carousel Lounge, but no one seems to know where that is, and the club isn't listed in the SXSW book. Instead, I watch Locksley again. I saw them Wednesday night, and they once again tear it up.

8:05pm: We head to Friends for a comedy show promoting Human Giant, the new comedy series on MTV featuring Aziz Ansari, Paul Scheer, and Rob Huebel. Patton Oswalt and Eugene Mirman are also supposed to perform, but Oswalt had to cancel all of his SXSW gigs because he was still shooting King Of Queens. The clips they show from Human Giant are pretty awesome, particularly one for a movie called Li'l 9/11, with cute kids playing the roles of Bush, Bin Laden, and others. Surprisingly, the crowd is a little rough on Merman and Ansari (who killed at our party).

10:02pm: The wandering begins. Whoever thought that the Saddle Creek showcase–featuring Field Music, Tilly & The Wall, The Pipettes, Tokyo Police Club, and Cursive–could fit in the cozy confines of the Beauty Bar's patio was either clueless or out of other options. The massive line extends down the block, and they're only accepting badges. Thus: I'm screwed. The stage is close to the alley, so if I don't mind standing next to overflowing Dumpsters, I can stay. The smell of stale beer and other garbage is a little overwhelming, though.

10:47pm: The previously nonexistent line to enter Buffalo Billiards–where Josh's favorite band, Midlake, is playing–has since taken shape and extends down the block. Badges only. D'oh.

11:05pm: I head to Emo's IV because Mary Timony is playing at 12am, followed by Erase Errata. In the meantime, Two Ton Boa plays. I make it through about three songs before I leave. I suspected the group's jerky, sorta gothy art-rock wouldn't do it for me. I skip out for some water and a Haagen-Dazs bar.

12:01am: Emo's has an interminable wait between bands. It took Two Ton Boa ages to set up, and Mary Timony follows suit. She begins her set a few minutes later, but never seems to hit her stride. Timony's stiff on stage, and her vocals–never dynamic to begin with–sound continually flat. When she plays a new song that has the line, "Get your laws off my body, mister," I begin plotting my exit. Timony reverses what had been the week's theme: bands whose records didn't impress me, but who were great live. I think I like my Mary Timony recorded.

1:37am: As I head toward the hotel–I'm too beat & broke to hit after-parties tonight–I see Jamie Kennedy standing on the back of a van in a parking lot at Seventh and Red River. The van's back doors are open, revealing massive speakers that boom some hip-hop-leaning dance tracks. The sides of the van are decorated for Kickin It Old School, some new Kennedy vehicle that's apparently about breakdancing. He's coaxing people into breakdancing on the mat behind the van, with limited success. Parked directly next to the ruckus is a van for the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church of Charlotte, N.C. A man wearing a suit stands guard, watching all of this nervously.

1:47am: A MySpace bus has pulled up at the corner of 10th and Brazos, giving away free hot dogs (and veggie dogs), shoelaces, iPod socks, and drinks. I take a free veggie dog. It's not that great, but hey, it's free. That could actually apply to a lot of things here. Or you could tweak it a bit: Yeah, SXSW is crowded and occasionally overwhelming, buy hey, it's SXSW. It's always a good time in the end.