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Saturday, March 21, 2009

SXSW '09 - Day Three (Friday)

Day three was about redemption and legends. We've got a lot to pack into our last day, so I'm going to keep this to some quick hits. You can get the live play-by-play over at the Twitter feed here. But first...

We saw Metallica.

The worst kept rumor of the week was that the band might be playing at the Guitar Hero sponsored showcase. The scene around Stubbs was madness, with several semis, throngs of people filling nearby parking garages and lots of security. Not entirely my thing, but I guess my answer to the question "Would you walk across the street to see Metallica play a club show for free?" is "yes".

They were muscular and aggressive, playing favs like "One" and "Whiplash". Truly one of my most memorable SXSW moments.

Here's the other stuff we saw in mini-reviews:

New York Dolls: The night's other legends were playing a late night gig which was also too much to pass up. David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain still deliver both the style and big tasty slabs of glam rock.

The High Dials: Had actually planned to spend the evening at Little Steven's Underground Garage showcase. But the venue was undersized for the crowd, the music started about 40 minutes late and I wasn't up for spending 6 hours in cramped close quarters, especially given that the metal gods were literally a block away. That said, The High Dials were very good at delivering their melodic pop and I'd like to see them again soon. It was also quite cool to have a Little Steven sighting since the Underground Garage is part of the foundation of what we do with Musical Justice.

King Khan and the Shrines: After the prior night's sound debacle, we decided to give them another shot. Amazing what a change in venue can do. Khan has one of the classic rock screams... one part Daltrey, one part James Brown. I could do without some of the more psychedelic stuff, but overall, this is shambolic, chaotic stuff.

Wavves: Some great songs, but not quite at the level of the best yet. I can see potential here once they have a couple more records under their belts.

Woods: Jangly, psychedelic pop with average performance and energy. Good but pretty much dime a dozen here.

Pains of Being Pure At Heart
: One of the biggest buzz acts playing one of their 10 or so shows. We've been a near miss at a couple of those shows so we made sure to catch them this time. Very good and likely one of the breakout acts from this year's SXSW.

The Black Lips: One of the most anticipated sets for me, but it left me cold. The internet's a buzz with the fact that Wu-Tang Clan's GZA joined them for 30 minutes of freeform over the Lips' beats. I get how that is pretty outrageous at the concept level, but GZA admitted that they hadn't rehearsed any of the performance. The Friday night @ 12-1 slot was probably the toughest choice of the entire week with competition from DEVO, Gary Louris & Mark Olson, Lady Sovereign, St. Vincent, Black Joe Lewis, The Hold Steady, The New York Dolls, Primal Scream and Dinosaur Jr. A little practice might have been nice. Just sayin'...

Here's some video from the Lips/GZA gig:

Grades: New York Dolls A-, The Black Lips with GZA C (Cool factor A, Execution D), King Khan and the Shrines A-, Pains of Being Pure At Heart B+, Wavves B-, The High Dials B+, Woods C, Metallica Heh heh heh... does it really matter?

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