SXSW Live Shot: Yep Rock Showcase
From UK pub rock to Louisiana swamp pop
By Scott Schinder, 3:47PM, Fri. Mar. 14
North Carolina’s Yep Roc label has built an impressive roster of veteran and new talent, a generous selection of which was represented at Thursday’s all-nighter.
Mandolin Orange set the right tone early on, after sound problems forced the Chapel Hill acoustic trio to play a four-song set with no P.A. or amplification, winning over the already near-capacity crowd with their lilting tunes and winsome stage presence.
The Autumn Defense, led by Wilco members John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, followed with an equally ingratiating set of elegant, earthy folk-rock and warm, upbeat power pop.
Sports concept aside, the real selling point of supergroup the Baseball Project is the veteran players’ rocking rapport, here staging a surging set of tunes from group’s imminent third album. Mike Mills held down the bass slot originally occupied by his R.E.M. bandmate Peter Buck.
Previewing material from their forthcoming Big Bill Broonzy tribute, Blasters Dave and Phil Alvin’s uplifting reunion set found the battling brothers in perfect harmony, with the latter singing as powerfully as ever and the former unleashing stinging guitar solos.
Swamp rock godfather Tony Joe White’s languid guitar grooves and badass feedback outbursts were the perfect counterpoint to the Alvins’ attack.
Faces keyboardist, Austin institution, and recent Yep Roc signee Ian McLagan and his homegrown combo followed with a rollicking set featuring tunes from his upcoming label bow. Also tapping local talent was X’s John Doe, accompanied here by Austin’s own Jesse Dayton and his rhythm section.
Despite countrified versions of a couple of his X classics, Doe’s set functioned as a reminder of the depth and quality of his solo work, which is the subject of an upcoming Yep Roc compilation.