All Night Long
Cotton MatherThe Ginger Man, March 15
It's almost a truism of South by Southwest that some of the best shows come from nonofficial showcases. So it was with Austin's Cotton Mather, who delivered a damn near transcendent set in the dinnertime slot at the Blurt/Dogfish Head party on the Ginger Man patio. Celebrating the re-release of its magnificent opus Kontiki, the temporarily reunited band played most of it, starting with the album's first five psych-pop gems in order. It wasn't all Kontiki all the time, however. The quartet also aired out a couple of hard-rocking nuggets from follow-up The Big Picture, with "AMPs of Sugarland" and "40 Watt Solution" making it clear the band was as comfortable bashing as popping. Ultimately, though, it was literally Kontiki's show, making the ragged harmonies of the lovely "Lily Dreams On" ("I don't think we've ever played this song in Austin," remarked leader Robert Harrison) easy to forgive, even overlook. As a reminder of its pride in where it came from, the band invited David Garza onstage for the power-pop blowout "Password," an exhilarating end to the kind of hidden gem SXSW attendees dream of finding.