SXSW Music 2010
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., March 26, 2010
New WineDirty Dog Bar, Saturday, March 20
Moby Grape lives. Peter Lewis ripping through Moby Grape's "Sitting by the Window" and "Fall on You" at the Austin Music Awards burst the floodgates, and less than three hours later, two of his bandmates and the son of a third brought in a leviathan set. Seven songs culled from the first-wave San Franciscans' first two LPs, plus two tunes from a new album still looking for a home, wrung out every last minute of a closing showcase on high Saturday night of South by Southwest 2010. The lifelong musical duo at the heart of the original 1960s fivepiece, drummer Don Stevenson and guitarist Jerry Miller, stood center stage in the roomy Sixth Street bar, the former assuming lead vocalist duties while the latter uncorked white-water blues licks wearing his cowboy hat and a shit-eating grin. Omar Spence, third son of Moby Grape's late spiritual center, Skip Spence, added brawn on guitar and goose-bump harmonies to Stevenson and Miller, as a supporting trio of third guitar, bass, and drums provided further locomotion to the gleefully feral front line. Summer of Love set staple "Rounder" opened thick and heavy, and "Murder in My Heart for the Judge" proved that almost any combination of the band's original lineup manages to generate Moby Grape's trademark fraternal chorus. Brand- newbie "Running the Train" came out of recently recorded vintage jam "Dark Magic," which touched off signature barn burner "Omaha." Miller's Cat Power-appropriated "Naked If I Want To" and Miller/Stevenson Wow co-write "Can't Be So Bad" closed. If the giddy rush of this performance wasn't quite Moby Grape's Saturday set at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, available next month on the raw and revelatory Moby Grape Live, it was still a whale of a tale.