The Terror: Flaming Lips at SXSW

Auditorium Shores’ gratis mega-bills hit a new high

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips

With today’s announcement of the Flaming Lips headlining its Town Lake Stage on Friday, March 15, South by Southwest has now confirmed all three days of its free annual concerts on Auditorium Shores. Taken together, the bills represent the best triple grouping in years.

Ice Cube, the Strokes – remember those Auditorium Shores SXSW headliners? The masses of humanity they attracted made ACL look like walk in the park. Can the Lips, whose new disc The Terror comes out the day after April Fools, equal that? Given the psychedelic Okies’ previous SX exposure, notably their 1997 live debut of Zaireeka in a parking lot on Red River, it’s entirely possible. Especially when you factor in their support – My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, and Austin’s own Spoon spin-off, Britt Daniel’s Divine Fits.

And that’s only one-third of the story.

Sandwiching that, there’s the Thursday and Saturday extravaganzas. The latter, March 16, headlines the Midnight Ramble Band, fronted by late Band singer-drummer Levon Helm’s daughter and singing partner, Amy Helm. That one stars sacred steel dynamo Robert Randolph & the Family Band, San Angelo’s Strat-rock siblings Los Lonely Boys, funkateers JJ Grey & Mofro, UK soulman James Hunter, S.F. jam survivors the Mother Hips, plus the Spirit Family Reunion, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers.

The dark horse of the three days-on-the-green may well be the best, March 14’s Latin rock big bang bill, a Godzilla vs. King Kong affair in two of Mexico City’s biggest acts performing back to back, Cafe Tacuba and Molotov. Realize that the former troupe, no stranger to Austin thanks to C3 Presents and sporting another unimpeachable electrocution in its new Objeto Antes Llamado Disco, basically remains the Radiohead of our neighboring country.

With Molotov, imagine Metallica leaning toward Linkin Park – metallic, neo-thrash rap. Years ago at one of the band’s La Zona Rosa stands, they rocked as fierce as Mexican metallers Brujeria but with an MC straight out of the Chuck D/Public Enemy old school. Add in SX Auditorium Shores veterans Bajofondo, an Argentina/ Uruguay fan fave axis of electro-traditional tango enthusiasts headed by Gustavo Santaolalla, the superstar producer (Juanes, Julieta Venegas), and you’ve got Teflon talent from beginning to end. If Santaolalla’s best collaborators Cafe Tacuba parallel Radiohead, that of course makes him Nigel Goodrich.

Last but not least – and, in fact, first – did I mention Italian MC Jovanotti, who romanced locals at ACL last year? He may just walk off with the whole show, which begins at 5pm.

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SXSW Auditorium Shores, Flaming Lips, Jim James, Divine Fits, Britt Daniel, Spoon, Levon Helm, the Band, Amy Helm, Robert Randolph, JJ Grey & Mofro, Mother Hips, James Hunter, Los Lonely Boys, Cafe Tacuba, Molotov, Bajofondo, Gustavo Santaolalla

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