Photo By Gary Miller
Mojo's Mayhem & Kontinental Kar Show & Shine
Continental Club, Saturday 17
There's something preternatural about spending a Saturday afternoon at South Austin's Continental Club. It's always seemed a perfect setting for seeing live music after dark, yet its smoky lounge atmosphere is diminished somewhat by daylight streaming through its windows. That didn't stop Mojo Nixon from once again hosting this annual car show and musical extravaganza, an event that has become a South by Southwest tradition that always stops traffic on South Congress. If SXSW is a race, by Saturday afternoon, one might suspect that many of its participants are dropping by the wayside. How much live music can one person see in a loooong weekend anyway? But the Continental was packed, and the crowd flowed out onto the street, where the oh-so-sweet wheels were on display for much of the day. People seem to possess an insatiable thirst for more songs and energized (if relatively brief) performances, especially if it's free. Highlights of the afternoon included an electric set of roots-rock from Blue Mountain, powerful performances from local singer-songwriters Beaver Nelson and Jon Dee Graham, the blistering guitar and blues-rock of the Paladins, and Mojo's inspired lunacy and pointed barbs. The one surprise of the day was turned in by Luther Wright & the Wrongs, an Ontario-based quartet. They started off slowly with a seemingly by-the-numbers brand of country-rock, but as their set progressed, they gathered a healthy head of steam. With each new song they became more compelling as Wright and friends showed off some tight ensemble play, interesting harmonies, and a talent for first-class songs. As they finished, the crowd let out a resounding roar of approval. Perhaps they recognized another perfect SXSW moment, where an unknown band can break through to an audience for all the right reasons. Good music, especially when it's free, is truly hard to beat.