Southern Rock Opera
SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up
Harvey Sid FisherEmpanada Parlour, Saturday 16 For cultural fringe dwellers like L.A.'s Harvey Sid Fisher, it's all about playing the angles. After building a career out of bit TV and movie parts, modeling gigs, and open mike nights, Fisher attained his greatest notoriety from an oft-dubbed, no-budget public access video of his astrology songs. Today, the man can traipse into SXSW and be afforded quasi-celebrity treatment, even though he still had to fly here on the red eye using a Hotwire ticket. Fisher was in fine form Saturday night, cracking bad jokes and mugging unnaturally every time a photographer came within 10 feet. This was due in part to Austin's Hidden Persuaders, who backed Fisher with clever, energetic arrangements. Freed from having to play every song on acoustic guitar, Fisher seemed especially energized on audience favorites like "Aries" ("I am, I am, I am the ram!") and "Taurus" ("Talk about the Taurus, talk about the bully-boo-boo!"). Sensing a possible tobacco settlement-funded market for youth anti-smoking songs, Fisher unveiled "Kick That Butt," which just might work on teens with an extraordinarily well-developed sense of irony. Bassist Jenny Hart joined Fisher for "Money," a highlight from his domestic squabbles disc, Battle of the Sexes, and the audience fell into a somewhat confused hush when Fisher sang his Vietnam-era folk song about a soldier who winds up in the psycho ward. While the song was wildly incongruent with the rest of his set, it's precisely this kind of iconoclastic choice that makes Fisher intriguing on a plane slightly beyond novelty. Though Fisher was unable to cover all the signs of the zodiac in his 40-minute set, any astute entertainer knows that it's always best to leave 'em wanting more.
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