Planet Rock

Austin, Texas, SXSW 2005

Planet Rock
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson

New York Dolls

Stubb's, Friday, March 18

The New York Dolls' set at Stubb's annual Spin party Friday afternoon had its incongruities – the dust, the scent of barbecue, the sunshine (of all things) – not to mention a lot of diehard fans who never expected to live long enough to see the band reunited 20 years later. But they came out blasting, singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain accompanied by a crack band that earned the right to call themselves the New York Dolls, a band who practically invented the New York rock scene and dissuaded many of us from committing suicide during the "Disco Duck"/Hotel California Seventies. The guitars were growling like grizzly bears again, with runaway-train drums and bass, and Johansen's primal howl: Mick Jagger crossed with T. Rex. They were vulgar, trashy, and supercool. From opener "Looking for a Kiss" to closer "Personality Crisis," the 50-minute set was as perfect as a rock & roll show could ever be. As amazing as the band's two classic LPs still sound today, the Dolls historically had too many demons and habits to be a reliable live act. Friday they were the greatest band in the universe and then some. We left Stubb's swearing there was no reason to bother with any other showcases; we knew they would all pale in comparison.

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