SXSW music news

Out of the Closet

Some things, like childbirth, the Houston Astros in the World Series, and R. Kelly live in concert, must be seen firsthand to be believed. Friday night, the embattled Chicago R&B crooner drove the roaring, overwhelmingly female Bass Concert Hall audience completely bananas with rapid-fire litanies of clubs, hotels, afterparties, and sex, sex, sex. "Do you mind if I strip for you?" he asked. No one did. R. Kelly truly loves the ladies (and, as the 10 or so protestors out front pointed out, the girls too). Perhaps against their better judgement, they love him right back.

Punks in the Beerlight

Friday afternoon saw not one but two historic punk shows happen on Red River – at the same time. At Emo's, playing the smallest room they have (or will) in a long time were Jersey emo-goths My Chemical Romance, who touched off a flurry of screams and flashing camera phones just by walking out to tune their guitars. Singer Gerard Way heaped praise on the afternoon's other bands – especially the frenetic Lifetime – and even from the T-shirt stand, it was obvious he was staring straight into the front row's eyes. In return, they strained to touch him like he was Jesus or Elvis. "As uncool as it is to say you like that band, they're actually good," said Riverboat Gamblers manager Bryan McClellan, adding that MCR became huge Gamblers fans on last year's Warped Tour. Up at Beerland, a mass of bodies heaved and shook to the 15-minute riot that was Memphis underground legends the Reatards, at their first (and probably only) Texas appearance. "It was pandemonium from the start," said breathless Beerland doorman Max Dropout. "Bands like the Oblivians and the Reatards are what this venue is all about."

Just a Li'l Bit

Austin nice guys Li'l Cap'n Travis rushed offstage after their set at Friday's glurp party, a bit prematurely it turned out, because St. Louis politico-punks Living Things were nowhere to be seen. "Aw, man," lamented singer-guitarist Matt Kinsey. "We could have done some epic shit." (glurp labelmates Grand Champeen eventually filled in.) LCT shows have been scarce recently because the fivepiece has been piecing together the follow-up to 2004's critically adored ...In All Their Splendor. "We've got a lot to do, but we can probably do it pretty fast," Kinsey said. "There's a weird soulish element, or as best as we can do it." Steel guitarist Gary Newcomb had serious circles under his eyes, from living above the parking lot where Cream Vintage and Slices & Ices are having free shows. "I saw [Slices manager] Matt Meshbane setting up today, and I was mad at first," he said. "But I had to tell him, 'Dude, those bands are pretty good.'"


It's obviously SXSW when you're standing in line for the Spin party at Stubb's and here comes Steve Earle strolling up Red River, cool as you please. Earle didn't go in, but inside TCB met Interscope Records publicist Michael Glumac, on our permanent happy list for hooking up U2 tickets last year. "I think [SXSW] kicks ass," he said. "It's my second year, so I know where everything is now." As Beatle Bob bopped down front to the Brit-garage rock of the Cribs, Glumac, handling Wolfmother and Snow Patrol this year, said he's enjoying his working vacation. Besides the barbecue, he laughed, "it's nice when you run into people you talk to on the phone all the time and can sit down with them." A little later, TCB drifted back by to catch elegant Canadian rockers the Stills and found Spin publisher Malcolm Campbell handing out passes by the gate, looking forward to the magazine's Saturday boat cruise on Lake Austin with Morningwood. "The parks department made us get a bigger boat," he said. "We invited a bunch of Minnesota Vikings and strippers, so it should be a good time."

Bits & Pieces

Not content with just one, the Flaming Lips played another "special guest" show Thursday night at Eternal, after Wayne Coyne rolled his way down Sixth Street in the plastic bubble some of you may remember from the 2004 MTV Awards... Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who tour with the Lips later this year, sat in with guitarist Rhys Chatham at Central Presbyterian Church Thursday and dropped by Beerland Friday to watch the Rat Traps... starting 11am Saturday at the Federal Building on Ninth Street, a "Million Musician March" to the state capitol will mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion... The closest thing to an oft-rumored Jane's Addiction show this week was Perry Farrell dropping by the Mean-Eyed Cat long enough to play "Mountain Song" Thursday.

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