Alex Chilton declared his musical aspirations with the band name "Big Star," yet he lived a life on the margins that earned him a reputation as rock & roll's J.D. Salinger. Following his death last week – just days before he was scheduled to perform at South by Southwest – the remaining members of Big Star, including original drummer Jody Stephens, repurposed a highly anticipated reunion showcase as a tribute. The wake then soundtracked Chilton's musical legacy, not his myth. Stephens, along with Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, who've played with Big Star since 1994, were joined by Meat Puppet Curt Kirkwood ("Don't Lie to Me," "Out in the Street"), M. Ward ("Big Black Car"), Chris Stamey ("I Am the Cosmos," a Chris Bell composition for those keeping score), and R.E.M.'s Mike Mills ("Jesus Christ"). Among the most powerful performances was Norwegian phenom Sondre Lerche's soulful version of "The Ballad of El Goodo" and cathartic closer "September Gurls" led by Susan Cowsill and the Watson Twins, with Mills and John Doe of X on backup. Meanwhile, founding guitarist/bassist Andy Hummel, who lives in Texas, not Lithuania as reported elsewhere, also sat in, joining Stephens for "Way Out West." "You've wrapped your arms around us, and we appreciate it," Stephens told the crowd, his apparent grief shared by many.
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