Saturday-Sunday SXSW Live Shots

Saturday-Sunday

SATURDAY:

Mind Spiders/Bad Sports

Easy Tiger, March 19

Saturday night's Dirtnap showcase demonstrated just how far the Portland, Ore., label has its hands up Texas' skirt. Everyone was panting for former Marked Man Mark Ryan's new band Mind Spiders, which blew out webs with two drummers, two guitarists, a bassist, and a keyboardist crowding the small stage. The sound swirling around the basementlike confines of Easy Tiger didn't matter: "Going Away Tonight" and "Mind Spiders Theme," from January's self-titled debut, lodged themselves in your ear. Ryan also debuted two new songs and managed to work in a snippet of the Monks' "Monk Chant." Next, Denton/Austin trio Bad Sports got us all hot and bothered for their upcoming Dirtnap debut. Led by Austin's Orville Bateman Neeley III, every song had a hook and rah-rah chorus. Young Neeley knows how to write a great song, and "Teenage Girls" had all the components to fog up those windows. – Audra Schroeder

Pulled Apart by Horses

Latitude 30, March 19

Somehow, through some miracle of rock & roll resilience, English alt-hardcore experts Pulled Apart by Horses made it back to the British Music Embassy. Four days earlier, chief screamer Tom Hudson was up on the bar for a rip-roaring blast through ironic homage to steroids "Yeah Buddy," pouring water on himself and crowd-surfing to the stage. By Saturday afternoon, he was bleary-eyed and scarcely holding down a Jack-and-Coke breakfast. It looked like a week of debauchery had taken its toll on Hudson and company – right up until they unleashed a feedback tornado. Battle-toughened in the dingy back rooms of UK pubs but stadium-ready after playing with Muse, their muscled debut album is the well-behaved brother to the sweat-stained live experience, Pixies-style melodies turbo-driven by Sepultura riffage. So when Hudson, midset and midcrowd, demolished a table and vomited up his liquid breakfast, even the staff laughed it off. – Richard Whittaker

The Cambodian Space Project

Habana Bar, March 19

Committing to SXSW usually means forgoing the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, but occasionally you find some analogues out there to make up for the lost basketball. To that end, the Cambodian Space Project felt a little like a 16-seed. More than anything, they were just happy to be there. That was clearly written across the face of singer Srey Thy throughout the set. Hailing from Phnom Pehn, they're really Cambodian, and accordingly, Thy has about five words of English in her vocabulary, meaning the audience had little choice but to read her beaming visage. Sadly, with a mostly rented backing band and sound issues, CSP were simply overmatched in reviving much of the pop-music legacy that was trashed when Pol Pot erased the country's culture with his Year Zero policy. There were remnants of late-1950s American proto-rock coloring the songs, but even with the odd foreign influences buried in the group's indigenous, islandlike pop, the set seemed more of a curiosity than anything culturally relevant. – Michael Bertin

Warren G

Venue 222, March 19

Originally slated for a 9:30pm showcase, Warren G's set deservedly got shifted to the headlining slot after Tuesday night's news that longtime collaborator and West Coast hip-hop legend Nate Dogg had died from a stroke. What was to be a coming-out party for L.A.'s next wave of Kendrick Lamar and Shawn Chrystopher became a star-studded tribute to the hook master, with Daz Dillinger and Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound handling most of the set's lead MC duties. Neither elicited a rush like special guest Snoop Dogg, however, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy his hour as one of the boys. All donned white "R.I.P. Nate Dogg" T-shirts, and the 10-odd rappers passed blunts and microphones throughout the family affair, leading sing-alongs of "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)," "XXplosive" "Let's Get High," "Regulators," and "The Next Episode" before ending the night with a medley of Nate Dogg's most iconic hooks. Hold up, heyyyyy. – Chase Hoffberger

Hanson

Antone's, March 19

A babble of blonde ex-MMMBoppers draped themselves over the apron of the stage at Antone's Saturday night, many with disgruntled and bored-looking boyfriends in tow. Finally, at 12:45am, the grown-up threesome, with two beefy supporting players, took the stage, and middle brother Taylor Hanson started talking. And talking. And talking. After his interminable monologue, the Tulsa, Okla., trio launched into "Waiting For This," from last year's Shout It Out. "There's no set list tonight, we're just rolling," Taylor declared as the band alternated between current singles "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'" and old chestnuts like "Where's the Love." Interspersed between the highly polished bits of nonthreatening corporate pop, Taylor asserted that SXSW has the opportunity to make music work for good, à la the Hansons' efforts for Japan relief. But all of that was drowned in a sea of squees once the brothers trotted out the aforementioned defining single. – Melanie Haupt

Liz Phair

ACL Live at the Moody Theater, March 19

"Seriously? No takers for Hot White Cum?" Seems like neither age nor motherhood had dented Liz Phair's delight in crudity. Inside a packed Moody Theater, Perez Hilton's official SXSW party was running late, with gaggles of stage crew having pointed discussions stage left as Mia Moretti and Caitlin Moe padded out a bland DJ set with violins stage right. Outside, it was a confused mess of various colored wrist bands, rival invite lists, and overflow lines full of disappointed guests. So there was raw relief when Phair finally lit the fuse on "Supernova." Steering clear of anything after her eponymous 2003 album, she fulfilled the first of two requests from the evening's host when an audience member joined her on backing vocals for the slutty-sweet playground chant of "Flower." The second favor was the real gift to the audience: the wistful swing of "Polyester Bride," still breaking hearts. – Richard Whittaker

Gary Wilson

Lamberts, March 19

As Saturday drew to a soporific close, Gary Wilson's songs of obsession and inadequacy took on the aura of weird dreams you probably shouldn't tell anyone about. Where else but in the dream world does mellow 1970s jazz-rock commingle with unseemly odes to ghosts of girls past at an upscale barbecue restaurant? The room was half full when Wilson started 25 minutes late, but the remaining dead-enders immediately crowded up front to witness the spectacle. Armed with vintage RadioShack synthesizers, the crack cast of backing musicians nailed the sonic spirit of Wilson's parents' basement on outsider anthems like "You Keep on Looking," from 1977 cult classic You Think You Really Know Me, as well as recent gems like "Linda Wants To Be Alone." Resplendent in a pink negligee, white hospital nightshirt, and yellow dish washing gloves, Wilson's celebration of unrequited lechery culminated in a mess of duct tape, garbage bags, and flour. – Greg Beets

SXSW Panel: And On the Piano ... Nicky Hopkins

Austin Convention Center, March 19

If you grew up reading liner notes from the 1960s through the 1980s and are a fan of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, and Who, you recognize Nicky Hopkins' name. This fast-moving panel led by music journalist emeritus Dave Marsh opened a door onto the overlooked sideman's life with a host of people who knew him. British musician/songwriter Julian Dawson first met the late pianist at South by Southwest months before his death in 1994. Dawson's new Hopkins biography gave the panel its name and served as the jumping-off point for the conversation. The author's detailed knowledge brought out fascinating recollections from Ian McLagan and Chuck Leavell, two other Stones sidemen who knew him well. Music publisher Richard Perna supplied information on Hopkins' latter career writing film scores in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville, Tenn., to escape earthquakes. A too-brief glimpse at a genius musician finally getting his due. – Jim Caligiuri

Peter Stampfel & the Ether Frolic Mob

Creekside at the Hilton Garden Inn, March 19

To an audience of almost as many gray-haired writers as music fans, 72-year-old Peter Stampfel kept true to his ideal of playing music from the scrap heap of history. He's just so gregarious onstage that no matter how odd his song choices, he's hard not to love. Stampfel was joined by the Dust Busters, a young New York trio that includes Walker Shepard, son of writer Sam Shepard, kindred spirits in re-creating the early days of recorded musical history. They followed him buoyantly, through jug-band tunes and off-kilter Stampfel originals like "The Drunken Banjo Waltz." The cherry on top was a hilarious new version of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" with additional verses – name-checking Doug Sahm, Stevie Ray Vaughan, George W. Bush, and David Koresh – that had been supplied by local gray-hair in attendance John Morthland. – Jim Caligiuri

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears With the Relatives and Dennis Coffey

Jo's Coffee, Saturday 19

In a backstage RV with a "Jesus Loves Freaks" sign on the window, Relatives ringleader the Rev. Gean West could be heard trying to lure Black Joe Lewis to his Sunday morning church service. The Austin bluesman was noncommittal, but the pair clearly shares a tight bond as Lewis and his Honeybears invited the Dallas soul evangelists onstage after a smoking set of gritty R&B culled from hot-off-the-presses second LP Scandalous. The Relatives, rescued from the dust bins of music history by local imprint Heavy Light with 2009's Don't Let Me Fall, spread the gospel on "Let it Shine" as Motown guitar god Dennis Coffey joined the fun, soloing throughout the extended jam. Coffey, backed by an eightpiece band, followed by freaking the instrumental "Theme from Black Belt Jones" and the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing." Black-clad and pantsless, Wax Poetics songstress Kendra Morris guested on "Don't Knock My Love" and "All Your Goodies Are Gone" from Coffey's forthcoming eponymous LP before the band closed with the funky sting of "Scorpio." – Thomas Fawcett

Chico Trujillo

Maggie Mae's, March 19

Yes, Kanye West and Jay-Z were sending Twitter into hyperdrive a few blocks away, and yes, Snoop was paying tribute to the fallen Nate Dogg right across the street, but try telling a roomful of cumbia-crazed Chileans that they weren't at the hottest show of the night at Maggie Mae's. There's something special about the waning hours of the Festival, and Chico Trujillo captured the energy perfectly with an outrageously raucous set of cumbia delivered with serious punk-rock attitude. A surprising percentage of the crowd knew every word belted out by the group from Quilpue, Chile, including rollicking chant "La Escoba" and ska-tinged "Ahora Quien" from last year's stateside debut Chico de Oro. The ensemble rewarded calls of "otra, otra" and "ole, ole, ole!" with an encore featuring radical Rebel Diaz MC RodStarz. – Thomas Fawcett

Soft Healer

The Velveeta Room, March 19

There are easier gigs to play than a Saturday night closing set at SXSW for a sparse crowd in a Sixth Street dive. To its credit, local quartet Soft Healer didn't seem to mind, either because of exhaustion or due to the droned-out and layered wash of psych-soul they give themselves up to. Opening with the sax gruel and harmony of Sara Berger melding into the piercing wail of frontwoman Marie Butcher, the band blurred into "Movie Light" behind a swanky groove spurred by Will Slack's wonky guitar. Soft Healer's at its best when balancing an aggressive rhythmic barrage with soulful catharsis into a squall of destructive beauty. Their live set and new recordings favor the heaviness of the former, highlighted in "Grand Isle" on their new Monofonus Press 10-inch. – Doug Freeeman


SUNDAY

Goodbye South By/New York Night Train's Soul Clap and Dance-Off

Emo's, March 20

Welcome stragglers, survivors, and last ones standing. For those who couldn't let go and those saying farewell, the doubleheader party was the only way to come down. Inside, Austin's Shapes Have Fangs filled the room with echo-heavy garage rock before clearing the stage for the Jim Jones Revue's rock & roll revival. Afterward, Vockah Redu – all cult-leader charisma and abs – lead his crew and the crowd into the sultry loins of New Orleans bounce. Outside, the best of the East Coast post-rock scene watched in awe as doomier-than-doom trio Tombs rattled teeth. If said Brooklynites scoured the room, Caspian drowned it in tides of guitar as "Sycamore" flowed from multilayered sway to percussive unity. In a final roar of glitz, sleaze, and tinsel, Oakland, Calif.'s Extra Action Marching Band lead the crowd into the street, and it was all bump and grind and tubas and trombones till the cops were called. – Richard Whittaker

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