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SXSW showcase reviews

Reviewed by Austin Powell, March 15, 2013, Music

Sound City Players

Stubb's, Thursday, March 14

Dave Grohl has the hardest-working Rolodex in rock & roll. The soundtrack to his directorial debut Sound City, a documentary film about the L.A. studio that produced landmark albums by Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, and Nirvana, among countless others, could be considered the hard-rock counterpoint to his collaborative metal project Probot. The LP presents an awkward contradiction: a tribute to the reel-to-reel authenticity of the analog era with the disposability of the digital age. For what he teased would be the last stage outing for the release, the South by Southwest keynote speaker rallied his supporting cast for the kind of all-star bash that's typically reserved for relief benefit concerts, with his Foo Fighters serving as the backing band for the majority of the evening. "Ladies and gentleman, it's going to be a long fuckin' night," Grohl announced early. He wasn't kidding. Less a concert than a three-hour-and-20-minute revue, Sound City Players showcased the back catalog of every guest: Rick Springfield's heartthrob Americana ("I've Done Everything for You"), the scorched desert-blues of Chris Goss' Masters of Reality ("She Got Me"), and Stevie Nicks' pagan magic ("Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"). Grohl gave equal weight to each act, regardless of stature, meaning that a relative footnote like Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sideman Alain Johannes ("Hanging Trees") likely received the same four to six songs as closers John Fogerty and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen. (Deadline forced an early exit.) The audience's attention waned accordingly, with L.A. punk icon Lee Ving of Fear being treated like a fool to be suffered gladly. Ever the court jester, Grohl proved the consummate host throughout, leading his mutual appreciation society with admirable zeal. While the band's original material couldn't hold water to the respective classics, the sentiment remained on point, casting off a feeling of the past coming to completion, a theme that emerged early with the Meat Puppets' corrosive country. And there were a few priceless moments, like Grohl's tender duet with Nicks on "Landslide," aged with reflective grace, that proved power comes with having friends in high places.

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