Justin Timberlake

Final SXSW Live Shots

Justin Timberlake

Copper Tank, March 16

At 8pm, two hours before doors opened at the Copper Tank, the crowd continued thickening. A friendly security guard, Keifer read the name tag, shouted, "If any of you are not press, please go to the front." Three girls lingered nearby, visibly lost. "Do you have wristbands?" I asked – trying to be helpful. Silver Chevron/Myspace wristbands had already become the stuff of legend. The highest offer I heard was $300, plus a pass to see Prince at La Zona Rosa. "No, we're just waiting," one replied. "To see if we can see him." She turned to her friend. "Do you think Jay-Z will be here, too?" Justin Timberlake's 90-minute "secret" show – hyped on Jimmy Fallon the night before – went down as one of the most exclusive shows in SXSW history. He and his Tennessee Kids dazzled the 800-person flood, crammed into a room built for half that capacity. His Saturday Night Live-sharpened banter, his time spent flaunting to each part of the room, and, of course, that slicked-up falsetto; down to the last detail, Timberlake remains an entertainer. And here, he dealt out a full house of hits from his two solo albums, rolling out dance moves worthy of his 'N Sync days. "Senorita" and "SexyBack" benefited from his full, brass-complete band, as did an oddly fitting INXS cover, "Need You Tonight." Still, as JT joked to the crushing crowd, "Well, it's just the two of us," you couldn't deny the intimacy of acoustic pickings on "What Goes Around ... Comes Around," an unblushing show of versatility and fleckless polish.

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