Alexander Even and Stephen Patterson, aka White Rabbits, stopped by House Wine, KXT’s On the Road “studio” in Austin during SXSW. While there, they play a super-stripped-down version of “I’m Not Me.” For your listening pleasure.
South by Southwest may be over, but the music goes on. Here’s The Barr Brothers, first of a series of bands to stop by KXT’s impromptu “studio” at House Wine in Austin. Check back later for more. The Montreal band plays a lovely acoustic version of “Beggar in the Morning.” Complete with bike rim percussion!
AUSTIN – “You’re now officially ruined for Springsteen. You can’t see him again.”
That was KXT programming director Mark Abuzzahab’s assessment to me as we talked about the show that had just emptied out of the Moody Theater at midnight. He’s probably right. When else do you have the opportunity to see a legend in a venue that holds just 2,700 people?
I wrote yesterday about how I never really got Bruce Springsteen – that I always respected him but didn’t quite understand the dedication of his fan base. After last night’s show, I can’t say I’m ready to buy the entire back catalog on iTunes. But I do have a much better sense of what all the hubbub’s about.
Things started somberly with “Ain’t Got No Home,” a tribute to Woody Guthrie on the occasion of his 100th birthday. But from there Springsteen and his 15-piece E Street Band were guns a blazin’ for much of the nearly three hours that followed. “Badlands” drew out a sing as loud as you can response from the crowd. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” featured a blistering back-and-forth between Springsteen and special guest Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave fame. And “The Rising” would have been just as at home in a charismatic church as a concert hall. For most bands, any of these songs would serve as the bring-the-house-down finale. But a Springsteen set list seems to alternate between tearing the walls down and building them back up again.
This week, Art&Seek’s Stephen Becker and Dallas Morning News movie critic Chris Vognar take the show to Austin for a report from South by Southwest. But first, Will Ferrell stops by to discuss his Spanish-language movie, Casa De Mi Padre. Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen podcast on iTunes. Stream this week’s podcast below or download it.
AUSTIN – “How important can this speech be if we’re giving it at noon? Every decent musician in town is still asleep!”
That’s how Bruce Springsteen began the 2012 Key Note speech at SXSW. What followed was part comedy, part life lesson and part call to action.
Before some brief opening remarks, he talked about his own musical journey, which began with seeing Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. He learned from this white man playing black music that, “you could call upon your powers of imagination and could create your own transformative self.” Six-year-old Bruce got his hands on a guitar a week later and has been playing ever since.
After Elvis, he soaked up inspiration from a diverse collection of genres and performers. He loved doo wop (“Don’t it make you want to kiss somebody?”) and Roy Orbison (“He seemed to take joy in digging his deep knife into the belly of our teenage insecurities.”) before moving on to Phil Spector albums and The Beatles.
But he’s got a special place in his heart for The Animals. At the podium, he picked up a guitar and sang part of “We Got to Get Out of This Place.”
Andrew Bird‘s new 12th album, Break It Yourself, is a brooding grower, not to mention a headphone record of the highest order. On the live stage, though, it’s clear that Bird has become a cult superstar of the variety that attracts actual, real, live screaming fans. His music can be subtle and sweet, but Bird’s concerts also bring out the fervent, electric energy of his following — which, of course, helps coax out a showmanship that’s not readily apparent in Break It Yourself‘s gentle, multilayered ballads.
Classically trained and once known as a purveyor of old-time hot jazz, Bird is now the picture of indie-pop sophistication, known for employing $10 words and the clearest, most identifiable whistle in the business. (Yes, that’s him working as something of a stunt double in last year’s Muppets reboot.) Naturally, both came into play when Bird took the Stubb’s stage as the headliner of NPR Music’s SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas. Though he opened on an atmospheric note, once Bird dug into peppier songs like “Dark Matter” (from Armchair Apocrypha), he found his energy. When the Spinning Horn Speaker behind him created the illusion of Bird as some sort of horned fiddling demon-god, he proved worthy of the menacing visual.
Bird had no easy acts to follow at Stubb’s — he came on shortly after the raucous, earth-shaking up-and-comers in the Alabama Shakes, not to mention the insane rampage of Dan Deacon — but his warm, precise pop wore well anyway. Unlike most SXSW performers, who play shows by the handful during the extended weekend, this was Bird’s one shot at this year’s festival, and he appeared determined to make it count for the sweet, soaring hour he held the stage.
- “Hole in the Ocean Floor”
- “Danse Caribe”
- “Dark Matter”
- “Desperation Breeds …”
- “Give It Away”
- “Near Death Experience Experience”
- “Orpheo Looks Back”
- “Fatal Shore”
- “Tables and Chairs”
- “Fake Palindromes”
Producers: Amy Schriefer, Robin Hilton; Video by: XI Media; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait
Check out Matt from Magnificent Beard at Flatstock! April Kinser caught up with him at the convention center in Austin. Remember Magnificent Beard from the story Stephen Becker did last year on Flatstock? I’ve posted the video that April and Dane Walters did last year on them below, just in case you missed it. The duo also designed member the KXT’s Winter Membership Campaign t-shirt.
AUSTIN – Normally when I write about my experiences at SXSW, I do my best to write about what I’m seeing and hearing and I leave out the other stuff. Why should you care what I had for dinner or what kind of drinks they served at some party?
But I’m writing about last night because it’s really a microcosm of what a weird, exciting and, also, weird place Austin can be when the festival is in town.
After hanging out with a couple of my KXT buddies, we parted ways around 9:15 p.m. They were heading to Stubbs to try to catch the Alabama Shakes and Andrew Bird as part of NPR’s annual big music showcase. And I was heading to an event on the opposite side of town that started at 11.
With 90 minutes to kill, I did the thing that makes coming to events like this great: I pulled up the SXSW app and looked to see what was going on within a few blocks of where I was standing. As luck would have it, a movie was starting at the Paramount Theater in about five minutes. Sold.
I can’t count the number of times when I’ve just walked into a movie at a festival that I had no plans on seeing and it ended up being one of the best things I see. Maybe I’m a bad judge of potential. But the documentary I saw, Searching for Sugar Man, is one of the most exhilarating I’ve seen in a while. Read More »