Highlights – Two Cow Garage’s blazing, spastic take on punk rock heartland Springsteen blew out the cobwebs from the previous night – free beer did not in any way hinder our enjoyment of this performance. J Roddy Walston & the Business barrelhouse set at South by San Jose thrilled the near capacity crowd– this is a real piano led southern rock and roll band that owes as much to Little Richard as it does to Lynryd Skynyrd. The dB’s delighted an overstuffed room full of 80’s pop nerds with classic cuts “Big Brown Eyes”, “Love is For Lovers” and “Neverland”, but the real surprise was that the 4 or 5 new songs they previewed did not suffer by comparison, catapulting Falling Off The Sky (due June 12 on Bar/None) to the top of 2012’s most anticipated releases. SXSW mainstays Lucero celebrated the release of their excellent new disc Women and Work with a typically bruised, battered and beery set at Bar 96.Lowlights – Typhoon’s too cluttered sound failed to ignite at Homeslice Pizza and count me as a naysayer to the mounting hype for The Alabama Shakes, whose generic blues rock captivated the jam-packed crowd at South by San Jose, but whose set seemed short on great songs, save for the slow burn sizzler “Hold On”, an undeniable treat.
Moments to savor – Two Cow Garage’s Micah Schnabel going stalker crazy on “Skinny Legged Girl” in the mid-day Texas sun and Lydia Loveless turning the stalker tables on “Steve Earle” an hour later. Singing along with the dB’s as they nailed “Big Brown Eyes” and being blown away by pile of hair J Roddy on the blistering, pounding “Brave Man’s Death”. Wayne Kramer joining fellow anarchist Ton Morello for a soul-cleansing, powerhouse version of the MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams”, followed in short order by Morello (the “pied piper or rock”) leading the packed audience at the Swan Dive out on to Red River Street for his “Occupy SXSW” street performance of “This Land is Your Land” and “World Wide Rebel Songs”, done commando style acoustic as the local police dutifully helped out by shutting down the PA.Also Got to See – The soul revue workout of JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound at The Yard Dog Party, the energetic, very young Chicago-bred jazz/funk/hip hop band Kids These Days as we waited for the Alabama Shakes and the well scrubbed Americana of Britain’s The Dunwells, who may appeal to all those Mumford & Sons fans that came out of nowhere to make Sigh No More such a smash.
Two Cow Garage – “Skinny Legged Girl” (from Speaking in Cursive)
Lydia Loveless – “Steve Earle” (from Indestructible Machine)
J Roddy Walston & The Business – “Brave Man’s Death” (from J RoddyWalston & The Business)
MC5 – “Kick Out The Jams” (from Kick Out The Jams)