For an event of which so much is made about its buzzy young bands and breakout discoveries, this year's SXSW put forth more than its fair share of what might be called nostalgia acts. The aging of pop music's oldest fans, as well as newly-found relevance for older artists amongst its youngest, helped make the likes of Dave Grohl's Sound City Players (including Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty and Rick Springfield, among others), The Zombies, The Skatalites, Prince, Eric Burdon, Public Enemy, Depeche Mode, George Clinton, and still others, hot tickets.
What nearly all of these artists have in common besides prolonged careers is the fact that they've continued to record and release new music. Nostalgia might be the feeling inspired by hearing their early works, in other words, but let's not put them out to pasture just yet. Their presence also made for some interesting full-circle connections-- for instance it can be well-argued that there might be no Pickwick (the much ballyhooed Seattle band fresh off of a full-length debut), without Burdon and the Animals' contributions nearly five decades ago. What does it all mean? As Robyn Hitchcock recently put it, rock & roll (and you may as well include hip-hop and every other genre) is an old man's game now…or, at least, no longer reserved for the chronologically young.
Burdon at 71 showed he's still got it, "it" being the voice that made songs like "House of the Rising Sun" part of the canon while fronting The Animals in the mid to late 60's. He played through a set largely made up of songs from his new release, 'Til Your River Runs Dry, but also got to that classic, as well as "We Gotta Get Outta This Place." --JP
While we have the "Legends!" file open, this also certainly belongs. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell played several shows this week, including a brief but charming one today at the Convention Center. The duet have a new record, Old Yellow Moon. -- DC
On the "new artist" end of the spectrum, Seattle's Pickwick gave one of my favorite shows of the week Friday. They work the same R&B/rock ground as bands like Spoon, or Squeeze, with a tight sound and winning vocals from lead singer Galen Disston. Portland's Lizzie Ellison (of Radiation City) joined them for the Richard Swift tune "Lady Luck." Pickwick plays the Wonder Ballroom this Saturday, March 23rd. -- DC
Elsewhere, Sad Baby Wolf, the Albequerque- based project from former Shin Marty Crandall, sounded fantastic if also a little tentative in delivering songs from the debut full-length out next month. The release marks the first of note from any of the stable of former members of James Mercer's band that now exists-- we were already looking forward to it, now consider it hotly-anticipated. -- JP
Perhaps the most criminally under-attended set I saw all festival was Helado Negro's night-closer at Palm Door. The Brooklyn-based duo combines live bass and vocals with synthetic beats, singer Roberto Lange delivering largely in Spanish while coming across as a kind Joao Gilberto for the electronic set. At the very least, this one should have been a packed house and a dance party, but closer to the truth Helado Negro should be filling Stubb's spacious confines. They may very well might. -- JP
See the night's full photo set, including Fitz & the Tantrums, Fol Chen, Nataly Dawn and more HERE.
Tagged: SXSW 2013