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iPO Reports

Friday and Saturday Music: Vampire Weekend, The Redwalls, The Supersuckers and The Rolling Stones

The South by Southwest 2008 Music Conference and Festival is now over, and as the hordes depart from Austin, I wanted to bring one last report through (you can see my first and second SXSW reports, as well). Friday and Saturday provided musical highlights of the week for me.

First up on Friday I caught The Vines at the Aussie Barbecue Stage. This was an unplanned surprise, and the timing was near perfect. The Vines put on a fast-paced, raucous set and really delivered the goods. Even though it was only 1:00pm in the afternoon, the tent under which they played really gave it the feeling of a sweaty nightclub, and that was the perfect atmosphere for this show.

Later that day I attended the Film Festival premier of The Rolling Stones’ "Shine a Light," directed by Martin Scorcese. I’ve seen a lot of concert movies, but "Shine a Light" really captured the immediacy and intimacy and... the rock and roll of the show, if you will. Beautifully filmed, the performances were top notch. Normally a purist with the Stones, I actually found myself enjoying the three guest appearances from Buddy Guy, Jack White, and Christina Aguilera just as much as the rest of the show. Definitely worth seeing on the big IMAX screen when it comes out next month.

The evening presented another unplanned surprise when a friend suggested I head down to Antone’s to check out Vampire Weekend. Playing to a packed house (with a line out the door), Vampire Weekend was a refreshing drink of what I’ve decided to call Carribean Power Pop. If you took They Might Be Giants, stranded them on an island in the West Indies, and shook it all around, Vampire Weekend is what might pop out. Absolutely perfectly written songs were energetically delivered by this young, but seasoned, band. If you haven’t heard of them before, go check them out now.

To wrap up Friday night, I headed to Emo’s Annex for The Supersuckers, and caught Blue Cheer (yes, that Blue Cheer, from the 60’s) before them. Unfortunately, the sound was so loud and muddy that vocals were unintelligible throughout the tent, and while The Supersuckers put on an entertaining set, it could have been so much more were the sound better managed. Disappointing, since they were a band I have followed for a while and was looking forward to seeing live.

On Saturday, I didn’t catch the quantity of music that I would have liked due to an unexpected business issue I needed to resolve, but the quality of the music more than made up for it. I went to three shows and saw two acts. At Cedar Street, I was able to catch the semi-surprise showing of Kate Nash and Billy Bragg. Kate played for a while solo, and then Billy Bragg came out and joined her for a few songs at the end. They played and sang brilliantly together, and it was a nice early evening treat.

Finally, I saw The Redwalls on Saturday. Twice. First at Jovita’s for an early-afternoon show as part of Twangfest, and then to cap things off at their official SXSW appearance at The Rio on Saturday night. The Redwalls are a must-listen for any fan of harmony-laden rock and roll. Clearly influenced by The Beatles, they take it and make it their own, playing with conviction and drive that shows it comes right from their hearts.

And that was a perfect way to wrap up the week.

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