SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 4: Jakob Dylan and Three Legs (featuring Neko Case)

This is where the weather gods ceased to cooperate, with a storm front moving in overnight that plunged Saturday’s high temperatures into the low 50s. It was a chilly, windy day that felt more like a late autumn football Saturday in Columbus than spring equinox in Austin, but SXSW fans would not be deterred. Rachel Ray’s day party at Stubbs BBQ was the place to be on Saturday afternoon. Free margaritas and bloody Marys were served, along with tasty chicken mini-quesadillas and meatball sandwiches.

Jakob Dylan played a half-hour set with the fabulous Neko Case accompanying him to create a bluesy sound with majestic Americana flavor that seemed to fit the gray afternoon perfectly. The sound was reminiscent of some of Dylan’s father’s recent work, blending a variety of retro flavors for an artful old-school vibe. The younger Dylan’s distinctive rasp sounded great, and even more so with Case harmonizing.

The last song, perhaps titled “Shine Along,” featured some mandolin on a melodic major key tune for a more uplifting vibe. The harmonies between Dylan and Case were superb throughout the set, like two great tastes that tasted even better together. Fans can only hope that these two will continue to work together further.

Jakob Dylan and Three Legs featuring Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, SXSW 2010
Photo by Steve Hopson

  

SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: Hole

6th Street was filled with delightful sonic mayhem in the midnight hour, with music coming from everywhere. A sublime moment occurred when a drum circle’s thriving jam seemed to blend into the band that was rocking out at a nearby bar. Meanwhile, there was a huge line in front of the Dirty Dog Bar where Courtney Love and Hole were scheduled for a 1:00 AM set.

The Dirty Dog was jammed like a sardine can and it was amazing that a fire marshal never came in and broke it up, because there were way too many people in this place. It was apparently the place to be though, with the likes of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey watching the set from the side of the stage. Their entourage even got a security escort to the men’s room, which was probably the only way to get across the packed bar at that point.

Hole opened with a Nirvana-ish tune, followed by “Doll Parts,” which sounded great. The band was tight, but Love’s voice was ragged, which she unfortunately dwelled on throughout the set. The jam-packed conditions were rather uncomfortable for the first 15 to 20 minutes, until some folks gave up and left, at last creating a little elbow room. Love bitched at her guitarist for playing too loud, and harped about it being tough to sing at 1:00 am when you’re a chain smoker.

It seemed like she might call the set at any moment, but she soldiered on, with “Malibu” taking the crowd back to the mid-’90s for one of the era’s most memorable alt-rock hits. The new material had that powerful alt-rock vibe too, suggesting Love hasn’t lost her touch. “Gold Dust Woman” was also well-received, despite Love’s voice, which should have told her to quit bitching and just play through. But instead of acknowledging her voice issues and moving on, Love continued to dwell on it, constantly setting back the vibe of the set. “Worst show of my life. I’m so glad you were here to witness it, now go see a good blues band,” declared Love at the end. Her defeatist attitude and voice-ragging chain smoking sadly don’t seem to bode well for Hole’s big comeback.

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SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: Girl in a Coma

After Muse’s electrifying set, I rushed over to Buffalo Billiards on 6th Street, where San Antone’s grrl power trio were rocking the upstairs hall with their trademark Tex-Mex grunge sound. Guitarist/vocalist Nina Diaz is a truly mesmerizing talent, while sister/drummer Phanie Diaz and bassist Jenn Silva form an increasingly strong rhythmic backbone behind her. The 22-year-old Nina has fronted the band since she was 13 and has added an increasing sonic complexity to her guitar playing, with some nice alt-grunge delay-harmonics on “Pleasure and Pain.” Another song was dedicated to Jeff Buckley and started off with Diaz emoting in a slow and bluesy way before the band moved into a swinging jam.

Another extra special SXSW treat occurred when the band welcomed girl rock pioneer Cherie Currie of the Runaways to the stage for a fabulous sit-in on “Cherry Bomb,” which saw the whole crowd singing along on the classic chorus. Currie looked and sounded fabulous, and the Coma girls were clearly thrilled at the chance to play with one of their idols (The Runaways’ Joan Jett signed the band to her own Blackheart Records label.) “Static Mind” was also a major highlight, with the band rocking out on one of the best cuts from 2009’s superb Trio BC album, blending a Latina rock intro with an alt-rock surge that had the delighted crowd rocking out once more. Girl in a Coma remains a unique band poised for even bigger and better things.

girl in a coma
Photo by Sarah Quiara

  

SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: Muse

This was the big semi-secret headlining slot that had been rumored throughout the week, with a blank in the Friday night Stubbs schedule hinting at a special surprise. Arena headliners Muse did indeed appear at 10 pm (filling the slot held by Metallica last year), and delivered an electrifying set that wowed the packed throng.

The Brit prog-rock power trio hit the stage with the anthemic “Uprising” and never let up throughout a furious 75-minute set that featured the band’s epic laser show dazzling the audience with reflections off the trees and power lines that added an extra level of psychedelia. The band’s mix of influences from Queen to Metallica and Smashing Pumpkins provided one of the hardest hitting sets of the week, yet with a melodically accessible flavor that clearly crosses over to multiple audiences.

As someone who hadn’t caught the band live before, I was taken with how much heavier they sounded live than on record (and was kicking myself for having missed them at Kent State’s Flashfest in 2006). “The Resistance” was another high-energy winner from the band’s new album that combined their hard rock and melodic pop influences together in dynamic fashion. The heavy “Stockholm Syndrome” mixed an ’80s metal flavor with a ’90s grunge influence that was a sonic treat, with guitarist/vocalist Matthew Bellamy’s almost operatic vocals providing an extra grandeur.

Bassist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard made a tight and powerful rhythm section, killing it all night, while Bellamy’s guitar playing simply dazzled time and again throughout the set. “Knights of Cydonia” closed out the show with a galloping jam that thrilled the crowd once more, as the band capped off one of the top highlights of SXSW 2010. It was readily apparent that this is truly one of the best bands on the planet, and it was a rare and special opportunity to catch an arena level headliner in a more intimate setting.

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SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: Metric

Canada’s Metric kicked off the evening at Stubbs BBQ with an 8:00 set before a big crowd that reveled in the band’s power-pop prowess. The group was filling the Friday pre-semi-secret headliner slot that Silversun Pickups had occupied last year when opening for Metallica, and Metric rose to the occasion with an entertaining set that never lagged while the crowd awaited the headlining set from Muse.

Vocalist Emily Haines exuded charm and charisma while dancing around and belting out high-energy tunes like “Sick Muse” and hit single “Help I’m Alive,” which rocked the assembled with its melodic hooks and hard rocking groove. Another tune featured Haines’ teasing the chorus of The Beastie Boys’ “You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party” over a big beat that had lots of sonic space. “We’re just a couple of kids from Toronto and a couple of hometown kids from Texas,” said Haines in the middle of the set. “We’re all just trying keep the dream alive, we’re all here for music… Every day I repeat this to myself and I hope that it’s true.” Haines proceeded to a sing a bit of fellow Canadian Neil Young’s “Hey hey, my my, rock ‘n’ roll will never die… rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay,” striking a chord with everyone in the crowd who felt saved by rock ‘n’ roll, which seemed like most of those in attendance. “Stadium Love” closed out the rousing set with a big arena rock sound, and it sounded like Metric are well on their way to achieving such status.

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