Thursday, March 15, 2012

SXSW Wednesday Dispatch: Cities Aviv, Alabama Shakes, Todd Snider

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 10:43 AM

The theme for this, my seventh trip to Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival, seems to be “early.”

For the first time, I had an early Wednesday night set — Memphis rapper Cities Aviv at the Lustre Pearl — on my agenda, which meant driving straight from Memphis to the Austin Convention Center with no time to settle in and have a meal.

And for the first time I've got early — which, here, means around noon — commitments today and tomorrow related to next week's Flyer cover story from the festival.

The latter means my usual daily blog posts are going to be brief this year, at least until Saturday.

My opening night itinerary played out like this: Cities Aviv stalking the stage with local DJ veteran Luke “Redeye Jedi” Sexton manning the music behind him. Kenyans Sauti Sol grooving in unison at Flamingo Cantina. Sharon Van Etten closing out her NPR set at Stubb's with the powerhouse “Serpents.” On-the-come band Alabama Shakes doing a modern garage-rock spin on “Aretha at Muscle Shoals” on the strength of utterly charming frontwoman Brittany Howard, also at Stubb's. Onetime Memphian Todd Snider debuting his new album and new band at with a spirited set at St. David's Sanctuary, not seeming to notice the incongruity of playing music from Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables at a church. And then a wild finish by indie-punk New Jersey band Titus Andronicus at Bar 96, who opened their set with a fiercely committed by still funny cover of Thin Lizzy's “The Boys are Back in Town” (with the drummer taking the second verse) and closed it with a blistering medley of “Travelin' Band” (CCR), “Good Golly Miss Molly” (Little Richard), and “Roll Over Beethovan” (Chuck Berry), playing some very promising new material in between.

Today, I'm starting out with locals Lucero, who are playing a party for their management company, Red Light, at Stubb's in the early afternoon. My night plans, however, have been thrown for a loop. I initially targeted Fiona Apple and Memphis rapper Don Trip in the early evening, but it turns out I won a drawing for a Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band show at the Moody Theater. Can't turn that down. Trip's got three shows scheduled for Friday night, so he can wait.

And, now, back into the mess.

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