SXSW | 03.21.09 | Austin, TX - Day 4

Words & Images by: Kayceman

SXSW :: 03.19.09 :: Thursday :: Austin, TX

#3

The Mother Hips :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
For the second day of SXSW our #3 slot is a shared affair. Taking place at the reapandsow/Remix party fans were treated to a full day of great music (and lots of pancakes courtesy of Batter Blaster) culminating in sets by The Mother Hips and Red Cortez. The Hips put their California rock on display, tearing through a languid "Red Tandy" that erupted into a huge crunching jam that stayed afloat with their always-stellar harmonies. Tim Bluhm (guitars/vocals) and Greg Loiacono (guitars/vocals) have built the type of musical relationship that's only possible through decades of playing together. Their ability to make subtle harmonic and tempo shifts is unparalleled, and when it's time to bring down the hammer they crunch like Crazy Horse. Also included were a super-funky "Magazine" and the crazy multi-part "Two Young Queens" that went from country hoe-down to knee-breaking funk to fist-pumping rock and back to the hoe-down.

The last time I saw Red Cortez they were The Weather Underground and it was High Sierra. Now they are Red Cortez with a new guitar shredder and renewed purpose, playing leaner and meaner then ever. Having just completed a tour opening stadiums for Morrissey, the band was explosive on this small stage. Moving from guitar to keys, bandleader Harley Prechtel-Cortez has "it." Whatever "it" is that makes someone a star, he's got it. He shimmy moonwalks across the stage, slams around and, like everyone in the band, gives it everything he's got at every moment. Playing their juiced up, rootsy gospel, foot stomping rock they had the crowd shouting and sweating. And it's worth pointing out again that new guitarist Calvin J. Love has certainly filled the shoes left by original axe man Shoichi Bagley, and he does it with huge swinging balls. The distance this band has traveled in one short year (we first saw The Weather Underground at SXSW 2008) is remarkable. We see big things down the line for Red Cortez.

#2

BLK JKS :: SXSW :: Parish :: 03.19.09
It was 2:00 p.m. Everyone was tired from the night before and those who could got into the NPR party, where South Africa's BLK JKS blew The Parish up. Taking tired eyes and turning them into glowing orbs, they eased us in slow with a patient free-jazz canopy equipped with a repetitive bassline and acoustic guitar washing over the top. For the second song, which translated to "Rainbow," the acoustic was traded for an electric and we learned of Lindani Buthelezi's massive six string skills. Searingly psychedelic, Buthelezi led us down fractal hallways where shards of light were poking in, casting strange shadows below. The four-piece band stretched compositions out and then yanked the bottom out, dropping us into squalls of feedback, shattering drums and swirling tornadoes of sound. Playing with the power of rock but with jazz-fusion intelligence, a dub education and hints of their native African roots, when this band is on they are huge. Which brings me to the evening BLK JKS show at The Mohawk. Having been so impressed earlier in the day I decided to check BLK JKS again for their night show. Oddly enough, it wasn't that good. It wasn't bad but it was flat and a bit ragged, not full of the spark I'd found earlier. But, as my astute bass player friend Marc Friedman (of The Slip and Surprise Me Mr. Davis and playing with Marco Benevento this weekend) pointed out, "Sometimes a band only has one big show in them per day." True 'nuff, and I'm sure glad I got the goods when the sun was still in the sky. My closing words on the subject are this: BLK JKS are from South Africa. They can't make it to the States all that often so don't dick it - go see BLK JKS next chance you get.

#1

Jane's Addiction :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
By James Trevenen
Could there be any real competition for the #1 spot? Not when Jane's Addiction is playing the private Playboy party in an abandoned Safeway supermarket with an open bar. It was a fucking blazer. They are a stadium band. They play for tens of thousands of people each night, but at 1:30 a.m. this morning they took the stage in front a few hundred. Coming out with "Three Days," they punched us in the mouth and didn't let up for about 70 minutes. Featuring the original, primal lineup of this band with Eric Avery back on bass, this was a serious treat for even casual Jane's fans. And what Avery does with this music can't be underestimated. The way he and drummer Stephen Perkins beat the shit out of the rhythms but also keep them loose and fun is key to what Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro do on top. And good jeezus, what the fuck kind of vitamins does Dave Navarro take? Dude is out of control. It's not an act - he's every bit the rock star he looks and he is just a monster on the guitar. No matter how many times you've heard the albums or seen him on MTV, standing a couple yards in front of him while he literally blows your hair back is an experience. And here's the linchpin: it's heavy, really heavy, but super sexy. Usually when a band's music gets this close to real heavy rock the chicks start to leave and you end up with a testosterone dude fest. But not at Jane's Addiction - the louder and crazier they get, so do the gals. And with a dozen or so Playboy Bunnies strolling around the sex factor was already bumped up a solid notch or six. Tossing grenade after grenade into the crowd they played "Ain't No Right," "Whores," "Standing In the Shower... Thinking," a nasty "Sex Is Violent," "Been Caught Stealing" and a huge "Mountain Song" that crushed our skulls to close the set. After a very brief break they came back out with more chainsaw guitars and backbreaking drum fills for "Ocean Size" and "Stop." If there was any question about Jane's power and the upcoming tour with Nine Inch Nails they have been answered - go to the rock show, you won't be sorry.

Red Cortez
BLK JKS night show at Mohawk
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Big Boi in the house by James Trevenen

Continue reading for Sarah Hagerman's SXSW Day 2 highlights...


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