Nothing cures hipster fatigue like watching a couple thousand people, many badge-free civilians, throw devil horns in the general direction of Lemmy Kilmister, who looks exactly like he did 30 years ago: awesome and terrifying and haggard. Seemed odd to leave out "Eat the Rich" during an industry show, though. Overheard afterwards: "Doesn't look like anyone in Austin is gonna be able to get their car fixed today."
Jay Reatard, French Legation Museum
The volatile 27-year-old Memphis punk-savant and recent Matador signee tossed his guitar down and stormed from the stage after only 15 minutes, while his drummer and bassist (looks like the Melvins' King Buzzo) let the feedback linger another minute before mercifully turning the amps off. Thing is, he still managed to tear through maybe eight songs. Take the time to seek him out -- you won't need much of it.
Times New Viking, French Legation Museum
On their third album Rip It Off, this Columbus, Ohio trio's songs sound like the Guided By Voices tracks people generally skip through -- hissy, hiccuppy, occasionally impenetrable. Live, that's not the case. Adam Elliott plays drums and sings at the same time (just like Don Henley!), sharing vocals with keyboardist Beth Murphy, while guitarist Jared Phillips makes a racket, and the full-bodied sound is a revelation to anyone skeptical about their songcraft.
Wussy, Bourbon Rocks
"That actually was a song about having sex in a car at South by Southwest," says guitarist and singer Lisa Walker after finishing the mid-tempo "Jonah," from last year's underrated sophomore album Left For Dead. "I don't usually explain that part, but..." Though this Cincinnati quartet debuted a couple years ago, best known as the new band from the beloved Ass Ponys' Chuck Cleaver, it's now Walker's show, leavening the songs' darkly romantic dysfunction with a little good old-fashioned sex appeal. This is no one's idea of a buzz-band showcase, yet the other 4,376 bands in Austin right now would have a tough time topping Cleaver's set-closing couplet: "That yellow cotton dress is beautiful, no doubt / But it becomes a motherfucker when you fill it out."
My Morning Jacket, Austin Music Hall
Much like R.E.M. a night earlier, the (Jim) James gang used their South by Southwest show to try out material from a soon-to-be-released album. Opening with the title track to Evil Urges, due in June, the new material's weirder flourishes (the modulated vocals on "Highly Suspicious," for starters) actually blended in seamlessly with the Kentucky quintet's (slightly) older stuff like "Off the Record" and "Gideon." "I'm Amazed" and "Aluminum Park" were also standouts among the new songs, but the capacity crowd thinned a bit once the set went past the hour mark. (Maybe people can't stay up past midnight anymore? Maybe they're just so accustomed to 35-minute run-and-gun sets that a full show feels like a marathon?) My Morning Jacket stand to take back the term "jam band" from the noodle-limbed likes of Widespread Panic and their spawn, proving, as Wilco have, that a rootsy American band can unload and spread out without sounding wanky, or worse, boring.