Thursday, March 14, 2013

SXSW: Day Two

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Nick Cave knows how to bring the creepshow.
  • Josh Gross
  • Nick Cave knows how to bring the creepshow.

I'd hoped to catch The Neal Pollack Invasion at The Chicken Ranch Records Showcase at
Hickory Street. After reading his book, Never Mind the Pollacks, a fantastical fake memoir in which he inserts himself as a sidekick or unrecognized genius that meanders between every pivotal moment in the history of rock and roll, I was sure it was going to be strange. But the Austin traffic had other plans.

Instead, I had to head straight to Stubb's to catch the NPR showcase.

When I got there, creepster legend Nick Cave was still onstage, red right hand and all.

His performance was unexpected. On record, Cave's music doesn't sound tremendously kinetic or dynamic. Sometimes it's downright dull, getting by on the morbid cowboy poetry lyrics. But he brought it to life onstage, his thin frame bouncing all over the stage like a cartoon scarecrow, and his band bringing dynamic changes and accents to light that added to the storytelling nature of Cave's songs.

I hadn't been tremendously interested in seeing Cave, just got there early enough to do so. I'm glad I made that mistake. Never mind the Pollacks.

After Cave was Cafe Tacvba, a Mexican rock band seemingly lost in the time it first emerged: the '90s. It played a mix of rock songs, "sensual" ska numbers and weird soft-porn style funk, heavy on the wah pedal and synth strings. At first it seemed tremendously out of place, then I realized they must take the phrase "all songs considered," pretty literally.

There was also an incredibly strange dance number mixed in and choice banter from the frontman, including asking the audience to join in "a common hug," and to join the band in an "evening of music and pleasure."

After that was The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who brought some much needed noise to the classy affair. The band dressed in black, but front lass Karen O was clad in a sparkled boa, prancing around the stage screeching and lurching through hits and new material from the band's forthcoming album, Mosquito. The show was heavy on lights, including a wicked-sweet headlamp worn by Lady O for a song or two that really brought out an extra layer of creepy alienness to her already bizarre onstage persona.

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