Story and Photos by Andy ArgyrakisWeary after partying the night before and having three day's worth of non-stop live music take its toll, concertgoers started Saturday off on a slow note. Few, if any, events started before the noon hour as attendees slept in and saved up their energy for the final night of their musical extravaganza. Despite most out of town visitors having to hit the road in the morning, concerts continued into the wee hours, attracting flocks of faithful looking to maximize their 2003 SxSW experience. Here's a look at some of the final day's events:
Camper Van Beethoven - Antone's
After more than a decade off the road, the alt country rock indie gods Camper Van Beethoven returned to touring this spring. With their cult following in tow, CVB ran a scheduling marathon at SxSW turning in a Waterloo Records performance/signing, an evening showcase at La Zona Rosa, plus dinner and a concert for invited guests at Antone's. During the course of that 45 minute VIP set, the humorous hell raisers made up for their lengthy absence from the spotlight with their satirical sonnets and super charged sarcasm.
Joe Jackson Band - Town Lake Stage
When the reunited Joe Jackson Band sang its biggest hit "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" it was like a flashback to the early '80s when this singer/songwriter was full of chiding pop/punk spunk. Of course, that take was most familiar to fans in Jackson's outdoor show, as the rest of his material (from the brand new "Volume 4" disc) was entirely uninteresting. A far cry from the Joe Jackson Band's sizzling debut 25 years ago ("Look Sharp") new material found the front man mellowed out in his middle age melancholy and nestled into the complacency zone that has plagued many from his graying generation.
The Polyphonic Spree - Austin Music Hall
Unless you've seen The Polyphonic Spree in concert, a written description couldn't possible do the experience justice. With 24 members in all spread out across a hearty rhythm section, luminous choir, harp player, and exhaustive brass section these Dallas, Texans could only be explained as, well, a polyphonic spree! The group's larger than life sound intertwined psychedelic jam band like qualities (without stooping to the stupidity levels of say Phish) with gospel flavored moments over an obvious appreciation for classical composition. In a week full of garage and retro rockers, punk bands, and acoustic troubadours, it was refreshing to see a group that defies classification.
Concrete Blonde - Town Lake Stage
The Peak Show
These mid-'80s undergrounders have been unfairly tagged as one hit wonders thanks to their MTV dominating hit "Joey." Regardless of the public's lack of significant appreciation, Concrete Blonde's core duo is as solid as a rock and capable of engaging their listener even if their other songs never reached the hit single heights of "Joey." Vocalist Johnette Napolitano performed with glorious bluster while guitarist Jim Mankey maintained his cool, calm, and collective reputation. The two are virtually connected at the hip when it comes to their musical endeavors and their flow between all out rockers and subdued pop reflections was seamless.
Supergrass - AStubb's BBQ
Oxford's Supergrass has earned international acceptance throughout the span of four albums and eight years on the road. Saturday night's set revolved mostly around their brand spankin' new project "Life On Other Planets," known for its fine merger of Brit-pop and melodic rock. On stage, Supergrass certainly lived up to their typical "cool" factor, but not in a cocky or condescending way towards its audience. Instead, they used that attitude as a medium to forcefully drive home high quality song structuring, which often times included joyous harmonies, vivid instrumentation, and life affirming messages.
The Peak Show - Hard Rock Cafe
After an entertaining but exhaustive week's worth of shows, there was no better way to end than on a high note with Los Angeles based party band The Peak Show. The female fronted dance/rock quintet showed style and grace as they delivered evening ending grooves that crossed the worlds of the Supreme Beings of Leisure and No Doubt. At times the group rode on the crest of high-octane bass laden bounce followed by steamy, sultry grooves capable of making even the most exhausted festival attendee sway to the sounds. This group seeps with star power, and although they've yet to release an official label debut, a recent inking with Atlantic promises one will arrive by summer.
That's all for ConcertLivewire's 2003 coverage! If you're looking for the official wrap up, log onto www.sxsw.com.
Check out: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3
The Polyphonic Spree
Camper Van Beethoven
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