SXSW Wednesday Night: A Young Old Lady, And An Old Young Man

19 03 2009

What a night! I arrived just in time for Jessica Lea Mayfield at The Parish. The 19 year old from Kent, Ohio is an old soul. Drawing from the classic country of Lorretta and Patsy, Mayfield was much more understated than I expected. I think that’s because of some publicity shots I saw that made her look like an emo girl hanging out at The Dairy Queen. She’s an amazing talent.

From there it was Emo’s. The line snaked down sixth street and it didn’t seem possible I would get in to see So. Cal punk legends Circle Jerks. They managed to cram us in there somehow though. A few years back Keith Morris was on death’s door as I understand it. Today balding but unbowed with confused ass length dread locks swinging Morris was in top form. Joined by Zander Schloss on bass and fellow founding Jerk Greg Hetson on guitar the band rolled one boulder down the mountain after the other. I have to say I was shocked at how great they were. Morris was one of Black Flag’s pre Henry Rollins frontmen and The Jerks even treated us to an encore of Black Flag classics including the essential “Gimme Gimme Gimme!” I didn’t partake, but I could tell many punk rock vets in the audience slam danced for the first time since the 80’s. That show is not to be forgotten.

Only one thing stood in the way of seeing Echo & The Bunnymen late night at Emo’s, and that was Julliete Lewis. The Licks are gone now along with the her spandex. These days Lewis seems to have ripped off a costume from the Minot Community Players Production of “Chicago” and is doing an alarming combination of Janis Joplin, Bette Midler and Cher. Her band The New Romantiques was fine, but they looked bored. Here’s the deal. Musicians can dabble in acting and enhance their reputations. (Tom Waits, John Doe, hell even Dave Matthews) but when actors like Lewis (who seems to have abandoned movies) make records and perform I can’t escape the suspicion that it’s all a put on, and that I am being acted all over. Probably not fair, but tough shit right.

After Lewis Echo & The Bunnymen’s crew fussed and prodded. I imagine working for a diva like Ian McCulloch ain’t easy. Echo are one of my all time favorite bands and I actually enjoy Mac’s insufferability. It’s part of the package. He did not disappoint. Dressed in a zip up sweater topped with a dark wool sailor coat the lights were kept so low that the pouty frontman could not possibly sweat.

The Bunnymen are now two with slashing guitarist Will Sergeant alongside. The three sidemen were able fill-ins for long departed bass player Les Pattinson and the late drummer Pete de Freitas. The band kept to their best loved songs, hitting tracks from Crocodiles, Porcupine, and Ocean Rain mostly…. with “Lips Like Sugar” in the encore and only one new song in the whole set. Aside from Mac’s between song mumbling it was a great show.

Brian Phillips




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