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March 18, 2007

Best Fake Birthday Ever

I just got back from Austin, and the most perfect cap to SXSW I could ever have hoped for. After the Theater Fire show, Curtis and Valerie and Jeff and Priya and I all went to get in line for the Jandeck show at the historic Presbyterian Church where exactly a year ago we saw the Anti Records showcase. Two hours later, we got inside and made it to the very front pew - the best seats in the house. Jandek walked out (for what was, I believe, his twenty-fourth show ever), wordlessly slung his guitar over his shouder and then proceeded to deafen the audience with songs that sounded a lot like what Scott Walker might have ended up making if he'd never made that detour into pop stardom. Raw, discordant noise that somehow catches hold of just enough form every few measures to maintain a sense of progression (and escalating dread).

Then it was time for Bill Callahan to perform - but before he did, the crew wheeled a grand piano into the aisle, right in front of our pew. We had an inkling of a premonition as to who might be playing it; and sure enough, as Callahan walked out on stage, Joanna Newsom stepped down into the aisle and sat down at the piano, about a foot away from us.


And then she started to play. I don't know how to express how amazing it was. The new Smog songs were incredibly beautiful (especially Sycamore), but Bill Callahan almost seemed more like backup to the performance that was going on right in front of us.

The set only lasted thirty minutes or so; another act was going to come on, but we were all pretty sure that the evening couldn't be improved upon, and so we left, still clinging to cloud nine. I passed Matt Dentler in the street a little while later and tried to say hi, but was in too much of a daze to really get any coherent sentence out (Dentler, in case you read this, I promise I wasn't as inebriated as I imagine I sounded).

And now I'm home, about ready to fall asleep. Another SXSW come and gone. I'll have more reviews and anecdotes (and more festival news) in the near future; in the meantime, I'm going to go to sleep and try to dream myself back to earlier this evening.

Posted by David Lowery at March 18, 2007 03:39 AM


When I went to Wheatsville before leaving Austin Joanna was in line directly in front of me. It was awkward though 'cos she was buying maxi-pads and iron supplements.

Posted by: jmj at March 18, 2007 10:14 PM

Man, I wish I would have gone to that show, it sounds great. I keep missing Callahan for this reason or that. I don't know what time your show was... I was probably watching Tim and Eric or something ridiculous.

It's almost evil that sxsw has so much going on all at once.

Posted by: Regularkarate at March 21, 2007 11:40 AM