Woody’s Top 10 Performances of SXSW ’08

by Woody on March 26, 2008

sxswYou ever have one of these weekends where everything falls into place? That was my SXSW weekend. Can’t find a cab? Bus pulls up. Cabbie screws you over? Random electrician guy drives you across town. Great performances, great people, awesome weekend. In a weekend filled with top-notch performances, here are my top 10.

1. Ha Ha Tonka – Yard Dog: The Bloodshot BBQ was a blast. Got to see Firewater for the first time and many other acts again. Oh, and there was unlimited Shiner on tap for free. Ha Ha Tonka was on a whole different planet. The Ozark foursome are at ease with each other and lead singer Brian Roberts has something special that keeps you hanging on every word.

2. The Whipsaws followed by The Whipsaws & Tim Easton – Jovita’s: I have been digging the Whipsaws disc for a couple of weeks now, but in no way was I prepared for their live performance. They were a well-oiled machine and delivered in a way that left my mouth agape. They followed by backing up Tim Easton, who was equally fantastic.

3. Okkervil River – Stubbs: In what was supposed to be my swan-song for the festival, Okkervil River delivered a killer set for the big audience at Stubb’s. The running joke with my buddy Nick is that he owes me a slow dance when they play “Girl In a Port.” Once again, he didn’t deliver but I did get to meet Will Sheff. I still haven’t washed my hand.

4. Port O’Brien – Flamingo Cantina: We would have missed this if it wasn’t for the kindness of the aforementioned electrician. Thankfully he saved the day. The new songs were awesome and hearing “A Bird Flies By” live was well worth bouncing around the back of a windowless van with various power tools.

5. The Sword & Howlin Rain – Spiderhouse Cafe: The Howlin’ Rain disc is probably my favorite so far this year. They were great, make no mistake about it, but seeing The Sword on their home turf was amazing. It was like seeing Metallica in a garage. The place was going crazy as the local boys delivered in every aspect.

6. Delta Spirit – As I mentioned before, this was a labor of love. I desperately wanted to see them, but I was equally desperate to get horizontal and find sleep. For them to put on such a high-energy performance after 5-6 gigs in four days was something else. Closing my fest with “People, Turn Around” practically left me dancing down 6th St.

7. Plants and Animals – Homeslice Pizza: We snuck out of the Bloodshot BBQ to catch the Montreal threesome. I got to sit down, drink some local brew and watch a truly unique band blow my mind. Loved the three-piece harmonies.

8. The Fleet Foxes – Emo’s Jr – I literally sprinted down the street to make it for these guys. Well worth the effort as they delivered some sweet harmonies. Say hello to Sub Pop’s newest monster band.

9. Radio Moscow & The Trainwreck Riders – Fado Patio: Our love for both bands is well documented. Both delivered fantastic sets, complete with new tunes.

10. Dead Confederate – 40 Watt Party: Their set was short, they had difficulties with a dead amp, and they called themselves Vampire Weekend. But standing five feet in front of them as they tore through “The Rat” was very cool. These guys are going to be huge once their LP comes out.

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