SPIN magazine’s annual party at SXSW is among the most highly sought-after laminates at the festival — if not for the schmooze for the booze, and if not for either of those for the musical lineup, which routinely features some glossy-worthy stars mixed with acts actually interesting enough to interrupt the attendees’ gossip sessions.
On Friday at Stubb’s, the party had to thank the punk-rock gods for Keith Morris, whose set fronting the new quartet OFF! fairly stole the show, much the same way F*cked Up did last year. Sure, there were other highlights, as well as hiccups (besides the ones the drink sponsor’s alcoholic lemonade gave us). Here goes:
OFF! — Morris and bandmates Dimitri Coats, Steven McDonald and Mario Rubalcaba (all of whom sport resumés longer than the frontman’s dreadlocks) do tight, old-school punk songs, some of which clock in at around 1 minute. “We have 10 minutes left?” Morris told the sound guy late in the set. “We could play 18 songs in 10 minutes.” They probably could, and they would shred. But there would be no time for Morris’ between-song lectures, which are often as entertaining as the songs. On Friday, he hilariously blamed McDonald’s original band, Redd Kross, for spawning the Hot Topic generation; he talked about bands that suck; and he eulogized his best friend, the Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce, who died 15 years ago this month. “I’m an older guy,” said Morris, 55, “and as an older guy I think I’ve earned the right to sing a eulogy to one of my best friends.” Best, though, was when Morris imagined what it would be like if OFF! were asked to perform at the Super Bowl. The halftime show could include the lynching of politicians, he said. And then OFF! could play “our most uplifting song, ‘F*ck People.’”
OMD — If Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark were still smarting from Thursday night’s disaster at Maggie Mae’s (in an audacious show of disrespect, even with the sets running late, the venue turned off the synth-pop standard-bearers in the middle of “Enola Gay”), it didn’t show. Moby guested with the band, and spirits (not to mention nostalgia) were high. “All of a sudden you’re 18 and at a high school prom, aren’t you?” Andy McCluskey said. For those who remember 1980, maybe.
TV on the Radio — The sextet did everything a headliner was supposed to do. Their shapeshifting hits roared across the amphitheater, with frontman Tunde Adebimpe in command. “Nine Types of Light,” TVOTR’s follow-up to 2008′s acclaimed “Dear Science,” will be out April 12.
The Kills — Sound problems confounded the duo’s set, and you’d think from acid level in Jamie Hince’s voice that this kind of thing had never happened before, or that the band wasn’t cashing a nice paycheck to play for SPIN. “This is why we hate playing sponsored parties in the daytime,” Hince said. “Come see us at night.” Or better yet, bust out that Dead Weather album.
Wolfgang Gartner — Rule of thumb: If you ask a prime house DJ to perform between live sets, don’t sound-check the next band over the top of what the DJ is spinning. Yes, that was why Mr. Gartner flipped off the sound booth.
Young the Giant — Performing on the second stage, frontman Sadeer Gadhia led his O.C. quintet through a short, emotionally charged set of their indie anthems, and the consensus of those who sweated, shoulder to shoulder, in the smaller space is that YTG could easily have carried the outdoor stage.
Top photo by Bronson; others by Scott Dudelson