Greetings from SXSW!
Friday was a crazy day down in Austin! It would be most appropriate to dub this day “The Day of Bruce,” since most of the festivities centered around the rock icon’s keynote address and impending performance, exclusive to those lucky SXSW badge holder winners (three lucky WSOU crew members included!)
Getting into the music side of things, since we have already discussed The Boss’s fantastic keynote address from the Austin Convention Center, myself and The Brooklyn Dodger, joined by WSOU alumni That Guy and Jen, headed over to Maggie Mae’s rooftop bar for a special acoustic set by Campus Buzz favorite Kevin Devine. As we said earlier when we saw Kevin live at Lambert’s on Wednesday, it is incredibly difficult to top his high-energy and gut-wrenching lyrics, and we aren’t the only ones who think so. Many of those in attendance had seen his show the night prior and showed up for another chance to see the young performer out of Brooklyn shine in a solo acoustic set. While I personally prefer him with back-up and full instrumentals, Kevin Devine can rock anything, anywhere.
The Kevin Devine warm-up led to myself, The Brooklyn Dodger and our trusty engineer Frank trekking blocks across Austin to the ACL Live at the Moody Theater for our coveted exclusive-access performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Upon arrival, we discovered that we wouldn’t get to see The Boss quite as quickly as we had hoped, and wound up enduring over two hours of mediocre (and often overly depressing) opening bands. Between the two, let’s just say the sets were completely forgettable and we can’t even recall what the bands are called. Needless to say, these were two acts certainly unworthy of opening for a high-octane rock legend such as Springsteen.
Cue The Boss and the E Street Band taking the stage – finally! And the atmosphere could not have been more perfect for the occasion – a sold out crowd, high energy and a particularly riveting performance by Springsteen himself. Lucky enough to be in the front row, only feet from the stage, the WSOU crew was lucky enough, on several occasions, to see Springsteen come within two or three feet as he interacted with the crowd while belting any one of his rock anthems…or when he wound up crowd surfing (more than once) over screaming fans, desperate to get close to the rock legend.
WSOU was particularly excited to see Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello take the stage for several songs, shredding the guitar with Springsteen. Morello, who is known for his skill with a guitar, was absolutely insane in several solos, leaving the crowd screaming for more. It’s safe to say that, between Springsteen and Morello, no act within the Austin city limits could compare as far as skill on a guitar is concerned. Our minds are still blown from seeing what Morello was able to do. Maybe someone YouTubed it and Morello can blow your mind too.
The set, which overall lasted over three hours, featured several of Springsteen’s hits, including music off his latest album. Whether they were new or old songs, the crowd was singing along to everyone, and the E Street Band (who was only playing together for the second time as that particular group) was flawless. They brought even more energy, passion and raw musical talent to a show that was already bleeding profusely from being overwhelmed by raw artistry and musical ecstasy.
Springsteen certainly left his mark on Austin, and, without a doubt, the crew at WSOU. Without a doubt, seeing The Boss will go down as the most iconic, unforgettable experience anyone in attendance will have during their time at SXSW. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still good music to be seen!
Stay tuned for additional coverage of local shows taking place tonight, including indie-folk trio Good Old War and another performance (fingers crossed technical difficulty free) by red hot sensation fun. Also listen in to WSOU later this evening between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. for a special on-air report live from Austin!