Show Cased

The good, the bad and the Mogwai highlight SXSW

Saturday night was the Revolver magazine party. I thought I was really connected to score an invite, but I was just one of more than 500 people there, waiting in the cold and rain for the Cult to take the stage. (Our laminates said the band would start at seven o'clock sharp -- oh, the lies.) Special guests alt-rockers Creeper Lagoon sounded wonderful, despite being rushed. Then the waiting began. When 7:30 rolled around, we began debating why such a has-been band was pulling this rock-star shtick.

Then Ian Astbury took the stage, looking hot in his hooded windbreaker and painted red eyes, and the group launched into a strangely unvaried set. The Cult offered nothing fresh, sadly; all its stuff, whether old or new, sounded the same, although the musicians were seamless in their execution. You would be, too, if you played the same set of chord progressions and drumbeats for nearly 20 years. Seeing the reunited Soft Boys shortly thereafter provided an interesting juxtaposition, though. Robyn Hitchcock and company were the perfect example of how the same four men can continue to make new and interesting sounds. The Cult should borrow a page from the Soft Boys' book.

But it was Mogwai that made my festival. This Scottish quintet is tapped into something nameless and supernatural that makes you feel like nothing in the world matters but the music. I didn't want to see anything or anyone else after seeing Mogwai. Thirty minutes after midnight on Saturday, and I was packing it in -- simply because the band ruined me for any other act. And if I ever run into that idiot who groused, "That's the worst goddamn band I've ever heard" after the final note reverbed into nothingness, I'll be handing him his teeth.

And that, friends, is what fuels one's passion for music and what should drive this festival: those transcendent moments when the only important thing in life is what's coming out of the amps.

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