As the first night of SXSW 2010 got underway a pall came over the crowd, at least from those who had been glued to their smart phones by the news of the passing of Big Star lead singer Alex Chilton in New Orleans. The influential power-pop band was due to close out the festival on Saturday night at Antone's. (No official word has come down, but everyone expects some sort of Chilton tribute to take Big Star's place.) We started our night out at Palm Door, a new offshoot of hipster ground zero Beauty Bar. If the glittered BB is an American Apparel dance mecca, then Palm Door is cowboy-booted honky-tonk. The Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson headlined the night at the venue with her new backing band, Green Corn Revival.
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She was spry and energized, even if half the time she was covered by an obstinate pole in the middle of the stage. Seeing her backed by a younger group was an echo of the set Roky Erickson had with Okkervil River just hours before. Fresh blood breeds new life in older artists. We're looking at you, Mick and Keith. Next up for us was Mariachi El Bronx, punk band turned mariachis from Los Angeles. We hung with them earlier in the day for a video shoot and followed them to Emo's Main Room around ten. They may now don extravagant charro suits, but they can wail with the best of the trads of their new genre. It's fun stuff, especially "Cellmates."