Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sound City Players at SXSW - Final Performance, Live at Stubb's, 3/14/13

Other than Prince, this year's official main SXSW Music attraction was Dave Grohl. The former drummer of Nirvana and leader of Foo Fighters, Grohl was invited to give the keynote speech during the Music portion of SXSW, joining such rock icons as Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, and Smokey Robinson. Not only did Grohl give a great speech, but he also brought his most recent music project, Sound City Players, to an exclusive show at Stubb's that featured Grohl on guitar and drums for over 3 hours as he paid tribute to music history. The show included seven sets that each showcased one or more musicians in a roller coaster of genres.

This was definitely a special show: the Sound City Players project is probably short-lived and has only included a handful of performances in small venues. The SXSW show is likely the last one, according to Rolling Stone. 

Starting the show off with an engaging performance by The Meat Puppets was an excellent choice by Grohl, as the aging rockers included in their set the several songs of theirs that were featured in Nirvana's unbelievable Unplugged performance, such as 'Lake of Fire'. It was a good night to arrive early, because both The Meat Puppets and Sound City Players started their sets around 30 minutes earlier than had been announced on the schedule, leading to a much earlier finish time (midnight) than we expected (2 am) - always a nice surprise on a weeknight of a multi-day festival.

Grohl came out and gave a short introduction into the purpose of the show, which was inspired by the Sound City documentary he produced that details the history of the famous California recording studio, before launching into a rocking set with Alain Johannes of Queens of the Stone Age with some killer guitar solos.

The obvious highlight of the show came sooner than expected, as Stevie Nicks' set was moved from its prior position as the final set to the second slot of the show, surprising more than a few huge fans who were really there to see her. I'll be the first to admit I am a huge Nicks fan, so I'm biased here, but her mere presence seemed to take the show to another level. Her hit-filled set produced the most sing-alongs, including a beautiful duet of the classic duet 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around' with Grohl on Petty's part, and a show-stopping, full band blowout of 'Gold Dust Woman' to finish her set.

Anticipated sets by John Fogerty and Rick Springfield met the mark, but did not deliver much of anything particularly memorable, other than a 2 minute guitar solo by Fogerty and a solid 'Proud Mary'. The strangest performances of the night featured Lee Ving of Fear, which may not have been the best fit for this crowd, though I suppose you could say he pulled off what he set out to accomplish.

Major props to Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters for his flawless drum work across the evening, and even letting himself be pulled in to a duet of Cheap Trick's hit 'I Want You to Want Me', with Corey Taylor of Slipknot (with Rick Nielsen on guitar, of course). This alone explains the "cool" factor that transcended the entire show. And the ribbon that tied it all together was the pure joy Grohl was experiencing on that stage with all of his guests.

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