Best thing I saw: Band of Horses at Stubb’s. I am a big fan of bands opening shows with their best song. I think they all should do it. So when Band of Horses opened with “Is There a Ghost,” the best song off their last album, Cease to Begin, and probably the best song they’ll ever do (a compliment, not criticism), well, I probably don’t really have to actually finish this sentence for you because I would be repeating myself. Ben Bridwell has a great voice for playing under the stars — I imagine he echoes in casual conversation — and the songs are fantastic for this environment as well, all crescendo, build up and release. I’m also a big fan of bands that end with a cover. Band of Horses obliged in that regard as well: Yo La Tengo’s “Sugarcube.”
Other highlights: F—ed Up on the Beerland patio, running through a blessedly ragged set of originals and shrugging covers (a verse and chorus of Nirvana’s “Breed,” for example before moving on to whatever) that closed out a tribute to the late Jay Reatard; Superchunk at Cedar Street Courtyard (they were the surprise guests at the Merge showcase that surprised only the guy in line behind me); the end of Drive-By Truckers‘ set and the beginning of Broken Social Scene‘s; Man or Astro-Man? bringing it all full circle for me at Club DeVille (they were one of the first bands at saw at my first SXSW [inaudible] years ago. Which ended, as I remembered, with fire. I could have been imagining that, as I didn’t sit down for 12 hours and heroically kept drinking.
Something average: The xx live. Meh.
Worst thing I saw: The bare, tubby, sweaty, hairy torso of Pink Eyes, the singer for F—ed Up; getting dragged to a Stone Temple Pilots album listening party — 1) I am a great friend, and 2) I was able to leave 2 minutes in — and hearing Scott Weiland refer to his band’s “legacy.” Absolutely chilling.