On Friday night in Austin, something very weird, maybe even life altering, happened: Metallica and Devo played inspired concerts in the same Texas town, only a 15-minute walk apart, and almost perfectly back to back.
It made for one of those bizarro nights in rock history that may end up influencing a generation of young musicians we have never heard from yet, but will cite Friday, March 20, 2009, as the day nothing would ever be the same. And if things shake out that way, the world should prepare itself for something very, very special in the next six, maybe 12 or 18 months.
Maybe it's wishful thinking, but unlike other music festivals,
South by Southwest is not only about fans seeing bands, but bands from around the world
seeing each other. And it's no doubt a thing or two is learned in the
Who knows what someone will pick up from Metallica and Devo, but if there's anything a student of rock may notice it's that following your vision to the very gritty end, and then letting it all hang out in the music and on the stage, is the only way to go. It's no time for timidity, no time for posing.
And maybe a little humility mixed with a true appreciation for the personal power that rock 'n' roll can unleash will also work its way into that music of the future. James Hetfield, for example, couldn't stop tipping his hat to South by Southwest in between songs at Metallica's thrashing, hour-plus set at Stubb's Bar-B-Q.
"Thanks for letting us join your party," the lead singer told the jammed-pack crowd last night.
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Over at Austin Music Hall on the other side of town, just a half-hour or so after Metallica played their last song, Devo literally whipped up the crowd with a sensational set that made one young dude on the floor say to his friend, "That's the best thing I've seen in quite sometime."
Mark Mothersbaugh would've been relieved, and probably excited. Dressed up for the last song as "Booji Boy," Mothersbaugh told the crowd, "We were a little nervous because there's 2,000 bands here. 2,000. And we were wondering what you guys would be like...but I gotta tell you. We love you. It's a beautiful world for you!"
And with that send off for all those musos standing before him, Devo's lead singer bounced handfuls of small rubber balls into the audience. For someone who caught both shows on Friday night, their world, and possibly ours, had mostly definitely changed.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.