The span of South by Southwest is so huge that sometimes the festival can be about the bands you miss as much as the ones you see. After the hectic Thursday on the streets, bars and venues of Austin, Texas, the All Songs Considered crew regrouped to recount the long walks, long lines, tough decisions, missed opportunities and happy accidents of day three.
Robin Hilton traded seeing a large number of shows for a rare opportunity: seeing The Flaming Lips set aside their confetti cannons for an intimate and stripped-down performance of their 2002 album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The show was so packed that there was still a line when it ended. (If you missed it, hopefully we'll be able to share it with you soon.)
Stephen Thompson's "walking to rocking ratio" was off for much of the day, leaving him repeatedly catching only the last glimpses of many sets. Skinny Lister's performance in a hotel lobby was a short but sweet highlight, and visions of future Grammys filled Stephen's head during Lianne La Havas's performance. One unadulterated highlight was finally catching beloved Detroit proto-punk band Death, who dropped out of the music scene for decades before re-emerging in 2009.
If Stephen's day was dominated by walking, Ann Powers's tipped toward talking. She caught Dave Grohl's keynote address and interviewed Stevie Nicks, then in the evening caught the two speakers playing together in a concert by Grohl's Sound City Players. Mississippi based gospel trio Como Mamas "sanctified" her night with their African-tinged a cappella, while The Skatalites brought some skilled and spirited inter-generational ska to the mix.
Bob Boilen also took some time to watch Grohl's keynote, which he recommends to anyone who is searching for their own place in life. His other highlights included the hypnotic sounds of Mali's Terakaft, the "unbelievable" goth-meets-LCD Soundsystem sound of K-X-P. Icky Blossoms' powerful stage presence won them the title of the best rock band he saw all day.