Soundcheck: Nicks SXSW

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Published March 27, 2009

 

All week I’ve listened to my fellow music journalists talk about how tired they are after attending SXSW last week in Austin. For about two seconds I was jealous when everyone kept telling me how much fun they had (free beer flows like water in Austin, Texas, I hear), but I got over it when I realized that I’d seen almost all of this year’s buzz bands play already on their inevitable New York showcase. So I did something much better last week than chug corporate-sponsored booze and see the same bands on repeat. I went to see Fleetwood Mac.

I’ve been to enough reunion shows to know that nostalgia can come at a price—expensive tickets, depressingly rote performances of old songs that make you yearn for a time machine. (Seeing the Beach Boys play at a state fair with only one original member springs to mind, as does an ill-fated Echo and the Bunnymen show a few years back.) But the Mac were great, even pushing 60 and less a certain Christine McVie. I would have enjoyed the show anyway, but the band has never sounded better and everyone looked great. Stevie twirled in a variety of shawls; Lindsey had an epic guitar solo on “Oh Well” and I cried real tears on two different times (During “Sara” and “Silver Springs”). It was a testament to the staying power of Fleetwood Mac that Madison Square Garden—not the most youthful of venues, after all—was filled with young people just as familiar with Fleet Foxes as with Fleetwood Mac. My cold heart was warmed.

The other highlight of my week involved receiving a variety of packages in the mail. Advance copies of forthcoming albums by Dirty Projectors and The Thermals (awesome and awesome, respectively) courtesy their kind publicists; a nice set of salt and pepper shakers shaped like CATS courtesy my mom (LEFT); and a box from the very kind Will Oldham, who sent me records after finding out during our recent interview that I lost my old Palace Brothers and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy albums in a house fire. This prompted me to revisit his back catalog, and I was reminded of just how amazingly beautiful Palace Music is. If I could play guitar or carry a tune I would be covering “Gulf Shores” and/or “West Palm Beach” at coffee shops across the city. Speaking of Dirty Projectors, Bjork will be collaborating with the Brooklyn-based band for a performance at Housing Works—a collaboration to cap the week, if ever there were. The upside is that you’ll be able to see two strangely like-minded artists performing all-new material together for the first time (with all proceeds going to benefit Housing Works, obviously). The downside? Housing Works is a bookstore, not an actual venue, which means that only about 300 tickets will be sold. All interested parties should immediately take to the Internet if they hope to snag some standing room at the show.

Bjork and Dirty Projectors will play at Housing Works on May 8. Housing Works is located at 126 Crosby Street, New York.