SXSW Music Day 4: Highlights – MOG Showcase + Norah Jones

At the MOG Showcase, Bob Mould joined the likes of War on Drugs and Gary Clark Jr. to perform the entire 1992 Sugar record Copper Blue. Though older in years, Mould led his trio through a near note-perfect rendition of such perennial favorites as “A Good Idea” and “Hoover Dam”. Mould looked positively jovial, attacking his guitar with trademark fervor and belting out the raucous melodies that have endeared fans to him for years.

Mould’s set was followed by the only SXSW performance by the Roots, one of the most anticipated sets of the conference (as evidenced by a near three-block long line). The Roots took on songs off their newest release Undun as well as crowd pleasers including a searing version of “Here I Come” off of Game Theory. The Roots may very well be one of the tightest bands around, as evidenced by these past years of honing their chops each night on Jimmy Fallon. Musically ubiquitious and masterful performers, they seamlessly transitioned from their unique fusion of soul-rock and hip hop to “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns and Roses and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. In the audience was the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff who accepted an invitation to come up on stage to do a joint drum solo with ?uestlove.

Later in the evening, Norah Jones took the stage at La Zone Rosa to debut her new band and new album to a capacity crowd. Jones informed the audience that they were only going to be performing tracks from the new record and the audience was clearly delighted by the knowledge of what they were about to hear. A departure from earlier material, Jones’ new songs show evidence of her work with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi on last year’s Rome. Alternating between a Wurlitzer electric piano and upright piano, Jones led the band through a mix of ethereal and moody western-tinged tracks and melancholic balladry.

One of the highlights of the evening was the final set by Subpop’s own Blitzen Trapper, who turned in a standout performance at Stubb’s. Pulling heavily from their newest album, American Goldwing, Eric Earley and co. opened with “Might Find It Cheap” and knocked through blistering renditions of “Your Crying Eyes” and “Street Fighting Sun”. Mid-set found them pulling back to quieter acoustic moments playing a gorgeous “Furr” and a hushed version of “Love the Way You Walk Away”. Towards the end of the set they welcomed Peter Buck and Mills of REM, as well as Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, to cover Big Star’s “Feel”. To close the night they unleashed Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” and brought the crowd to a frenzy.