They say fish is brain food, but apparently we missed dinner, because we blew it last week when we said that the fish of the Ph variety were returning to the stage after a long hiatus. In fact, it's only head Phisherman Trey Anastasio, who'll be touring nationally with his own personal band (including a Paramount Theatre stop on May 21, which, according to Pollstar, seems to be the kickoff date), though the original members—or at least their animated alter egos—are still appearing this week on The Simpsons. Next time, when we read a confusing Canadian press release, we will remember that our nefarious neighbors to the North are never to be trusted for linguistic clarity, and we will double-check our facts with a good old red-blooded American site. . . . And now, happily, we turn to strict opinion, for which we cannot be reamed by eagle-eyed fact-checking readers. Here, direct from the Lone Star State is Laura Learmonth's belated report on SXSW: "Blame the screwed-up departures and arrivals gates, the extra security, sloppy handwriting, or guilty stolen days in the warm sun, but I just didn't make it back from the festival in time to get you this report in last week's paper. In a word—albeit a slightly cheesy one—this year's trip was inspirational. Bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Walkmen, the Warlocks, the Boggs, the Von Bondies, the Shins, and the Pattern were amazing, playing the big shows to the biggest crowds. But inside small record stores outside the main SXSW stomping grounds, at random house parties, and in weird clubs usually reserved for girls carrying trays of neon-green shots, there were these amazing in-store performances and beautiful, quiet sets by smaller bands. The Rattlesnakes, the Cuts, Black Cat Music, Those Peabodys, the Gospel Swingers, and Vietnam: These are the kinds of bands that festivals like SXSW
should be about, except that industry insiders have a habit of seeing the bands they feel like they're "supposed" to see. They miss out on the truly undiscovered. Often label-less, always nearly out of gas money, and usually skinny; fed almost only on free beer from parties and shows, these are the bands who you'll really want to know about when they come to your town. But don't worry, you will." . . . In other amusing SXSW shenanigans, at the Hard Rock Cafe Icarus Line guitarist Aaron North smashed through a case containing a hallowed Stevie Ray Vaughn guitar and grabbed it—in what was either an attempt to live up to a punk-as-fuck image while enjoying the fruits of performing at a cushy corporate venue or maybe just an undercover test of Austin law enforcement's reflexes. He and singer Joe Cardamone temporarily escaped the clutches of pursuing security, but the Cafe may still decide to press charges. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs weren't so lucky; the troublemaking N.Y.C. threesome were ejected from their own gig after attempting to steal Clinic's trademark face masks. . . . Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't include the highlights of Courtney Love's SXSW speech, which include tales of an almost-chick fight with Christina Aguilera, with whom Love is currently sharing producer Linda Perry—"When Linda has been with Christina, we need to take a steam bath before she comes in with us"—and the assertion that Swedish hot poop the Hives are better than her late husband's band, couched in yet another barely veiled insult of his former bandmates—"This is better than Nirvana because there isn't just one brilliant boy"—and generally rambled so off topic (but entertainingly, according to many attendees) that she repeatedly had to be brought back around by the event's emcee. . . . Due to sick bass player Brent, Beachwood Sparks won't make their March 28 appearance at
Graceland; instead, former supporting players the Sadies will headline. . . . The Peter Buck saga continues: Taking a break from policy meetings with Dubya, Bono appeared in court on March 25 to act as a character reference for his R.E.M. friend. The man formerly known as Paul David Hewson said on the stand that in the 17 years they had known each other, he had never even seen Buck get drunk or ingest a single illegal drug—no word on his yogurt-smearing habits—and claimed that the American is "famously known for being a peaceable person." He continued, "I just wanted to stand up and be counted. This is ridiculous. I don't know what must have happened to him. It is certainly a bizarre event and unusual." And added again, "He is a very quiet man. It is hard to get him to go on tour because he loves his kids so much," before stepping down from the witness stand. What a pal. . . . Reports are flying that the musical marriage between Chris Cornell and the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine is over before it had even begun. Recruited to replace departed singer Zach de la Rocha, Cornell and the new Rage were scheduled to debut publicly on this year's Ozzfest bill, but word of the split hit only a day after that booking was announced. At this point, no official statements have been made by the band itself, but inside sources are warning fans that it doesn't look good. . . . And finally, even if we're not particularly big fans, congratulations to Randy Newman for finally winning a Best Song Oscar Sunday night and breaking the dreaded Susan Lucci-esque curse of 15 nominations and no wins. Number 16 was the charm. Even Sir Paul couldn't stop him.
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