The New Pornographers / Preston School Of Industry: Austin, Texas South By Southwest

Sometime Kink Ray Davies joins The New Pornographers onstage at South by Southwest...

There are aspects of South By Southwest that don’t involve live music, but truthfully, the idea of picking up free schwag at the indoor trade show holds little sway against the almighty lure of cold beer and live music.

Consider: you have the option to saunter on over to Fat Tuesday’s and check out ex-Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg play one of his first shows ever with his new trio Preston School Of Industry, sipping a frozen beverage and soaking up the last afternoon rays of the Texas sun, or picking up a pamphlet from the North American Radio Programmers Association and hearing a lukewarm pitch for a service you don’t require. Not really a decision that takes long to make. Minus the quirk of Pavement, Preston School Of Industry students keep it loose as Kannberg and crew take rock back to its all important ABCs. After years in the off-kilter shadow of Stephen Malkmus, Kannberg is adept in the lead role, although tentative body language

suggests he hasn’t yet fully assumed the part.

The buzz about the White Stripes came humming along the Texas plain long before anyone showed up, but as the Detroit duo play the party for a well-known MP3 warehouse, it’s hard to see what about their sludgy rock is necessary for someone who owns records by fellow Motor City alumni like The Stooges or the MC5. The sheer quantity of sound generated by just drums and guitar provides some intrigue, but tone and volume alone do not music make.

After a few days of stumbling around town and seeing more bands in a few days than most people see in a year, you almost get immune to the amazing. You expect to look across the table and see you’re sharing a table with the

Mekons or can go see The Black Crowes in a club that normally couldn’t even seat their guest list.

Still, even the most jaded rock parasite can get excited at seeing The New Pornographers special guest step out at La Zona Rosa on Saturday night. Wearing shades indoors at night, none other than Ray Davies strolls out and sings with the collective on The Kinks’ ‘Starstruck’, and judging by the

ear-to-ear grin on singer Neko Case’s face the lucky few in attendance aren’t the only ones who find the choice of song appropriate.

Colin Devenish