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Late-Night Dispatches From SXSW

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Every night during South by Southwest, Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Carrie Brownstein and Stephen Thompson gathered in the wee hours to recap their days and get pumped about bands they'd planned to see next. In these dispatches from Austin, you can hear all the excitement and joy of four intrepid music lovers set loose in the annual bacchanal of songs, discovery and breakfast tacos.

For more from All Songs Considered, subscribe to the All Songs podcast and sign up for the newsletter. Download the concerts NPR Music put on at SXSW, including The Decemberists, Blind Pilot, K'Naan and The Dirty Projectors, by subscribing to the Live in Concert from All Songs Considered podcast.


Around 2 a.m., after the NPR Music showcase with The Decemberists, The Avett Brothers and The Heartless Bastards at Stubbs had wrapped up, everyone stood around outside Stubbs to enthuse over the show they'd just seen (Carrie: "I was standing next to somebody who said, 'I didn't realize the Decemberists sounded like Kansas!' ") and the bands they'd managed to catch that afternoon. Carrie's pet favorites before arriving in Austin, Phenomenal Handclap Band and Garotas Suecas, won over the rest of the crew, Tiger City wowed Bob and The Mae Shi ("They sound sort of like four bands fighting!") shook Stephen out of his "mopey and beardy" rut.

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Left click here to listen to Wednesday's dispatch, or right click and hit "save link as" to download it.


Standing in the streets of Austin, the crew recaps the NPR Music party from earlier that day. K'Naan blasted past everyone's expectations. "It's sort of like when you have a party, and it's a pretty good party, but when the right person shows up it finally takes off," Robin says. In the middle of Texas, the rapper had the audience singing along in Somali. Bob thinks K'Naan has the message, and the sweetness, to have the kind of power in music that Bob Marley did. After the NPR Music party was over, the crew hit the streets again, becoming confused by The Girls (a bunch of dudes with mostly dudes in the crowd) and Women (also a bunch of dudes with mostly dudes in the crowd), running around among groups as varied as Red Red Meat, The Tallest Man on Earth and Crystal Stilts, as well as stopping to hug Dananananaykroyd.

Left click here to listen to Thursday's dispatch, or right click and hit "save link as" to download it.


Again around 2 a.m., another group gathered on the steps of the Central Presbyterian Church. The crew's starting to feel it at this point, basking in the afterglow of a Jason Lytle show, and stomping away from new bands that "noodle around" while getting set up at 1:20 a.m. in favor of old favorites like Shearwater and The Thermals. Though fatigue has set in, Bob pushed through 900,000 hipsters to be underwhelmed by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Robin enjoyed the crazy looping technique of Theresa Andersson and Stephen did not mind hearing, and watching, the "preening jackassery" of Hot Leg.

Left click here to listen to Friday's dispatch, or right click and hit "save link as" to download it.


Only Stephen and Bob are left in town, and by now they're really feeling the burn. And the exhilaration. They meet up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday to record a conversation in which their exhaustion brings them perilously close to slurring their words. The 10-piece band Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros has floored them both; Stephen admits to having shed a tear, though this is admittedly less of a feat than it might be for, say, Carrie. The band has overshadowed everything that happened earlier in the day, including Bob shooting video of a private performance by PJ Harvey and Stephen seeing the "surprise show" put on by Kanye West. And finally, after four days of "wallowing in our favorite thing," even the stalwarts go home.

Left click here to listen to Saturday's dispatch, or right click and hit "save link as" to download it.