NPR logo Possessed By The Decemberists Inside The Fog Of Sudafed

Possessed By The Decemberists Inside The Fog Of Sudafed

Full SXSW Coverage for Live Concerts and Exclusive Performances

Day three of SXSW and I'm wearing bright yellow in order to wake myself up every time I begin to nod off from lack of sleep. Despite having a cold (sorry, co-workers) or perhaps allergies (better for everyone, I think) I've managed to cram in a few shows and to help broadcast — from inside the fog of Sudafed — a live performance last night. Which, by the way, you can listen to here.

Speaking of last night, I had never seen two of the three bands that we presented: Heartless Bastards and The Avett Brothers. The former was the loudest of the three bands on the bill, a feat for an opener and thus totally ballsy, which I love. When I first heard HB a few years ago, I couldn't distinguish them from a better-than-average bluesy bar band, but something magical has emerged from their core—or perhaps a haunting — and it's very effective. The Avett Brothers are folkies with teeth. And fierce folk beats freak folk any day.

The Decemberists, who I have seen a few times, premiered their new album, The Hazards of Love. Some words you are likely to read or hear about their new endeavor: Prog, risky, and epic. Here's my take on it, it's joyful; it's a band having fun with the methods of songwriting, with the notion of character and story, with genre, and with volume. The set began tentatively but ended anything but timid. My hopes are that as the tour progresses, the band will be possessed from the very first note.

Something else I did yesterday, and a first for me at SXSW, was to sit in a dark movie theatre for about 30-minutes and watch music videos. Seeing the videos on the big screen made not only the images but the songs themselves feel bigger; which is why I'm here, after all, to feel dwarfed by the sheer amount of sound.

Check out two of the better videos:

The Saturday Knights "Count it Off"

The Saturday Knights - "Count It Off" from Lincoln Leopard Films on Vimeo

Gnarls Barkley "Going On"