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SXSW ’08: Now Reed This! Lou’s Tribute Show

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance

The South By Southwest 2008 lineup features the usual crop of hipster indie bands, but many of them probably wouldn't be around today if it wasn't for this year's SXSW keynote speaker, Velvet Underground veteran Lou Reed. Because as Brian Eno once famously stated, while not many people bought the Velvets' debut album at the time of its release, everyone that did buy it seemed to form a band.

So what better way to celebrate Lou's legacy than with a tribute showcase featuring many of the Velvet Underground's esteemed successors? On Thursday, March 13, that's exactly what went down at Austin's Fader Fort, with two hours of live Lou music as interpreted by such indie darlings as Dr. Dog (whom Lou praised earlier during his keynote Q&A), Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters, Joseph Arthur, and My Morning Jacket.

Yo La Tengo (pictured above) seemed especially qualified to participate given that they actually portrayed the Velvet Underground in the 1996 movie I Shot Andy Warhol, and their tribute-show rendition of "She's My Best Friend" was unsurprisingly one the day's hands-down highlights.

The Dorian Gray of post-punk, 49-year-old Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore, was another big hit with the crowd, screeching and flailing throughout "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore"--with, ironically, a ferocity that few of SXSW's new crop of twentysomething bands could ever muster.

But the best was certainly saved for last, when Moby came out with a full rock band, performed "Femme Fatale" with guest lead vocalist Laura Dawn...and was then joined by the guest of honor himself.

Yes, out sauntered Lou Reed for an extended Moby duet/jam version of "Walk On The Wild Side," while the capacity crowd chanted in unison, "Loooooouuuuuuu! Loooooouuuuuuu!"

As the show came to an end, Lou stepped up the mic and unhumbly but undeniably accurately declared: "I love punk rock! AND I WAS THE FIRST."

And with that, the SXSW 2008 keynote speaker had the definitive last word.

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