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DID YOU READ

At SXSW, the bands played on.

At SXSW, the bands played on. (photo)

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The SXSW Music Festival opened with a jolt on Wednesday: Big Star frontman Alex Chilton had died of an apparent heart attack. From that point until the end of the fest, when Big Star’s closing showcase at the hallowed blues club Antone’s turned into an all-star tribute to Chilton, songs in sets near and far were dedicated to the man who brought us wistful, right-of-passage classics like “I’m in Love with a Girl” and “Thirteen.”

Yes, the bands played on. There were a handful of older acts getting back into game. Courtney Love’s Hole slithered onstage after a ten-year hiatus, new members intact, to polarize crowds and promote her forthcoming album “Nobody’s Daughter.” Roky Erickson, whose psych-rock band the 13th Floor Elevators was the stuff of Austin in the late ’60s, returned to the fold bolstered by the music of fellow locals Okkervil River, in support of their collaborative album “True Love Cast Out All Evil.” And then there was the Queen of Rock, Wanda Jackson, to whom Jack White is giving the Loretta Lynn treatment.

03232010_sxswmusic2.jpgBeyond that, indie bands Surfer Blood and Titus Andronicus scored lots of ink. Obscure, old-school punk band Death made good on critics’ praises. Sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, who with Natalie Maines are the Dixie Chicks, debuted their own band, Court Yard Hounds. Timber Timbre, the moniker for Taylor Kirk, upped the ante on singer-songwriter fare. Drive-By Truckers, Band of Horses and Broken Social Scene played an incredible triple bill. And Demolished Thoughts, a super-band comprised of Thurston Moore, J. Mascis and Andrew W.K., blitzed through a run of ’80s hardcore covers.

This year’s SXSW Music Festival had more than 13,000 registrants. Many left with a better sense of the word “pop-up.” There were pop-up shows, including a spontaneous lunchtime gig in a parking garage on Red River Street featuring Broken Bells, an experiment between the Shins’ James Mercer and Gnarls Barkley’s Danger Mouse that failed to live up to expectations. There were also pop-up shops. Jack White’s Third Man Records set up a storefront at the gourmet hotdog restaurant Frank to push vinyl and White Stripes paraphernalia. White’s wife Karen Elson, a musician in her own right, played there Saturday night, allowing at least the possibility of a White sighting.

Free day shows have become the norm for a new generation of festival-goer incapable of paying upwards of $500 for a badge to the 24-year-old festival. It’s at these day parties where the ratio of music, accommodations and booze can turn into magic, like at this year’s Nonesuch Records party at Hotel Saint Cecilia. (You may recall Nonesuch as the label that rescued Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”) Standing out on the bill was the Low Anthem, a sepia-toned four-piece out of Providence, whose debut album “Oh My God, Charlie Darwin” is an elegant affair. Their four-part harmonies pierced the breeze, on a tail of clarinet, bowed saw and pump organ. One new song, about going to the apothecary to pick up the cure, featured a maraca made out of pill bottles.

The Village Voice Media day party was another scene altogether, body upon body in pursuit of Facebook friends. But that ceased when London trio the XX, playing in support of their narcotic, vocal-volleying self-titled album, blanketed the crowd with a layer of black velvet cascaded over with electro beats. Bassist Oliver Sim knew all about the buzz behind his band. He told the audience “thank you” at the end of the song “VCR” before they even had a chance to clap.

03232010_sxswmusic3.jpgCarolina Chocolate Drops played one of two distinctly excellent day-show parties in South Austin on the final day of the fest. The three-piece, performing at Jovita’s, mined old-timey tradition with determined authenticity. They opened with “Chased Old Satan Through the Door,” blazing with violin, banjo and foot-stomping. They followed it with square dance and Charleston numbers, accented with jug-blowing and wild dancing. On “Cindy Gal,” from their debut album “Genuine Negro Jig,” Dom Flemons played cow rib bones, prefaced with instructions on how to play ’em: hold one tight and let the other one smack it.

And then, in the hours leading up to the Alex Chilton tribute, Quasi stabbed through the suddenly frigid temperatures with their fortysomething slacker rock on the back patio of Home Slice Pizza. The Portland band has been trucking on and off for nearly 20 years, predating Sleater-Kinney, the band drummer Janet Weiss is most remembered for playing in. Weiss provided thunderous rhythm for ex-husband Sam Coomes’ tales of grown-up woes, powerfully conveyed on songs like “Repulsion” and “Little White Horse” from the band’s killer new album “American Gong.” The late, great Chilton would have appreciated their candor.

[Photos by Kathy Hoinski]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…