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SXSW Day 4: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Laneway Festival

For Journal Register Newspapers

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AUSTIN, Texas – You wouldn’t have been out of place to wonder what decade it was on Friday, May 15, at the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference.

The day’s biggest shows – Green Day, Depeche Mode, Fall Out Boy – smacked of rock ‘n’ roll yesteryear, though each either has or is gearing up to release some new music – thus giving them a legitimate berth at the festival. As Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz – whose group was making its first visit to SXSW in nearly a decade -- told the crowd at a packed Vice Bar, “To me, South By Southwest still is about new bands and new music. We came back as a band because we wanted to play new music.”

Green Day, of course, had plenty of new music to play for its fans on Friday night in ACL Live at Moody Theatre. The show, in such high demand that a lottery was held to distribute tickets, actually marked the multi-platinum punk group’s first SXSW visit, despite long-held rumors that it scored a major label deal there back in the 90s. Green Day’s tour to promote its three 2012 releases – “Uno!,” “Dos!” and “Tre!” – was delayed when frontman Billie Joe Armstrong entered rehab last fall, so the group came to Austin ready to prove it was back on track – and it certainly did that.

Playing 24 songs over the course of a rowdy two hours and 10 minutes, Green Day’s “South By Southwest punk rock extravaganza,” as Armstrong dubbed it, was indeed a circus of blazing music and the kind of showmanship shenanigans he and the band do so well. After debuting a pair of documentaries – “Broadway Idiot” and “Cuatro” – earlier in the day, Green Day strode onstage to the theme from “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” and Armstrong immediately ordered everyone to “get off your (expletive) (expletives). This ain’t no…café!” The group kept them up throughout the show, mixing eight songs from the new trilogy with proven favorites such as “Longview,” “Basket Case,” “Welcome to Paradise,” “Brain Stew,” “American Idiot” and the “Jesus of Suburbia Suite,” as well as the occasional rarity such as “Christie Road.”

There was, as usual, seemingly nothing Armstrong and company wouldn’t do to get a rise out of the crowd – even using devices to fire water, toilet paper and T-shirts into the crowd. Most of the songs were extended with call-and-response chants, while “Disappearing Boy” became a medley that included bits of Ozzy Osbourne’s “I Don’t Know,” Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” Later, the jubilant “King For a Day,” with all of the Green Day members sporting some sort of goofy accessory, incoporated and unlikely mix of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout!,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

As Armstrong noted early in the show, “This is not a party. This is not a birthday. This is a celebration.”

• Fall Out Boy had no problem getting its fans into a celebratory mood with its wee-hours set, either. Coming back from a four-year hiatus, the quartet had the room singing along to every syllable – no exaggeration there – of “Thriller,” “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” Dance, Dance,” “What a Catch, Donnie,” its cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” as well as fluenced “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘em Up), “ the dance club influenced first single from the upcoming “Save Rock and Roll” album, due out April 15.

* A decidedly different kind of show took place Friday afternoon, away from the downtown maelstrom of SXSW. Patty Griffin chose a rustic former church, now a private home called the Castle, to preview her new album, “American Kid,” for an invitation-only crowd that included label mates such as Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale and the Mastersons (Robert Plant, who lives with her part-time in Austin, was nowhere to be seen). Griffin played solo acoustic versions of six of the album’s songs, explaining that many were inspired by her travels between Austin and Nashville during the past year. Griffin, who turned 49 the next day, also noted it was her first SXSW event since 2005. “I thought I was getting too old for it,” she cracked.

* Organizers of the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival huddled with executives from the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday for a day party at Red 7 to officially announce the festival’s arrival in the U.S. on Sept. 14 at the Meadow Brook Music Festival. The lineup won’t be announced until May, but the two-stage bill at the party – which included performances by Chvrches, Parquet Courts, Palma Violets and Alpine – displayed the diverse, independent spirit the festival, which played seven shows earlier this year in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, represents. Co-founder Jerome Borazio noted that he and partner Danny Rogers hope to expand further into North America but said that “getting it right in Detroit is the most important thing right now.” He added that he and Rogers have even discussed buying a house in the metro area that could accommodate Australian bands hesitant to tour the U.S. because of costs. “We feel like Detroit will become our home, too,” Borazio said.

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