March 26, 2006

SXSW Report #15: The Joggers @ the Longbranch Inn

After the Beautiful Newborn Children's set, I left Emo’s and drove to the Long Branch Inn, one of three venues where Vice Magazine held the first of its two mammoth “Vice Kills Texas” day shows. Mere minutes after I walked into the inn, Portland quartet the Joggers began their set. Their most recent album, With a Cape and a Cane, was 2005’s best album to play air guitar to. I was dazzled by how their six-strings wandered recklessly up and down scales, eked out chiming chords, bended notes long enough to induce nausea and harmonized with each other at the most unpredictable moments. The band members also engage in three-part vocal harmony while wrecking shop on their instruments, a feat of multitasking that should be impossible considering the business of their playing.

They are no less dazzling live than on record, so when Ben Whitesides and Dan Wilson played the opening riff to “Since You’re Already Up,” I was already expecting to get my face rocked off. What I didn’t expect, though, was for them to follow that song with a note-perfect YES MEDLEY. As soon as I recognized “Long Distance Runaround,” I called my best friend --- the biggest Yes fan I know --- to let her hear it through my cell phone. When they segued into “Fish (Schindleria Praematurus),” I knew that I was witnessing the first truly mind-blowing moment of my SXSW 2006 experience.

The two or three Julian-Casablancas-fronting-Polvo originals they played afterward rocked hard, but couldn’t help but pale in comparison to the Yes medley. The Joggers definitely know how to use the element of surprise to their advantage.

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