Many a time it’s possible to strike out on the fringe of things unofficially SXSW – shitty PA here, broken down van on the way to there, or worse yet, a band so newb they can’t remember the lyrics to the two songs they’ve written. Rolling up to a pocket just south of downtown at Austin’s self-perscribed “oldest LGBT nightclub” to a sole guitarist engulfed in the corner of a bar with half a dozen people standing around him like a moderately entertaining street preacher, hands in their pockets, things did not look good for a man named Jason Anderson from New Hampshire.
Anderson though, was quick to reveal himself an indie thoroughbred, taking skills honed from fronting Portland, OR’s Wolf Colonel in the early 2000s, where his witty Guided By Voices captain-isms – “put me on the bus where I belong” – were soaked in a band trying their best to be a rawwk band. Here, with his half-dozen hearts, he was the Jesus Christ Super Star Folkie, playing to the rafters with a personal choir, kissing dudes on the cheek for singing along and making sure everyone knew and could scream the contract of love:
He was Doug Martsch in a bedroom writing about his first girlfriend, John Darniell on a four-track discovering his sense of humor, Anderson lacing little narrative asides mid-song from movie quips to self-deprecating shots like that time he promised himself he’d see a girl at the end of June, wondering if he’d ever sleep at her apartment, forever failing to do so.
By the time Anderson took his last moments to dedicate a song to the insane tragedy last night downtown – dozens injured and two killed by a drunk driver – his crowd had doubled to rowdy campfire size, already sure about how they were going to belt out the best cathartic movements of the hook, Anderson already one eye copping a wink: