(Photo by Jay Janner)

SXSW Music: Dave Grohl and his heroes stir up Austin

(Photo by Jay Janner)By James C. McKinley, Jr.
New York Times
Friday, March 15, 2013, 3:31 a.m.

AUSTIN, Tex. — Dave Grohl brought his super-group the Sound City Players to Austin’s South by Southwest Music Festival on Thursday for a final concert, thrilling several thousand people in a yard behind Stubbs BBQ.

Mr. Grohl’s boyish glee at having assembled the musicians on the bill was evident as the concert progressed. Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty and Rick Springfield all arrived onstage to play a few of their best-known songs, while Mr. Grohl beamed like a fanboy.

“You can only imagine that it’s my life’s greatest gift that I get to call up these people who I consider heroes and have them come on stage and jam with me,” said Mr. Grohl, who earlier in the day gave the keynote address for the festival.

Others on the bill included Lee Ving of Fear, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Chris Goss of Masters of Reality, the guitarist Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, the drummer Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine and the Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. They were backed up by the keyboardist Rami Jaffee and several members of Mr. Grohl’s band, Foo Fighters.

The group was formed to make Mr. Grohl’s recently released documentary about the Sound City recording studio in Los Angeles, a storied but decrepit building where Nirvana recorded their breakout album “Nevermind” in 1991. Various lineups of the Sound City Players have done shows in New York, London and Los Angeles to promote the film and its soundtrack since January.

Like the other shows, the Austin concert was largely a celebration of oldies, though there were songs from the film’s original soundtrack sprinkled into the set list. Mr. Grohl, playing master of ceremonies, called his rock ‘n’ roll heroes to the stage one after another, while Foo Fighters proved they could have been a classic rock cover band.

Ms. Nicks did an inspired rendition of “Dreams” early in the show. Mr. Springfield got the crowd singing along his hits, like “Jesse’s Girl” and “I’ve Done Everything for You.”

Mr. Ving played the aging punk troublemaker and iconoclast to the hilt as he powered through a string of Fear songs, including “I Love Living in the City” and “I Don’t Care About You.”

Corey Taylor and Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer, provided the vocals for Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” and “Surrender,” as Mr. Grohl played drums and Mr. Nielsen provided the riffs and took a couple solos.

Mr. Fogerty, the songwriter and lead singer for Creedence Clearwater Revival, closed the show with several of that band’s greatest hits, among them “Travelin’ Band,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary” and “Bad Moon Rising.” He and Mr. Grohl finished the two-and-half hour concert by trading verses on the protest song, “Fortunate Son.”

The documentary “Sound City” is a love-letter from Mr. Grohl to the analog studio and its custom-made Neve console, on which a number of great albums by acts like Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Young were recorded.

When the studio closed in 2011, Mr. Grohl bought the console and used it to record several original tracks with Ms. Nicks, Mr. Fogerty, Mr. Springfield, Mr. Ving, Mr. Taylor, Trent Reznor and Paul McCartney. The first half of the film tracks the history of the Sound City, while the second focuses on the sessions that produced the soundtrack. Mr. Grohl has said the film is meant to celebrate “the human element in music.”

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