Here are my SXSW picks:
1. Shearwater playing at the Central Presbyterian Church. With a Steinway concert grand, the audience in pews, and acoustics to die for ("the best sound I've heard at a rock show in years," said an industry veteran to my right). Some audience members were crying. This was one for the ages.
2. In total contrast, Jay Reatard at the Victory Grill. Jay had been up for 3 days straight and was angry. The oversized bassist in the faded Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt was angry too. They were hurling nearly full cans of bud into the audience, directly at moshers' faces. The sound was perfect. The experience was genuine. Actual punk rock like I have rarely seen since the mid-'80s.
The other shows are in no particular order:
The Ponys – Emo's, afternoon show
(TNV at Sound On Sound, Saturday afternoon, phone cam pic by Gerard)
Sorry for the Matador-centric picks… inevitable when your bands are playing 17 gigs in 4 days, you spend a lot of time seeing them! But of course it helps that they're all great, too.