I love technology. At about 5:30 last night I got a text message: “If u want to see slash at 6:30 let me know.” After replying that yes, of course, I would like to see one of my all-time heroes and best guitarists of all time in a tiny club setting (duh!) I waited in vain for an hour until the magical next text message arrived: “301 W. 6th St.- Hi Lo – U on List. Come now.” And so the craziness that is South by Southwest continued. Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke played at the Activision-sponsored party to promote the video game that is making shredders everywhere happy, “Guitar Hero II,” and Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash performed three songs with the band to close out the night.

Slash with Blackberry Smoke at SXSW
Special thanks to LAist.com editor Tony Pierce for the photo. Video of the performance as also available at LAist.
Click “Read More” for the rest of the show review…

One gets the sense that Hi Lo is not the kind of place that often has live music. It’s decidedly more upscale than most Austin music venues, with big circular booths and couches, a nice wooden bar, and mirrors lining the room; in short, this room was designed for the Paris Hilton set, not the Motorhead crowd. This was the scene in which Georgia-based southern rockers Blackberry Smoke took to the tiny stage in the corner at about 7:30pm last night; and by “stage” what I mean is “slightly raised section of floor.”

Blackberry Smoke is true, dirty, old-fashioned southern rock. I would liken them most to the Allman Brothers Band, with their heavily-distorted guitars, driving riifs, and three-part harmonies carrying their mostly upbeat songs; twinges of Lynyrd Skynyrd were also apparent. These are true, Southern, long-haired, goateed rockers. The crowd was polite for the most part, though most revelers in attendance seemed only interested in the prospect of ex-Gunner Slash taking the stage. I on the other hand was perfectly content, nay thrilled, to be watching Blackberry Smoke. This band was GOOD.

About halfway through the set the singer announced they would be bringing up a special guest later, as if this was a surprise to anyone in attendance; Slash and his entourage had been quietly sitting in a booth since before the band started playing. When the band announced Slash he made his way through the audience, top hat in hand, and was promptly handed a guitar and a lit cigarette.

Describing how amazing it was to see Slash play from 10 feet away from the stage would be totally pointless. It was really THAT great, and my words could not do it justice. It was like a private performance for 100 (at most) of Slash’s closest friends; no pushing or shoving to get closer to the stage, just respect and admiration. The band roared through covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman,” Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” before Slash exited the stage to riotous applause. Blackberry Smoke closed out with another rocker before calling it a night, but by this point most of the audience (present company excluded) had stopped paying attention.

This is what it’s all about — great band, great people, awesome fucking show. And that was only a small section of my night.


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