A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
British Sea Power, Triple Rock Social Club. The encore devolved into a circus of memorable proportions -- band members soloing while riding on fans' shoulders, crepe-paper streamers flying everywhere and a crescendo of noise from the musicians, banging on everything in sight.
SXSW coverage on DirecTV. For those of us who have regular jobs and couldn't make the trek to Texas, DirecTV for the second consecutive year got us there in part, with two dozen Freeview performances from a variety of worthy acts.
The Cribs, Varsity Theater. The return of the Jarman brothers was highlighted by a spot-on cover of the Replacements' "Bastards of Young." Minneapolis '80s power punk met 21st-century U.K. garage rock.
JOHN CARLSON, INVER GROVE HEIGHTS
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"Rock the Cradle," MTV. This new knockoff of "American Idol" (with Ryan Seacrest-like host Ryan Devlin) pits children of music stars (Joe Walsh, MC Hammer, Olivia Newton-John) against one another for a recording deal. It takes more than genetics to make it in music. The key player is judge Larry Rudolph, Britney Spears' manager, who provides a reality check with spot-on constructive criticism.
Vampire Weekend, Triple Rock Social Club. These much-hyped newcomers are more musical than expected, and frontman Ezra Koenig has range, depth and emotion well beyond most indie-rock singers. The Paul Simon-meets-the Specials sound is fun and fresh on the indie scene.
"Inside Dylan's Brain," Vanity Fair. Duff McDonald dissects and analyzes Bob Dylan's XM radio show, pointing out poets he has referenced, deep thoughts he has shared and bad jokes he has told. Must reading for Dylanophiles.
JON BREAM, STAR TRIBUNE