Best Of SXSW : Josh T. Pearson

Back in January when we interviewed Josh T. Pearson, it had yet to be determined whether the expat troubadour would be performing at this year’s SXSW. After several weeks of will he/won’t he speculation, Pearson elected to take the stage in the very city where his reputation was forged a decade earlier as a member of Armageddon-sized rock trio, Lift To Experience, and conjured up a performance that few lucky music fans will forget any time soon.

Fate and poor planning on my part dictated that I would see Pearson in the most unlikely of settings: a high noon performance in a small parking lot behind an Urban Outfitters on UT’s deserted campus. The sun shone directly overhead, but the first sounds of Pearson’s plaintive guitar announced this wasn’t to be a summer singalong. Gaunt and obviously tired from a trying week, the singer warily made his way through four songs off Last Of The Country Gentlemen and a cover of Rivers Of Babylon in front of an enrapt audience.

No longer afforded the luxury of LTE’s bombast, Pearson turned within himself. Last Of The Country Gentlemen is nothing short of amazing, but pulling off these songs in a live setting is hardly a walk in the park. Fortunately, even in his enervated state, Pearson rose to the occasion, his booming acoustic punctuating the often violent imagery of his songs, his world-weary voice and mournful delivery weighing down each sullen syllable. Riveting doesn’t begin to describe it, and it was nearly impossible to take your eyes off this forlorn Virgil. At times it felt as though the audience itself was trying to will him through the next verse, the next chorus, only to exhale in relief when the song reached its oft ambiguous resolution.

Happily, the absurdity of performing behind a store specializing in distressed clothing and ironic gifts was not lost on Pearson, who quipped about upcoming performances at The Gap and American Apparel. He may even have dropped a wry smile once or twice. But the whole thing was over and done in less than 30 minutes; Pearson quietly walking off stage, leaving us only to wonder if we would see him again.

Random great thing about SXSW 2011: Though not limited to the run of SXSW, you gotta, just gotta, love Allens Boots. I don’t care if home for you is Pakistan, Poughkeepsie or the prairie, five minutes in Allens and you’ll be convinced that can must wear boots, perhaps something along the lines of Old Gringo Eagle Boots in Galaxia Black.

  • Subdades

    March 24, 2011 [ 1:37 pm ]

    EPIC!

    I saw him open for My Bloody Valentine a couple of years ago here in Dallas. He was accompanied by a bassist and drummer, making sounds not to dissimilar to Lift To Experience, which I was more than happy to take in. A band called The Autumns got me into LTE, and I was sad when they decided to play together no more. I was glad to have seen them live in Austin back in the early ’00’s…Explosions In The Sky opened. That too was EPIC! Many memories tied here. Thanks for posting!

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