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Lou Reed Keynotes, Rocks Out At SXSW
Lou Reed lashed out at new modes of audio technology, saying that "people have got to demand a higher standard" than current MP3s during his keynote session today (March 13) at the South By SouthwestLou Reed lashed out at new modes of audio technology, saying that "people have got to demand a higher standard" than current MP3s during his keynote session today (March 13) at the South By Southwest Music Festival + Conference in Austin, Texas.
Later in the day, he made a heck of a racket of his own by guesting at his own tribute concert at the invite-only Fader Fort.
Reed was interviewed by friend and acclaimed music producer Hal Wilner, who recently worked with the veteran rocker in producing the opulent "Berlin" concerts. Those are the subject of "Lou Reed's Berlin," a documentary by Academy Award-winning director Julian Schnabel that had its American premiere at SXSW.
In typically glib and dry-witted form throughout the wide-ranging 55-minute conversation, the bespectacled Reed bemoaned the current state of audio and other digital technologies, noting that "it's like the technology is taking us backwards. It's making it easier to make things worse.
"Here's our song reduced to a pindrop -- what, what, what?!" Reed explained. "It's like if no one knows any better or doesn't care, it's gonna stay on a really, really low level and people who like good sound are gonna be thought of as some kind of strange zoo animal. It's like saying it should've stayed 'the Chevy at the levy -- look down, don't look up.'"
Reed did express some hope that "you hear they've got a newer version (of MP3) that sounds better, and you suddenly hear the other instruments that are on the song. They've got to bring up the standard. You have the world open to you now; you can get almost any song in the world as an MP3, and I suppose if you like it you can go out and try to find a version you can actually listen to -- if you like good sound. If you don't like good sound, none of this matters for a second."
During the session Reed also noted that he liked young acts such as Melt Banana ("in small doses"), Holy F*ck ("Or is it Holy Sh*t?'), Dr. Dog and Jane As Policewoman. He said that he plans to stage the "Berlin" shows in Europe this summer but not in the U.S. The "Berlin" concert concept "wasn't an audition to do more of these things" with any of his other albums, though he said "Magic + Loss" and "Street Hassle" would be good candidates if he did want to try it again.
The Fader-hosted tribute featured a host of heavy-hitters, including Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore bashing out the Velvet Underground obscurity "I'm Not a Young Man Anymore" and My Morning Jacket rocking up the band's "Head Held High."
Reed materialized only for the finale, a collaboration with Moby on "Walk on the Wild Side" which shifted from drumless drone to full-on rock by its conclusion. "I love punk rock," Reed told the screaming audience. "And I was the first one."