The lure of free food won out over the inconvenience of rain and mud as TV’s Rachael Ray hosted her eighth annual Feedback food and music party at South By Southwest on Saturday (March 21) at Stubb’s Barbeque.
Despite intermittent rain throughout the six-hour, free and open to the public event – which has been a high-profile highlight of the annual SXSW schedule since its inception – lines stretched well beyond the entrance for much of the time. Though the crowds actually staying to watch the show were noticeably smaller due to weather and the less-than-optimal ground conditions at the venue. The gourmet sliders, hot dogs, tacos and other treats were readily consumed throughout the day, and the music bill, among the most eclectic of SXSW day parties, made Feedback an easy affair to stay at from start to finish.
Among those making the scene was Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt, who played the indoor stage at last year’s Feedback party with the group’s side project Foxboro Hot Tubs. This time Dirnt, accompanied by his wife, pronounced himself “on vacation,” but he did share with Billboard that he was “super excited and super nervous, too” about Green Day’s upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. He also said guitarist Jason White was doing well in his battle with tonsil cancer and that Green Day had recently regrouped for its first band practice in awhile. “Everyone’s healthy and we’re gearing up to kick ass again.”
An assortment of the 14 acts who played Feedback’s three stages did much the same, whether it was Cody Simpson previewing some new songs slated for Free, his upcoming independently released album, Banditos tearing up on the indoor stage or Delta Spirit enjoying some hometown love from the Austin crowd and shouting out to the Districts from Philadelphia as they were setting up for their set on the Blue Moon Stage across the field (the Districts subsequently shouted back). Annual Feedback performer Bob Schneider delivered a typically strong set, while the Cringe, fronted by Ray’s husband John Cusimano, covered Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak.”
Feedback finished with a breathless hop from heavy to hip-hop to hippie. Scott Weiland, looking a bit worn out from his several other performances during SXSW, led his band the Wildabouts through a 45-minute set drawn primarily from their upcoming Blaster album (due March 31) along with Stone Temple Pilots favorites “Crackerman” and “Vasoline.”
Weiland tossed to Raekwon, who had fans kicking up sprays of muddy water as they grooved to his set, while Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, which performed as a new act at Ray’s second Feedback party, offered up loose-limbed, communal renditions of “Forty Day Dream,” “Alabama Song,” “Man on Fire” and “Home.” Frontman Alex Ebert, spent much of the 45 minutes in the pit between the stage and the field turned the latter song into an impressive audience singalong to make up for the absence of former member Jade Castrinos. Ray also operated a Feedback house over three nights of SXSW which featured performances by Gill Landry, Letts, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds and others.