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SXSW review: The Toadies are rock gods; deal with it America

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Ramon Ramirez

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 15, 2014

Things began with emphatic audience declarations, “Long live the Toadies.”

Dallas’ on-again, off-again rockers the Toadies celebrated “20 years of Stubb’s” with a front-to-back interpretation of their 1994 masterpiece, “Rubberneck,” Saturday night.

That isn’t a gently used term. Whether or not the album’s pristine singles made the same impact as those from ’90s genre colleagues like Pearl Jam means little. The band is the most beloved rock quartet in the last 20 years, stateside, and “Rubberneck” leads with a rabid front court of hits and heartstring-gouging melodies.

“Thank you so much for keeping up with us,” a sincere Vaden Lewis said at the half-way point.

Saturday marked a maiden voyage for this comprehensive rendition. “Rubberneck” is a more-or-less air tight project, with distinct peaks and valleys. Local radio bedbugs “Possum Kingdom,” “Tyler,” “I Come From the Water” and “Away” rang most true.

It was a straightforward, Gap-sponsored gig. The Toadies were slapped onto the bottom of a bill with boring bands like the 1975. I wasn’t planning on writing it up, especially given the reliable nature of area gigs from these bros. But just enough Texans were in the building to make the thing a heavy singalong. The kind that makes curious badge holders take note and tab pages.

I was in Waterloo Park, fall 2001, for what was billed as the last-ever Austin Toadies concert. It was a somber, post-9/11 occasion. We buried wallet chains guitar rock.

It’s been back in a big way this conference. Not sure if that’s because the Toadies wrote it like black belts, or if we’re bored with precocious sibling duos and their Tumblrs.

Either way, “Possum Kingdom” blistered like when you have too many and fall asleep on a beach chair.