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SXSW Band of the Day: Autumn Defense

Peter Blackstock

Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 18, 2014

Artist: Autumn Defense

From: Chicago; official SXSW page

SXSW shows: Tuesday, March 11; Red 7 Patio (611 E. 7th St.), time TBA; Thursday, March 13, Continental Club (1315 S. Congress Ave.), 8 p.m.; Friday, March 14, Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room (512 Trinity St.), 8 p.m.; other appearances TBA.

About the artist

Typically described as a Wilco side-project, the Autumn Defense feels much more substantive than that. For one thing, Wilco bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone started the band before Sansone was recruited into the Wilco lineup. And after five albums – including last month’s aptly titled “Fifth” on Yep Roc Records – the Autumn Defense has a long-term, consistent history that defies the offhand nature of most side projects.

Essentially, it’s an outlet for Sansone and Stirratt to present their own songs, given that Jeff Tweedy’s writing is at the core of Wilco. The pair’s aesthetic is also different; they’re less experimental, and more reflective of classic 1960s folk-rock than of the modern indie realm. (Check out the video above, in which they casually riff on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends” before going into their own “This Thing That I’ve Found” from the new album.)

In the days between Wilco’s weekend bookings at ACL Fest last fall, Sansone and Stirratt took time out for a midweek show at Lamberts, performing as a duo. On at least one previous SXSW visit, in 2004 at a Sixth Street venue, they filled out the lineup with an impressive gathering of friends on horns, pedal steel and backing vocals, playing a set that was among the highlights of the festival. They’ll expand from the acoustic duo setup to a five-member configuration (with rhythm section and pedal steel) at SXSW.

Could share a bill with: The Kinks, Decemberists, Kathleen Edwards, Hem