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SXSW Dispatch: M. Ward, Tommy Stinson and more pay tribute to Big Star’s “Third”

Last night at Austin’s Paramount Theater, an all-star cast of indie / alt-rock luminaries – from M. Ward, to The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, to Wilco’s Pat Sansone and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck – gathered to pay tribute to Big Star‘s Third, arguably the best unfinished record in rock. This was the second time a Big Star tribute has taken place at South by Southwest in recent years; the legendary power-pop / art rock band was set to reunite for the 2010 festival, but band leader Alex Chilton died suddenly just days before, prompting a troupe of his fans in the music community to convene and pay their respects in song. While that performance was spontaneous and emotional – captured in “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” a documentary that screened before the performance – this one was celebratory, punctuated by a dazzling orchestra and the elegant surroundings (and acoustics) of the Paramount. The performance of the album was followed by a dip into the Big Star back catalog, including songs from the solo career of Chilton (“Bangkok”) and founding singer-guitarist Chirs Bell (“I Am The Cosmos,” “You and Your Sister”). Check out a slideshow of the tribute above, and a video of “I Am The Cosmos” below.