Indie Rock All Stars Recreate Big Star’s Third Live in New York

Michael Stipe, Matthew Sweet, and Chris Stamey Take the Stage in Tribute to Alex Chilton

A group of more than 30 musicians, organized by former dB Chris Stamey and including Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills from R.E.M., Matthew Sweet, and Tift Merritt got together on Saturday, March 26 in New York to play Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers in a live performance that recreated the album’s complex orchestration. Alex Chilton, the mercurial genius behind one of rock’s most legendary groups and the principal author of Third, passed away just over a year ago, March 17, 2010, at age 60. Long a favorite of rock critics and musicians, Chilton even inspired an anthem in his honor by ‘80s indie rockers the Replacements, and was remembered vividly by the many friends and fans who turned out for Saturday night’s show. The audience, which was as full of rock critics as the famous Memphis show in the 1970s, when Big Star played for a rock critics’ conference, brought out the best in the leading lights of indie rock onstage. In addition to covering the album in its entirety (although not in its original order), the group gave a series of amazing encores, from the solo work of Big Star associate Chris Bell to Chilton’s teen blue-eyed soul hit with the Box Tops, “The Letter” (which was sung this time around by Stipe) to an entrancing version of what is arguably Chilton’s finest song, “September Gurls,” sung by Mike Mills and Matthew Sweet. Below are some links to video from the encores. Here’s hoping that Stamey and company will find a way to get this going on the West Coast sometime soon. (Hint: It would make for an amazing night at the Lobero.)

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