Lily Allen, The Stooges, and more rocked out at the Austin event

By Michael Endelman
Updated March 23, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

South by Southwest, the ever-expanding 20-year-old music festival, convened again in beer-soaked, BBQ-scented Austin on March 14. For four days, the once-intimate gathering proved its industry mettle by drawing both fresh blood and living legends alike — not to mention big sponsors such as Microsoft and Toyota. Below, a recap of the rockin’ events.

British Bird Migration
Gigs featuring U.K. acts like the outspoken Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, and the Pipettes were the talk of the fest. On stage, a Bud-swilling Allen declared that she’s ”so sick of this song” before launching into her single ”Smile,” while Winehouse and the polka-dotted Pipettes saved their small talk for the boys they’ve left behind with tunes like ”Me & Mr. Jones” and ”Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me.”

The Busy Bee Award Goes to…
The Who’s Pete Townshend. He kicked off SXSW with a keynote speech about the Net, then bluntly assessed his band’s past tours: ”I got back with the Who [in 1989] to help [late bassist] John Entwistle with money problems…. I think he spent most of it on cocaine.” The next night, the axman jammed with glam-popster Mika and folkie Martha Wainwright for his ”In the Attic” webcast. Later, he popped up during a set by Scot rockers the Fratellis for a charging version of the Who’s ”The Seeker.”

The War on…Music
Mistaken identity derailed a show with Mexican duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela. Turns out Rodrigo Sanchez, one half of the metal-meets-flamenco pair, says he was denied entry to America because he shares the same name with a man on a terrorist watch list. ”I feel frustrated,” he said in a statement. ”This is a policy that…[has] to be resolved by Americans themselves.”

Reunited and It Feels So Good
Lucky soul fans caught Booker T. and the MGs and Isaac Hayes in a show celebrating the golden anniversary of the genre-defining label Stax Records. The Memphis all-stars sounded punchy on ’60s classics like ”Knock on Wood,” though they looked a bit paunchier. Can’t say the same for Iggy Pop, 59, whose Olympian physique and spastic dancing style remain intact. Commanding an audience that included actress Kirsten Dunst, Iggy led a cathartic closing-night set with his old band the Stooges — his body seemingly impervious to years of rock & roll debauchery. (Additional reporting by Whitney Pastorek and Leah Greenblatt)