sxsw mojo nixon

Mojo Nixon’s Legendary SXSW Party Rocks On in Austin Despite His Absence

Mojo Nixon has passed away, yet his spirit was vibrantly alive at Austin’s Continental Club, which hosted a final tribute to his “Mojo’s Mayhem” event during South by Southwest. This raucous memorial came six weeks after his sudden departure from this world.

The stage was nearly bursting during the “You Can’t Kill Me” finale, marking what was said to be the last Mayhem. A constellation of music stars including Jello Biafra, Dan Baird, John Doe, Jon Dee Graham, members of the Beat Farmers, Exene Cervenka, Jon Langford, Bill Davis from Dash Rip Rock, and Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, alongside Nixon’s fiery backup band, the Toad Liquors, came together for a memorable performance.

Describing Mojo Nixon, the iconoclastic punk-blues musician and SiriusXM radio host, is a challenge. His unique presence and the impact of his sudden death from a cardiac event on February 7, during the Outlaw Country cruise, are hard to encapsulate.

Nixon had planned his own memorial before his death. He intended the 2024 Mojo’s Mayhem, a fixture of SXSW and his own creation, to be the last. He personally curated a lineup of bands, all close friends, for what was meant to be a final, eight-hour musical celebration. It turned into a vibrant tribute to his life, bringing together diverse musicians and fans in a reflection of a time when genres like cowpunk and alternative ruled the airwaves.

The event was a convergence of musical tribes, featuring performances from the Waco Brothers, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, and James McMurtry, among others. The Knitters, featuring members of X and the Blasters, made a rare appearance, all playing with a fervor that honored their late friend’s passion for life.

The festivities kicked off early, with fans lining up in the cold rain, entertained by a polka band and greeted by a giant effigy of Nixon. The club reached its capacity well before the music started, with a queue that lasted all day.

Nixon’s legacy was celebrated through a blend of irreverent lyrics, bold statements, and a mix of drinking and drugs, creating an atmosphere of defiance and rock ‘n’ roll. He was known for his unapologetic critiques of society, delivered with a mix of humor and intensity.

The Beat Farmers’ performance of “Riverside” was a highlight, evoking memories of the vibrant music scene Nixon was part of. Rosie Flores, stepping in for “Country Dick” Montana, captured the spirit of the evening with her rendition of “Happy Boy.”

The event was filled with moments of respect and irreverence. Steve Earle and Dan Baird’s performances stood out, alongside the comedic and poignant set by Folk Uke. The day was a mix of musical genres, from rock to country, all played with the energy and commitment that defined Nixon’s career.

The Toad Liquors’ final performance was a fitting tribute, avoiding Nixon’s most famous songs for a set that captured the essence of his music. Guest appearances by Jello Biafra and Jeremy Tepper added to the intensity, showcasing the depth of Nixon’s influence.

The night culminated with “Tie My Pecker to My Leg,” a song that perfectly encapsulated the humor and spirit of Nixon’s work. The performance was a joyful, communal celebration of Nixon’s life and legacy.

Though Mojo Nixon was no longer physically present, his spirit permeated the event, drawing fans of all ages to celebrate his life and music. It was a testament to his impact, a day filled with laughter, music, and memories, exactly as he would have wanted his final Mayhem to be.