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Punk Pioneers Circle Jerks and the Dicks Take Over SXSW

March 19, 2009 4:16 PM ET

Aging punk fans with a little gray in their mohawks had a short, fast embarrassment of riches when two of punk rock's early legends played on opposite sides of Austin on Wednesday night at SXSW. (Check out images from Austin's hottest shows in our SXSW gallery.)

First, Austin punk-rock forebears the Dicks hit the stage at 27th Annual Austin Music Awards, accepting a lifetime achievement award for their unique, soulful brand of aggression. The Dicks helped invent Texas punk in 1980, leaving an impression on the Butthole Surfers, Jesus Lizard and Mudhoney (the latter would cover their "Hate The Police"). David Yow of Jesus Lizard presented the band with the award in front of a packed Austin Music Hall. Yow said that 29 years ago he had been amazed and overwhelmed when Dicks bassist Buff Parrot smoked him out. Yow still considers them "the greatest punk rock band of all time."

When the Dicks hit the stage — a little chubbier and grayer than they were in the '80s — pot-bellied lead singer Gary Floyd offered these words of thanks: "For me, to thank the little people is very easy." The band rumbled through a few classic tracks like "Dead In A Motel Room" before Yow joined them on stage to help with a stomping, snarling version of "Wheelchair Epidemic." They closed with their debut single "Hate the Police," which had the elder punks that swarmed the media section slamming and singing along.

Later that night at Emo's, legendary California hardcore band Circle Jerks barely showed their age. Guitarist Greg Hetson (also a member of Bad Religion) jumped around like a schoolboy and singer Keith Morris was screaming at full force from behind his impossible sprout of brown dreadlocks. Where the Dicks show was full of fond memories, the Circle Jerks show had the renewed energy of a band that's been active for a huge chunk of time since forming in 1979. An essential mosh experience from the earliest days of slam-dancing, kids were still practically flinging themselves off the stage to classics like "Coup d'Etat," "When the Shit Hits the Fan" and the Morris-era Black Flag song "Gimme Gimme Gimme."

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