With hundreds of bands converging upon Austin and what seems like a zillion shows to choose from, planning a South by Southwest schedule can be a daunting task. Last year
, we tried to make some sense of it all by offering up our hour-by-hour recommendations list. This year we done did it again—but that's not all! We're hosting three day parties
(M. Ward, Indigo Girls, Daniel Johnston, Passion Pit, The Avett Brothers, Heartless Bastards, The Wrens, Samantha Crain, many more, oh my!) this week, covering the festival in various ways on the Festivus
blog, and anticipating that
coverage with all sorts of great SXSW-related stuff
right here on these interwebby pages. It's a lot to take in, but we know you're good for it. Enjoy, and here are our SXSW 2009 music picks, conveniently split up by day:
Wed. March 18
12 p.m. - Anni Rossi (Ms. Bea's) - This
classically-trained violinist with a decidedly modern sensibility has
been pegged as the new Andrew Bird. We're still pretty happy with the
old Andrew Bird, but excited to check her out.
1:30 p.m. - Amanda Palmer (Radio Room)
- We've shown the Brechtian Dresden Doll attention in our pages, and
we've got her playing our party. Come see what all the fuss is about.
2 p.m. - The Deep Dark Woods - This
folky four-piece from Saskatoon just released its latest album,
Winter Hours. The band’s timeless, haunting tunes feature frontman
Ryan Boldt’s deep, mournful voice and lovely harmonies. And in
times like these, who can’t relate to Boldt’s lament of “All
The Money I Had Is Gone”?
3 p.m. - Hockey (Peckerhead's) -
There’s a mini-movement of soulful new-wave rock out there with
bands like Chester French, Black Kids and the Virgins. Look for these
guys to join their ranks very soon.
4 p.m. - Elvis Perkins in Dearland
(Mohawk) - Here's a rare chance to go see a show and beg to hear the
new stuff—Perkins' new record is stupendous. He and his wizened
band update traditional country and folk in a way that makes one feel
proud to be American (but not in a xenophobic way).
5:15 p.m. - Rolo Tomassi (The Peacock)
- These female-fronted UK metal-urgists, playing the Cannibal Cheerleader party, win this year's
band-name contest with their ode to the faceless murderer in L.A. Confidential.
6 p.m. - Box Elders (Ms. Bea's) -
Garage rock trio from Omaha, Neb., that plays catchy rock 'n' roll with a
pop fringe. The band's live show features a drummer who handles percussion and keyboards, as well as two brothers who
aren’t afraid to flaunt their flowing blond hair.
7:30 p.m. - B.o.B (Fader Fort) -
Atlanta rapper B.o.B is a multi-threat artist who produces,
arranges, raps and mixes his own and other artists’ music. Since a
young age, B.o.B has landed producer and guest spots because of his
unique rapping style—a mix of party like Outkast and tough like DMX.
8 p.m. - Jucifer (Emo's Annex) -
Jet-engine-volume rock isn't always our thing. But good God—you've
never seen a show until you've seen this pair power through a set,
with their thunderous wall of amps towering above the crowd. Don't forget those earplugs.
8 p.m. - A. Armada (Soho Lounge) - With
the word "armada" in their name, one expects this band’s music to
dominate the listener. Instead, the tunes they create feel like
sailing through a billowing dreamscape that climbs on echoing notes.
9 p.m. - Starfucker (Radio Room) - This
Portland quartet produces songs of Animal Collective-grade structure.
The band's highly-engineered electronic texture adds countless layers
to its simple, dreamy lyrics and the effect is
startling—frenetic and moody all at once.
10 p.m. - The Ugly Beats (Habana Calle
6) - Austin natives The Ugly Beats conjure up memories of '90s garage
bands—but in a good way. Their energetic live shows and folk-rock
tunes make them a very fun band to see live.
10:30 p.m. - Dosh (Mohawk) - The
beatmaker who helped ignite the looping-pedal frenzy in Andrew Bird
is like the Bob Ross of musicmaking—skillfully blending live drums,
samples, and vocal bits to create an awe-inspiring whole "portrait" for
11 p.m. - Modern Skirts (Cedar Door) -
Yet another awesome Athens, Ga., band, the Modern Skirts defy genres
by surprising the listener with irregular music constructions and hidden gems within the liner notes. Paste has been following them since
2005, and with good reason.
12 a.m. - Blind Pilot (Submerged) -
Maybe it was the rising gas prices, but this duo took off on a West
Coast bike tour last year. They hauled all their equipment without
the assistance of motorized vehicles, playing small towns
where they exposed the townspeople to their songwritery folkitude.
Comparisons of their sound to that of The Shins seem inevitable.
12 a.m. - Magic Magic (Spiro's) -
There's something about Magic Magic's twin drum kits. Dylan Gough and
Mike Hlady complement each other as they bang along to an almost
mystical rhythm. But that's not the only special thing about the quintet; their constant experimentation with string
instruments creates strong, unique melodies topped with John Murphy's
haunting and poignant lyrics.
12 a.m. - The Decemberists (Stubb's) - Hear their new album, The Hazards of Love, performed live and in its entirety for the first time.
1 a.m. - Brick Bandits (Speakeasy
Kabaret) - If you get into an indie-rock rut, this New Jersey (ya heard!) DJ collective will
shake things up. Dig the Fox NFL theme song remix, and start getting hyped.
1 a.m. - Pong (Room 710) - Sci-fi
whammy pedal synth sounds. Check. Cowbell. Check. Tentative minutes-long intros. Check. Speaker box. What the hell else do you need?
Thurs. March 19
11 a.m. - Flatstock poster show (Austin
Convention Center) - After a night full of music, crawl out of bed a
little early Thursday morning and head to the American Poster Institute's Flatstock for some of the
best retail therapy money can buy—a showroom full of artists from
across the country hawking their amazing gig posters.
12 p.m. - Women (Urban Outfitters) -
Weirdo beardo lo-fi Canadian rock that's drawn comparisons to early Velvet Underground.
12:45 p.m. - The Low Anthem (Home Slice
Pizza) - The Low Anthem's harmonica-and-string-flavored ballads are
as haunting as they are gorgeous. This group of Providence
up-and-comers knows how to break your heart and make you smile at the
1 p.m. - Loch Lomond (SESAC Day Stage @
Austin Convention Center) - Portland's Loch Lomond builds its tunes
into glorious chamber folk that should resonate with fans of Iron &
Wine or Bon Iver. Singer Ritchie Young started the band as a solo
project in 2003, but since then the group has ranged from one to 10
members. Loch Lomond's song "Field Report" has been on
repeat in the Paste office.
2 p.m. - BLK JKS (The Parish) - We've
already hyped this band in the Emergent section of last year's
International Issue, but it doesn't hurt to remind you that they
rule. If their shape-shifting studio tracks are any indication, the
live show should be bonkers (and you can check it even if you're not in Austin, thanks to NPR's live coverage). Expect blown heads.
2:30 p.m. - Laura Gibson (Jovita's) -
Laura Gibson truly lives up to her new label;
"Hush" perfectly describes her sound. On her
latest album, Beast of Seasons, the Portland singer-songwriter croons
in a voice so quiet, it's almost a whisper. But if you cock your
head, cup your ear, and listen in, you'll find her ballads well worth
blocking out the rest of the noisy world.
3 p.m. - Port O'Brien (Peckerhead's) -
During the summer, Van Pierszalowski works on a commercial salmon
fishing boat off Alaska's Kodiak Island, and Cambria Goodwin works as
a head baker in nearby Larsen Bay. But the rest of the year, they
make quirky, timeless music that's made fans of M. Ward and Johnny
3:30 p.m. - Justin Townes Earle (SESAC
Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center) - Steve's son brings a mighty
fine swagger of his own to outlaw country-Americana. On the surface,
Justin Townes Earle sounds old-school. He's also covered The Replacements. That gives you an idea of where he’s coming from and his wide range of
influences. Highly recommended.
4 p.m. - Titus Andronicus (Urban
Outfitters) - At times sounding like the Clash’s self-titled debut
with Paul Westerberg on vocals, this Jersey quintet’s unrefined,
dirty-sounding guitars and charmingly sloppy vocals are desperately
needed in today’s over-produced industry mindset.
5:10 p.m. - The Urges (Blue Velvet
Vintage) - Think psychedelic vocals and progression mixed with punk
instrumentation and energy, and that’s about all you need to know
before you see Dublin’s The Urges.
6:45 p.m. - Lissy Trullie (Fader Fort)
- New York singer/songwriter/guitarist/fashion icon Lissy Trullie
commands attention with her deep, throaty voice and does one hell of
a Hot Chip cover. Androgyny has never looked—or sounded—so good.
7:45 p.m. - The Rural Alberta Advantage
(Central Presbyterian Church) - Last year, the RAA self-released its
arresting 13-track debut, Hometowns. The album, about “hometowns
and heartbreak,” includes the
two-and-a-half minute closing gem “In the Summertime.” This Toronto
three-piece had blogs abuzz throughout 2008 with one question: How is
this band still unsigned?
8:25 p.m. - Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
(Mohawk) - What do you get when you mix a blonde
husband-and-wife-duo, a 13-year-old drummer, and tons of
syncopated, indie-meets-ska beats? Mt. St. Helens Vietnam
Band, apparently. With a name like that, it's hard to not be
9 p.m. - Lisa Hannigan (The Parish) -
Earlier this year, Damien Rice’s former sidekick crafted a lovely
album, Sea Sew, full of whimsy and soft voices. Hannigan is sure to make even
the biggest concert feel intimate.
9:30 p.m. - Thao With The Get Down Stay
Down (The Parish) - And in the other corner of The Parish:
Finger-pickin' guru and beatboxing badass singer/songwriter (and Paste favorite!) Thao
Nguyen and her spirited band of merry men.
10 p.m. - Wild Light (Emo's Main Room)
- Wild Light have written the hands-down catchiest song of the year,
"California On My Mind"—as long as you can get past its
shiny, happy, filthy chorus. The band's live shows are more raucous
than the album, but the melodies still shine through.
10:30 p.m. - Casiotone for the
Painfully Alone (Ms. Bea's) - CFTPA, a.k.a. man-behind-the-machine
Owen Ashworth, has been toying with his formula of lonely beats +
heartripping speak-singing, resulting in a glorious new sound that
retains the intelligence but lightens up the mopery a bit. His upcoming album, Vs. Children, features an ingenious use of the old standard "When the Saints Go Marching In."
11 p.m. - Hyperpotamus
(The Hideout) - Spain's answer to Rahzel is a one-man a cappella wunderkind who isn’t serving up your daddy’s doo-wop.
Incomprehensible and disparate guttural noises find themselves strung
together seeking unison, and oddly, while lacking harmony, still find
it. Explore the chasm of cantankerous human sounds churned up from
the depths of the vocal chords (near yodels, chicken sounds, kazoo)
and discover that in combination, they’re pretty darn catchy.
12 a.m. - Brother Ali (Habana Bar
Backyard) - This albino rapper is known for his multilayered lyrics,
which he spits out quicker than a snake flicking its tongue. But his
skewered witticisms are so deeply personal, he keeps you hooked on
12 a.m. - Passion Pit (Emo's Main Room)
- This year's buzziest band will be playing all over Austin, but it's
worth the effort to squeeze into one to for soft electronic beats
that wrap you up like a warm blanket. Plus, lead singer Michael Angelakos's wildly careening voice is one of the most unique we've
heard since Mike Patton's wildman yowls fronting Faith No More.
1 a.m. - Fight Like Apes (The Rio) -
The group's latest EP, You Filled His Head With Fluffy Clouds and Jolly Ranchers, What Did You Think Was Going To Happen? is a riotous, punkish explosion, with MayKay’s
exasperated vocals squeaking with delight.
1 a.m. - Le Castle Vania (Barcelona) -
One of Atlanta's most excellent DJs takes his glitchy,
gloomy—and highly danceable—turntable skills to Austin. It's only
Thursday! Get that ass on the floor!
Fri. March 20
12 p.m. - Parenthetical Girls (Habana
Calle 6 Annex) - This Portland quartet loves to mesh ambient strings
with lyrics about wide-eyed, sexual angst. Listening to the group's
latest album, Entanglements, is akin to reading Ginsberg's
Howl, where "angel headed hipsters" wander through the haze
seeking answers and finding only questions. As with that
counterculture classic, Parenthetical Girls drag you through their
androgynous, postmodern confusion with lyrical brilliance.
1 p.m. - Bishop Allen (Mohawk Patio) -
These Brooklyn indie poppers expanded their horizons by making a very
musically clever third album. Though they resemble an upbeat
version of The Shins at times, they have various catchy (but strong)
tracks that feature several string instruments. The band's spankin'-new album, Grrr..., is just what you
want to hear on a Sunday afternoon while enjoying the weather and a
1 p.m. - Loney Dear (Club Primos) -
Loney, Dear was the perfect companion for Andrew Bird on tour. With
Dear John, Loney, Dear reaches a point of intimacy with his inner
struggles. Loneliness carries from one song to the next, with
melodies that caress your ears and fill your heart.
2 p.m. - Madi Diaz (The Tap Room at
Six) - Six years ago, she was a musical prodigy featured in the Paul
Green Rock School documentary. Now she's a 22-year-old songwriter who
makes lovely indie folk pop with partner Kyle Ryan. Plus, she does a
country cover of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again."
3 p.m. - Blue Scholars (Peckerhead's) -
The names Sabzi and Geologic are street currency in grey Seattle, and
not just for hipsters bored with Gibbard. This hip-hop duo really
knows how to work a crowd, dropping some top-notch rhymes while
they're at it.
4 p.m. - Felice Brothers (Dirty Dog
Bar) - Washboards, harmonicas, accordions, tattoos—three brothers
and a couple of friends from New York’s Catskill Mountains play
some pretty convincing vagabond tunes. You’ll be thinking of
hittin’ the road in no time.
4:30 p.m. - Richard Swift (Mohawk) -
Supposedly Swift's upcoming album Atlantic Ocean was recorded in
Wilco’s Chicago loft using an analog recorder that Jeff Tweedy sold
to Swift. If that story isn’t enough to entice you, check
out how the swooping synthesizer gives the music an artificial heart that
bumps and beats. The jaunty thoroughfare of two-timing synth is guaranteed to complement a hook that demands
5 p.m. - Delta Spirit (Mohawk Patio) -
Matthew Vasquez leads this San Diego quintet with his passionate
vocals, belting, “My love is coming I can barely hardly wait / My
heart is thumping I can feel it more with every beat” on fan
favorite “Trashcan,” during which, yes, the lid of a trashcan is
played. Expect a few new tunes from these guys in Austin.
5:50 p.m. - The Coathangers (Whole
Foods Market Rooftop) - Atlanta girl quartet The Coathangers have an
undeniable chemistry that translates into great energy and music.
They evolve every time you see them, changing their voices and who
plays what. Their lyrics make you want to start a party and let go of
all the stress of your day, and what better time and place than 5:50 p.m.,
on a Friday, on the roof of Whole Foods?
6 p.m. - Nico Vega (Tiniest Bar) -
There’s not much more to say about this trio of musicians from L.A.
that can’t be viewed on a YouTube clip of them playing live. Expect
an animated performance by foxy vocalist Aja Volkman, and a range
from slowed down whispers to strained near-screams.
7:30 p.m. - These Modern Socks (Iron Gate Lounge) - A band name swiped from a Mr. Show sketch is almost always a surefire sign of awesome. The Minneapolis popsters of These Modern Socks pair smart lyrics with a whimsical rockness and a willingness to experiment with twisted sounds.
8 p.m. - The Painted Birds (Volume) -
These Vancouver indie rockers are named after the highly
controversial 1965 novel by Jerzy Kosinski. The themes from the book
are reflected in their lyrics; the group tackles hatred and
perversion, as well as other taboo topics, creating tracks that are
emotionally intense but also rich with melodies.
8:40 p.m. - Yuppies (Headhunters) -
Fans of crowded, beer-soaked basement house shows will love Yuppies’
fuzzy, lo-fi sound. Expect a high-energy show from the trio,
and don’t be surprised if you see frontman Boogs play the keyboard
with his face.
9 p.m. - Wildbirds & Peacedrums (Antone's) - This Swedish husband-and-wife duo forge thunderous jazzy, soulful compositions from simple drums and vocals—but the space they fill with just the two of them could carve whole new caverns of sound.
10 p.m. - The Ettes (Mohawk Patio) -
Not the Ronettes. Not the Marvelettes. Not even the Raveonettes. Just
the Ettes, and they have an early CBGB’s thing going on with sassy
frontwoman Coco leading the way.
11 p.m. - Superdrag (Pangaea) - Although
they emerged shortly after Weezer in the midst of the whole mid-‘90s
geek-rock thing, John Davis and his bandmates had a string of very
distinct albums. And after a lengthy hiatus, they’re finally back.
Celebrate good times, c'mon!
12 a.m. - St. Vincent (Antone's) -
Annie Clark will debut songs from Actor, her new lovely, fuzzy album,
in her native Texas. We're psyched to see her again.
12:50 a.m. - The Queers (Red 7 Patio) -
One of the few people who can actually say he does punk rock—and
punk rock only—for a living, frontman Joe King and his
(ever-changing) band have become a staple in the genre, pretty much
offending everyone and every minority/majority along the way. Vulgar,
politically incorrect, loud, catchy and fast: the way punk should be.
1 a.m. - Shearwater (18th Floor at
Hilton Garden Inn) - The Texas natives in Shearwater never fail to captivate with the heady combination of Jonathan Meiburg's skylight-scraping voice and a huge cabinet of instrumental curiosities. Bonus: The band will be debuting some songs from the upcoming album they've been working on.
Sat. March 21
12 p.m. - SXSW Interview: The Hold
Steady (Austin Convention Center) - The Paste favorites have had a
hell of a ride, emerging from both Minneapolis and the ashes of Craig
Finn and Tad Kubler's former band, Lifter Puller. With new DVD A
Positive Rage due next month, count on some engrossing stories from
the best (and most polarizing?) band of the late '00s.
1 p.m. - Venice is Sinking (The
Sidebar) - Athens, Ga.'s Venice is Sinking rivals the best ambient
rock bands. The harmonies and orchestral feel
of the tracks transcend their genre, making it not simply slow music,
but experimental, uplifting, and fascinating.
2:15 p.m. - Harlem Shakes (Red Eyed
Fly) - These friends of Deerhoof just rocked our office, and
now we are obsessed.
3 p.m. - Deastro (Club Primos) - Young
man from Detroit (Randolph Chabot) gets restless, creates entire album (last year's
incredible Keepers) with tools at his disposal—mostly computer, synth and
voice—and incites hyper-jubilant dancing in anyone within earshot.
3:30 p.m. - Janelle Monae
(Peckerhead's) - She's like an updated female version of
Prince—absolutely commanding on stage with quirky but accessible
pop songs and an insane amount of soul. Catch her before she's
playing arenas and piling up Grammys.
4 p.m. - The Love Language
(Peckerhead's) - Howling, bouncy indie rock from North Carolina.
5 p.m. - Dear & The Headlights (The
Purevolume.com House) - Piano-driven rock hasn't sounded this urgent
(and, OK, slightly emo) since Ben Folds Five.
6 p.m. - The Bird and the Bee (Waterloo Records) - This L.A. duo spins sweet ditties out of the gossamer of singer Inara George's voice and the synths of producer/keyboardist Greg Kurstin. They've also had a video directed by Eric Wareheim (of Tim & Eric) and a highly memorable fan-created clip (for "Again & Again") that demonstrates the total radness of the Mac application Time Machine.
7:40 p.m. - White Lies (Stubb's) - The
London trio’s debut, To Lose My Life..., hit No. 1 on the charts in
the U.K. Not a bad start for a group of 20- and 21-year-olds. The
video for the band’s current single, “Farewell to the
Fairground,” is reflective of White Lies’ sound—dark and
8 p.m. - Funeral Party (Emo's Jr.) - This foursome from L.A., currently on the road with ...Trail
of Dead, constantly garners comparisons to The Mars Volta. Funeral
Party puts on a show filled with dancy tunes infused with youthful
energy, which can be heard on the band’s current release, Bootleg
9:30 p.m. - Eugene Mirman (Esther's
Follies) - Look, you're in Austin, and surrounded by nubile young things
who want to meet other nubile young things. Why not go getcha some
advice from the (Mir)man himself? The NYC comedian is a certified "sexpert," after all.
10 p.m. - Ezra Furman and the Harpoons (Submerged) - Gordon Gano's playing SXSW, too, but if you miss him,
this young gun from Chicago may be the next best thing. Or even
11 p.m. - ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (Emo's) - The Austin stalwarts may have shifted the lineup around a bit over the last few years, but they're still as gnarly—and artsy—as ever and should get a boisterous response from the hometown crowd.
12 a.m. - HEALTH (Mohawk Patio) -
They’re loud. Really, really loud. And noisy. But that’s what
makes the L.A. quartet so engaging. Definitely for people who enjoy
1 a.m. - Monotonix (Mohawk Patio) - The
members of the Tel Aviv trio, typically clad in short shorts and
sporting magnificent mustaches and heads of hair, are known for their
crazy antics at shows: refusing to be confined to a stage, throwing
beer and trash, stage diving and lighting stuff on fire. These guys
are a must-see for sure.
We couldn't have put this together without the wonderful Sched.org, where you can create, print, link to, or embed your own schedule. Happy SXSW-ing!