SXSW often provides attendees with a bit of a dilemma: is it best to see new, undiscovered bands or catch once-in-a-lifetime performances from established artists? On Friday at The Stages on Sixth, the choice didn’t even have to be made, as the lineup boasted some incredible up-and-comers as well as veteran performers—all in the same spot.
Nashville legends Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale kicked things off. Sporting a healthy amount of paisley (Paste editor-in-chief Josh Jackson very rightly declared them “the best-dressed men in Austin”), they performed material from their recent collaborative album, Buddy and Jim.
Following Miller and Lauderdale’s fantastic set, we switched gears with The Virginmarys, a rollicking trio from England. The group seemed to bring a horde of followers with them from across the pond; after their set, they were swarmed by a group of enthusiastic fans buzzing in British accents.
Back inside, Spirit Family Reunion scored a room full of new fans during their passionate performance. They hail from Brooklyn, but their sound is pure Appalachia. They closed their set full-force with “I’ll Find A Way,” with the entire crowd singing along to the chorus. By the time they left the stage, I heard “who are those guys? They were great!” more times than I could count.
Lissie played to a packed outdoor stage, performing some material for her forthcoming new album and closing her set with her trademark cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” before Ron Sexsmith performed inside and expressed disbelief that The Zombies were playing later on.
After Chicago’s On An On turned in a great outdoor set, The Zombies—yes, those Zombies—really did perform. The ‘60s legends behind hits like “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season” played a few cuts from their newest album for the massive crowd (easily our biggest of the three days so far) before busting out the crowd-pleasing hits.
It would’ve been enough to end with that, but there was more great music to follow, with The 1975 closing the outdoor stage and the incomparable Billy Bragg wrapping up the indoor stage. Bragg brought out Amanda Palmer during the end of the set and after duetting with him, Palmer closed things out with a rousing version of “The Ukelele Anthem.”
Check out photos by Yossy Arefi in the gallery below, and stay tuned for more coverage. And if you’re in Austin today, be sure to stop by the Stages on Sixth for more fantastic bands.