In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a big event going on in Austin this week. SXSW began last Friday, though parties had begun popping up Thursday, and with the official start of the music festival today, is now in full swing. Though I have attended almost every year since the mid-Aughts, I’ve never been a SXSW-fanatic. In fact, some parts of me hate it, and I refuse to spend money on it. I do spend a fair amount of time figuring out what I’m going to do, though, and this year that’s meant listening to SXSW FM to figure out which bands I’ve never heard of that I might want to see, while scheming to get into the big name shows. So I’ve been diligently writing band names down, exploring them further, and trying to come up with a schedule. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass, particularly since it also involves standing in a lot of lines just to get on lists or extra wristbands or whatever, but in the end it’s sort of worth it, kinda, if I look at it sideways and try not to think about the crickets that will take up residence in my ears for the next week or so.
I thought that, since I have been immersed in the music for the last week or so, I’d share some of the bands that I’ve learned about with you. I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about most of them, but I have a hard time even thinking about other music at the moment. When it’s all over, and the dust settles, maybe I’ll try to write a follow up with what I saw and heard.
Up top is a song from EMA’s new album, The Future is Void. I start with EMA, the stage name of Erika M. Anderson, because her’s was the first show I saw at this year’s SXSW. She was playing at a party hosted by Tumblr, which we somehow crashed. EMA was all the rage a couple years ago when she released her first solo album, filled with droning, at times angry pop. It’s not really my thing, though I’d heard she was good live, and knew she had new material, so I thought it would be fun to see her. Saturday night was on an outdoor stage, unfortunately, because it was cold and raining, so the few of us who were brave enough to stand outside were huddled under an awning 20 feet from the stage, eliminating the possibility of the show developing any energy whatsoever.
After EMA came No Age, whose latest album was one of Glyph’s favorites of 2013. I’d seen them last year (I think it was last year) at SXSW, and was looking forward to hearing some guitar, but it was still raining, and still cold, and I was soaked, so we left the Tumblr party and wandered around (well, about 3 blocks down the street) until we saw another line and heard music. There was a list, but R, well let’s just say that not being on a list has never been a problem for her, so we were able to find an indoor party, with free booze (I had more French 75’s than I probably should have) and a bunch of dry people having a lot of fun, first with a local band:
And then an amazing DJ, whose name I do not know. By the time we’d left, R had made friends with pretty much everyone (and knew where they’d bought their clothes), we’d danced with pretty much everyone there, hung out with the band a bit, and made new friends. It was a lot of fun, as parties with free drinks tend to be.
We’ve spent the last few days recovering, and tomorrow we hit the venues running. As promised, here are some of the bands we’re planning to see:
If you hadn’t noticed, I’m mildly obsessed with electronic music, and my focus is going to be on electronic, DJ, and hip hop this year. Young and Sick is one of my SXSW FM discoveries. They feel a lot like, well, a lot of artists — SBTRKT, Flume, with a little of Active Child’s grandioseness at times. I’m hoping to see them at least once.
Little Dragon I knew before (I’ve even shared them here before), and I’m looking forward to hearing their quirky but infectious Swedish ambient synth-pop.
If I can make it to see Julio Bashmore, I expect to be dancing.
Here’s what I know about Four Tet: It is the stage name of Kieran Hebden, who was in Fridge, who were kinda awesome.
I had never heard of FKA Twigs until I heard “Papi Pacify” on SXSW radio, and was immediately hooked. Judging by the number of views that video has, a lot of other people had heard of her.
You know when I talked about the 60s soul revival? I had no idea that there was a 60s psychedlic rock revival too. It’s pretty awesome, even if it’s straight up imitation.
I got nothing. It’s kinda bland, but it’s exactly like what I was listening to 12 years ago, and I’m nothing if not nostalgic.
Not safe for work if people might be listening close enough to get rather obvious sexual metaphors.
Kids making catchy electro-pop. It has to be fun, right?
Falconberry (awesome name) is a local artist. I’ve never seen her, but have heard good things, so I’m hoping to catch her, if not at SXSW, then sometime soon.
D&B, and more dancing. Yes, please.
Oh, and I tried (and failed) to get into the show by these guys, whom I’d never heard before but have been told are pretty big (not safe for work in any possible sense, the n-word is in the title!!! and it’s going to get stuck in your head, because that shit cray):
I recommend checking out the radio station. You’re going to have to wade through a lot of awful stuff, but there are little gems here and there, and you might even find a new favorite.
*This is how people say it. I hate when they say it that way, though I cannot tell you why I hate it when they say it that way. I just do.