Casual Victim Pile

Hometown SXSW showcasing sampler

By Margaret Moser, Fri., March 12, 2010

The Fireants
The Fireants
Photo by Shelley Hiam

U21 Comes of Age

The Fireants (Wednesday, March 17, Momo's, 7:30pm)

Speak (Wednesday, March 17, Encore, 9pm)

Chief Rival (Thursday, March 18, Headhunters, 7pm)

The Steps (Saturday, March 20, Aces Lounge, 12mid)

U21 and U18. Take note, because in Austin, those terms define the homegrown bands under ages 21 and 18. They're the townies, the kids who are all right because they grew up playing in a community that reveres and supports music. Take Speak, whose Hear Here EP would have spawned smash MTV hits if this was 1984; instead, it's 2010 and Speak is unquestionably the U21 buzz band of the moment. Ditto for the Fireants, who just left behind their award-winning U18 past. The teen quintet's Austin-centric roots rock suggests the band members are in for long careers; fiddler Ian Stewart is headed to Berklee. The Steps' 2009 release, Take It All In, was a tough homage to garage rock informed by the band's having played together since they were kids. The quartet is graduating out of the U21 class, just as Chief Rival is edging to the high side of the U18 bands. Its soundtrack psych is a little left of the Black Angels but totally this side of heaven. (Full disclosure: Chief Rival's Zeke Barbaro is Austin Chronicle Publisher Nick Barbaro's son.)

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