SXSW Saturday Picks & Sleepers
Saturday blurbs rally!
8pm, Auditorium Shores By the time the Cult stalked off the Austin Music Hall stage in 1995 and broke up weeks later, Rick Rubin's Electric devolution had devolved into This Is Spinal Tap. Reunited a decade-plus and 25 years after the UK quartet's Angus and Malcolm Young canniness, Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy cock their Choice of Weapon on May 22, "The Wolf" snapping Love and "For the Animals" sparking some Sonic Temple.
– Raoul Hernandez
8pm, Easy Tiger Patio Dallas' Nervebreakers burned down stages headlined by the Ramones, the Clash, and the Sex Pistols, issuing classic single "My Girlfriend Is a Rock" along the way. We Want Everything – recorded in 1980 and released in 1994 – followed. Now with both a vintage compilation and a new album slated for release, the Nervebreakers serve notice that classic Texan punk still rules. – Michael Toland
12mid, Barbarella Patio Houston's Third Ward produced this Southern hip-hop original whose raps draw on punk and dadaist traditions. Over just a few short years, Fat Tony (born Anthony Obi to Nigerian parentage) has gone from underground rapper to nationally known collaborator with the likes of Das Racist. Austin audiences know him from appearances at Fun Fun Fun Fest, while a follow-up to his debut RABDARGAB should only broaden that appeal. – Dan Oko
1am, the Main By now, every hip-hop fan – and even the NPR set – has heard of Brother Ali, a legally blind Minneapolis Muslim albino rapper who wears emotional scars like Boy Scout badges. Ali earned a loyal fan base by writing deeply personal songs and going balls-out on stage night after night. It's been three years since Ali's Us, but expect the forthcoming LP Mourning in America, Dreaming in Color. – Thomas Fawcett
7:30pm, Malverde; Fri., 1am, Empire Automotive Sprawling live shows and dance-floor anthems unleashed by Escort have placed the Brooklyn-based crew at the head of the nu-disco revival, yet the genre label hardly captures its wild catharsis of fusion. Pulsing behind the beats of producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balis and lifted by the striking vocals of frontwoman Adeline Michèle, Escort's eponymous LP finally debuted last year, culling its already popular, remix-ransacked singles from the past five years. – Doug Freeman
7:45pm, Red 7 Columbus, Ohio's lo-finest turn a pell-mell array of guitars, vintage synths, deadpan vocals, and found sounds into arresting hallucinogenic warbles delivered with maximum fuzz. The duo calls this sound "shitgaze." Their 2011 album, Laced, is noisy, chaotic, and even painful at points. Yet once their cut-and-paste wave of misplaced loops and samples washes over you, it's all but impossible to swim away. – Greg Beets
8pm, Red 7 Patio Progressive hardcore by way of Rohnert Park, Calif., Ceremony was last seen locally going berserk on the Lamar Presbyterian Bridge after Fun Fun Fun Fest in October. The quintet has since released a Matador debut, Zoo, produced by John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Weezer). While the group's early aggression still boils over, the disc delves deeper, with the feral writhing of Scratch Acid, Wire's post-punk attitude, and the radical pursuit of Fucked Up.– Austin Powell
8pm, Spill As notable for being the session sitar player for the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Black Angels as for his previous outfit (the High Dials), Canadian Rishi Dhir is Elephant Stone. And it isn't the least bit Shankar-scary as you might associate with sitar. The follow-up to 2009's The Seven Seas, a time-bending Brit-pop journey down the Mersey from Manchester to Liverpool, is out later this year. – Michael Bertin
8pm, Buca Lounge Independent rock stalwart Stamey is in town under a few guises – most notably with his influential power-pop group the dB's – but his solo career is also worth noting, from the work he did in the early Nineties to his recordings more than a decade later alone and with backing band Yo La Tengo. As excellent as it is to hear Stamey in a group setting, he should be sought out on his lonesome, as well. – Adam Schragin
9pm, Red 7 Patio Last year's Staring at the X was an album destined to be overlooked, yet it stuck to its overreaching aspirations, prog-folk intensity, and high production values to the vision's bitter end. It takes guts to make a thinking man's album that few people will ever hear. The New York crew might enter South by Southwest feeling underappreciated, but it only takes one set to understand otherwise. – Luke Winkie
9pm, the Tap Room at Six Warm and charming, the roaming Austinite also snaps sharp and restless à la Cass McCombs, as evidenced in the mercurial sways of his songwriting that cut from earnest love songs to embittered and disillusioned angst. Likwise, his shows can explode into unabashed dance parties or poignant acoustic sets, his nasally folk-pop pitch and the acute sense of detailed emotion maturing well following 2009's impressive sophomore LP, Cuddlebug. – Doug Freeman
10:10pm, Mohawk After propelling his notoriety with some significant SXSW buzz last year, Los Angeles beatmaker Matthewdavid returns with a long-inked Brainfeeder deal and no debut album to promote. With the crisscrossing, sample-smothering Outmind just under a year old, expect a whole batch of new tricks from the kid. – Luke Winkie
6pm, Mexican American Cultural Center; 11pm, Tap Room at Six When he's not sideman/producer with BoDeans, John Mellencamp, and Patti Griffin, local multi-instrumentalist Michael Ramos leads this funkified electro-cumbia juggernaut. Spinning traditional Latin, Tex-Mex, and Afro-Cuban rhythms with a modern electronic touch, the band's third album from late last year, El Brown Recluse, is a sonic carnival of delights. – Jay Trachtenberg
Gary Lucas Plays Coffin Joe's 'This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse'
11pm, the Hideout This avant guitarist has played with Captain Beefheart and Jeff Buckley, and currently fronts NYC art-rockers Gods & Monsters. Of late, he's been composing original solo-guitar scores for sci-fi and classic horror films. Here, he'll perform his score for this 1967 Brazilian cult bloodcurdler. In years past, Lucas has treated SXSW Music and Film buffs to scores for The Golem and a Spanish-language Dracula. – Jay Trachtenberg
11pm, Mohawk Patio Longtime Ty Segall collaborator Mikal Cronin successfully stepped into the spotlight with his self-titled 2011 solo debut. What makes Cronin's garage rock so compelling is anything-goes arrangements that transition from an homage to the Beach Boys into a flute solo atop a hardcore bridge. It shouldn't work, but that's what happens on "Is It Alright," which is why this album has more staying power than Segall's Goodbye Bread.
– Greg Beets
12mid, Valhalla Orville Bateman Neeley III leads arguably the two most thrilling punk bands in Texas at the moment: recent Maximum Rocknroll cover stars OBN III's and Bad Sports. Balanced by Mind Spiders' Daniel Fried, the latter could pass as extras from the Ramones' Rock 'n' Roll High School, with sneering punk attitude and huge pop hooks evidenced by the Denton/Austin trio's second Dirtnap LP, Kings of the Weekend. – Austin Powell
12mid, Treasure Island Despite the name, the Moog's main attraction isn't analog keyboards; it's Tonyo Szabo. The Hungarian singer's accented voice puts tight, complicated, dark melodies over the band's midtempo, guitar-driven alt-rock. Upcoming LP Seasons in the Underground was produced by Ken Scott, who worked on such landmark records as Ziggy Stardust and The White Album. Early ears on the disc reveal a band that's grown out of imitating the American garage-rock revivalists and become something smoother and deeper. – Kevin Curtin
1am, Mohawk Patio Over the course of three albums, the Strange Boys have perfected languid, drawling, garage R&B, plying an insouciant slacker charm that belies the tightness of the Austin quartet's arrangements. Last year's Rough Trade debut, Live Music, aided in part by Jim Eno's production, delivers a mellower pace to Ryan Sambol's rusty, slurred moans but to the advantage of also pushing his yearning pop lyricism more to the surface.
– Doug Freeman
Electric Eel Shock
1am, the Loft Japan's greatest bar band, Electric Eel Shock, takes American rock & roll to almost absurdist extremes. The Tokyo-based power trio understands the universal power of the riff, with a caterwauling live show and two near-classic albums, 2004's Go Europe and the following year's Beat Me. For the first time since 2006, EES finally returns to the states on the strength of the romping Live Around the World Vol. 1. – Austin Powell
1am, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room Back in the storied Sixties, you couldn't get more dark/light dichotomous than the Velvet Underground vs. the Mamas & the Papas. Cigarette alto (with a pitch-perfect squeak) Natalie Ribbons could tackle Nico and Mama Cass, and drummer Lauren Hess definitely Moe Tuckers that thump. Perhaps the perfect gray area would be the twisted entropy of the Kennedy-Bouvier kin of Grey Gardens, which Agent Ribbons coincidentally has a song about. – Kate X Messer
1:10am, Haven GZA is often celebrated as the most intellectual member of the Wu-Tang Clan. That's why he's called "the Genius." He's responsible for one of hip-hop's paramount albums, 1995 solo release Liquid Swords. Rumored to have a new album coming down the pipe, GZA might just drop some unheard rhymes. For hip-hop fans sick of party rap and one-liners, we recommend going back to this metaphorical master. – Kevin Curtin
12:45am, the Madison Best known for his high-profile remixes for Radiohead, M.I.A., and Basement Jaxx, not to mention an unexpected collaboration with Drake, London producer Sbtrkt (Aaron Jerome) released his groundbreaking debut for Young Turks last year. Like James Blake, Sbtrkt takes a more avant-garde approach to dubstep, incorporating elements of R&B, classic soul, and house music with tectonic bass movements.
– Austin Powell