SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Kelly Willis, Cesar Rosas, Jimmie Vaughan, Beaver Nelson, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her, Golden Arm Trio, Queens of the Stone Age, Right Said Fred, Black Kali Ma, Harvey Sid Fisher, Laika & the Cosmonauts, Waco Brothers, Neko Case, Cibo Matto, Meat Puppets, Asylum Street Spankers, Exene Cervenka, ¡Viva Malpache!, Sister 7, Sexton Sextet, and the Original P. Those are just a handful of notable South by Southwest 1999 showcases currently scheduled during the 11pm-1am swing on Saturday; headlining gigs on the best night of Austin's annual music industry conference. Them and Tom Waits. Headliner of all headliners. Now if Waits were playing the Austin Music Hall as SXSW had proposed, we'd all be slapping each other on the back in anticipation of seeing a legendary songwriter and musician who does not tour and rarely plays live. Instead, Waits insisted on playing the more elegant Paramount Theatre to an intimate audience of 1,300 rather than the 3,000 people who could have fit into the Music Hall. Guess that leaves plenty of Waits' fans at the Man's Ruin showcase at Emo's. "I want people to see Queens of Stone Age," said SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke upon announcing Waits' confirmation last week. And he does, too, because year after year, it's the same damn thing: People complain there are no headliners, so SXSW bends over backwards to accommodate them, and winds up getting hit with the backlash of not supporting upcoming talent. Whatever. With more than 800 bands playing over the next four days -- and literally hundreds more vying for your attention with unofficial showcases -- if you can't find 20 or so acts to fill your time, then you belong in Ft. Lauderdale for spring break. That you're reading this means your smarter than that, so as usual the Chronicle has provided a guide to nearly 300 acts playing SXSW this year. You've heard about some, and not at all about others. Headliners and unknowns -- often one and the same. Like Queens of Stone Age, for instance. Maybe SXSW should have put them at the Austin Music Hall instead.-- Raoul Hernandez

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