SXSW Music Festival

Picks & Sleepers


Saturday Picks

OUTDOORS IN AUSTIN: On a good day, Austin really can be the center of the universe. When music and community come together under a big Texas sky, plenty of Shiner Bock in white plastic cups, the state Capital beams. For the third and final day of what SXSW does best -- free outdoor shows (Iggy Pop, Guided by Voices) -- it's the hometown heroes, because Austin loves its own. Davíd Garza, with songs, charisma, and pop star presence, opens, followed by the rootsy wisdom of journeyman songwriter-shaman Walter Salas-Humara. Eric Johnson's Alien Love Child then crank it up a notch with their extraterrestrial blues crunch, topped off by Curt Kirkwood's nasty new Meat Puppets. Bask in it. (Outdoor Stage, Waterloo Park, 4:30-9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

TUMMLER: From the home office in Champaign, Ill., this quartet constructs a groovy hybrid of the Amphetamine Reptile chainsaw massacre and the well-preserved corpse of Southern Fried Rock. A tour with Alabama Thunder Pussy won the band plenty of praise from the stoner-rock brethren. Tummler records their debut for Kozik's Man's Ruin label in June. (Emo's Jr., 8pm) -- Greg Beets

THE CAUSEY WAY: Sporting the fashion sensibilities of Heaven's Gate and the charisma of David Koresh, lead singer Causey is taking a break from overseeing the construction of his compound near Gainesville, Fla., to proselytize the masses from the punk pulpit during SXSW. Be sure to pick up a white chocolate crucifix, a shot of Kool-Aid, and a copy of the band's new With Loving and Open Arms (on Alternative Tentacles) at the schwag table. (Atomic Cafe, 8pm) -- Kim Mellen

GOLDEN ARM SYMPHONY: The only things missing were gowns and tuxedos. Golden Arm Trio's Graham Reynolds and Brown Whörnet's Peter Stopschinski -- keymen for a post-Zorn ensemble and prog-punk band, respectively -- had not only composed their own symphonies, they'd enlisted a symphony worth of help from a local group of classically trained and working professionals to perform it. Only those turned away from both shows didn't rave about the DIY crown-all. It was a night Austin will not soon forget. (Austin Scottish Rite, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

LATINO ROCK ALLIANCE PRESENTS: Sure as the Virgen de Guadalupe prefers corn tortillas to flour, last SXSW's Rock en Español showcases at Saengerrunde Hall were among the festival's highlights. This year, two showcases in nearly adjacent buildings try and tap the biggest demographic Carlos Santana ever stood for; last year, it was mostly Eastside locals -- without badges! -- who came out y roced. Austin's young Latino Rock Alliance helped put this one together, importing Spain's Distrito 14, whose Live in Chicago comes on like Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett teaching Spanish, and Mexico City's four-letter reply to Rage Against the Machine, Resorte. Houston's Los Skarnales bring their nourishing beans & rice ska, aided by the spicy techno rock of L.A.'s Voz de Mano. Mexico City's Riesgo de Contagio go out thrashing. (Saengerrunde Hall, 8pm-Midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

OKKERVIL RIVER: This Austin threepiece weaves together melodies that ring of the Appalachians, whisky, cheatin', and trouble. The occasional banjo and mandolin brings their dark, atmospheric songs into folk-music territory, but their overall sound defies categorization. (Opal Divine, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

ANNA FERMIN'S TRIGGER GOSPEL: Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel released the Lloyd Maines-produced Things to Come in 1999. The Philippines-born Fermin, possessing a soulful voice and notable songwriting talents, leads Trigger Gospel, who are considered one of the most exciting acts in Chicago's crowded scene. (Antone's, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

Continental Drifters
Continental Drifters

KIMMIE RHODES: A Texas songbird of the highest order, Kimmie Rhodes was nominated for a Grammy this year for "Ordinary Heart," a song co-written with and sung by Emmylou Harris. She's also had her songs covered by Amy Grant, Joe Ely, and CeCe Winans. Rhodes will release Rich From the Journey on Jackalope Records in April. (Continental Club, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

AMY RIGBY: Rigby's 1996 breakthrough, Diary of a Mod Housewife, as well as its 1998 follow-up, Middlescene, have ensured the former Jersey housewife a loyal following thanks to the now Nashville-based songwriter's ability in bringing the Eighties to bear on the roots movement of the Nineties. (Cactus Cafe, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

TERRY BOZZIO: Zappa sideman, New Wave Missing Person, Austin drum machine Terry Bozzio rarely dusts off his drum orchestra/ensemble for local audiences, and whether this lead-in gig for John Paul Jones brings on the Bonham-big show or something a little more intimate, skinbeaters like Bozzio aren't thundering on earth as they are in heaven. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

JAPAN NOT FOR SALE SHOWCASE: So Puffy, the big midnight headliners of the How's-It-Not-for-Sale-If-It's-Sony? Showcase, are supposed to be pretty darned Big in Japan. Like with dolls and action figures and everything. But, don't let that stop you. They're the natural heirs to the Pizzicato fortune, and totally rock. In fact, this would be a great showcase to park it for the night, as openers Polysics Devo-lve and Descendant-ize rock one step further, labelmates Love Love Straw rip through Who-ville like nobody's business, singer-songwriter Tomovsky has this sort of Beck/Beatles thing going on, and latenighters FEED feature a woman with very dreamy vocals backed with lush, jangly, early U2-y guitars. Nippon wo tonashinde kudasai! (Park Ave., 9pm-1am) -- Kate X Messer

LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOY: Lubbock-born Norman Odam has had literally 15 minutes of true fame, between his 1968 single "Paralyzed," a proto-thrash screamfest recorded off the cuff with a then-unknown T-Bone Burnett on drums that actually made the Billboard, and his performance on Laugh In, with Dan Rowan mocking him mercilessly and Goldie Hawn shaking that pretty little can of hers. Ledge still makes occasional blips on the radar, including the new Live in Chicago on Bughouse/Pravda, and seeing him is a rare, bizarre experience, so if you're a fan of the outré, don't miss this. (La Zona Rosa, 10pm) -- Ken Lieck

GODZILLA MOTOR COMPANY: As rock radio keeps getting heavier, the future for Austin's Godizilla Motor Company seems to be getting brighter. This unapologetically old-school, no-bullshit metal outfit led my Texas Music Hall of Famer Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys) has shown they've got the songs, riffs, and speed to take a back seat to perhaps only Pantera. (Babe's, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

ANTISEEN: With NASCAR speed and piledriver aggravation, Antiseen came "straight outta trailer" long before Kid Rock sprouted his first man hairs. These mud-spinning punk rock veterans represent Charlotte, N.C., and they're never above busting out paeans to professional wrestlers or requisite Skynyrd covers like "Needle and the Spoon." (Emo's, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

PAT DINIZIO: Not to live in the past, but the Smithereens did produce one perfect piece of poptopia back in the late Eighties with their debut, Especially for You. A dozen or so years later, the band is still together, having released God Save the Smithereens last fall. Singer Pat DiNizio has a small side career with 1997's Songs and Sounds to his solo credit. (Cactus Cafe, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

MODEST MOUSE: This Issaquah, Wash. trio is fast approaching icon status in the indie rock world on the indomitable strength of their last Sub Pop LP, The Lonesome Crowded West. They've just put out a collection of singles and unreleased material called Making Nothing Out of Something on Up Records, and it's full of singer Isaac Brock's searing lead guitar, the looping rhythms of drummer Jeremiah Green, and bassist Eric Judy. (Austin Music Hall, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

Papas Fritas
Papas Fritas

THE WANNABES: When the Wannabes first started they were probably on the very tail end of post-punk. Then they played college music before becoming one of those alternative bands. Maybe now they are some kind of pop band. Funny how little this perennial Austin favorite has changed through all of those tags. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE KISS OFFS: Although the Kiss Offs are no longer a working band, the local quintet turned more than a few ears with last year's pop-punk nugget Goodbye Private Life (Peek-a-Boo). Their propensity for onstage pyromania and destruction can now be unleashed to its fullest potential since defunct bands need not worry about payback. (Blind Pig Pub, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

BRIGHT EYES: Omaha's Bright Eyes is really one guy, the prolific, precocious Conor Oberst, around whom members of Lullaby for the Working Class, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and fellow bands on the Saddle Creek label gather to accompany, mentor, or maybe just bask in the manic glory of. Tragicomic like Daniel Johnston, Oberst supports his all-too-adult lyrics with a muscled ensemble that includes pedal steel, organ, plenty of electronic tweaking, and his own beaten-into-submission acoustic guitar. (Gallery Lombardi, 11pm) -- Kim Mellen

THE SWEET TRIP: San Franciscan electronica has rarely been as soothing as the mellifluous, almost ambient noodlings of the Sweet Trip. Their Alura EP on Darla Records is a clever, cohesive mix of post-midnight swirlscapes and clickbeep fun, perfect for both the dance or living room floor. Fun. (Spiro's, 11pm) -- Marc Savlov

THE BELLRAYS: Hardcore soul punk? It's not that far off the mark. This L.A. quartet's debut, Let It Blast, is aptly titled; they're fronted by a lead singer who has a voice like a blowtorch, and the rest of the band can easily keep pace with her. Think Aretha crossed with the MC5. (Hole in the Wall, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

DOUG SAHM TRIBUTE: Out of all the great lines Doug Sahm sang in his songs, from "is anybody goin' to San Antone?" to "hey, hey," the one to put in the time capsule is "you just can't live in Texas if you don't got a lot of soul." Sahm proved as much every day of his life, and his friends the West Side Horns, Angela Strehli, Texas Mavericks, Joe "King" Carrasco, and more come together at the Home of the Blues to salute the best friend and biggest booster Texas music ever had. He was about a mover. (Antone's, Midnight) -- Christopher Gray

STEVE FORBERT: It's been 22 years since Steve Forbert burst on the American music scene with Alive on Arrival. While many wannabes and never-beens have come and gone in that time, Forbert continues to write compelling songs and perform with an exceptional amount of energy. Evergreen Boy (Koch), produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson, more than adequately displays the current state of Forbert's. (Cactus Cafe, Midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

JAMES INTVELD: James Intveld possesses an array of talents that's made him one of the most sought-after singer/musician/producers in roots music for more than a decade. He's been seen onstage as lead guitarist for the Blasters, as bassist for Dwight Yoakam, and made appearances with Bruce Springsteen, Rosie Flores, and Dale Watson. Intveld releases Somewhere Down the Road on his own label the week of SXSW. (Continental Club, Midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

SEBADOH: Not only do we get a double-evening's-worth of Sub Pop at Emo's on Friday, we also get one of their all-time roster-faves the next night at La Zona Rosa. The music of Sebadoh has been the soundtrack for the development of indie rock ever since Lou Barlow was booted from Dinosaur Jr. way back when, and if last year's The Sebadoh was any indication, Barlow and pal Jason Loewenstein, along with new drummer Russ Pollard, have no intentions of slowing down. (Austin Music Hall, Midnight) -- Christopher Hess

Bernie Worrell & the Woo Warriors
Bernie Worrell & the Woo Warriors

SILVER SCOOTER: Silver Scooter's two Peek-a-Boo albums, The Other Palm Springs and Orleans Parish, are both remarkable in their ability to unite noise rock and pure, sugary pop. With the addition of Shawn Camp on keyboards and second guitar, the Austin fourpiece have expanded their sound without throwing off their perfect balance. (Blind Pig Pub, Midnight) -- Michael Bertin

CONTINENTAL DRIFTERS: Though they've been around awhile, the Continental Drifters are just hitting their stride. The New Orleans based group released Vermillion (Razor & Tie) in late 1999 to considerable acclaim, including its being named Best Album of 1999 by hometown paper Offbeat Magazine. Live they're an impressive force, Susan Cowsill, Peter Holsapple, and Vicki Peterson swapping verses and songs that are gritty, powerful, and cover a broad range of American music. (Mercury, Midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

OMAR & THE HOWLERS: May the Saints bless Omar Dykes. He hasn't changed his swamp-heavy blues rock sound in nearly 25 years and it sounds all the better for it. Singing with a rasp of a voice that perfectly suits the pounding jungle rhythms of the Howlers' rootsy music, Omar howls. (Copper Tank Main, Midnight) -- Margaret Moser

SPOON: Spoon's Britt Daniel could be the most gifted songwriter in Austin. A Series of Sneaks, the Austin trio's 1998 debut for Elektra was 33 minutes of ambitious indie rock brilliance. It was dynamic, taut, economical, and it got them dropped. Daniel took not so subtle revenge with Spoon's last 7-inch, "The Agony of Laffitte" b/w "Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now," an homage to their A&R man. (Gallery Lombardi, Midnight) -- Michael Bertin

CALEXICO: Local jazz trumpeter extraordinare Ephraim Owens sat in on Calexico's recent stop through town, and now we have the recent vinyl-only Descamino EP featuring remixes of songs off 1998's The Black Light that amplifies the jazz that's always lurked beneath the Tucson band's spaghetti western instrumentals. Fear not, Chicago-phobes, because Joey Burns and John Convertino are back to their border-running ways on their long-awaited new full-length, The Hot Rail, set for release in May. (Antone's, Midnight) -- Kim Mellen

TIFT MERRITT & THE CARBINES: Tift Merritt & the Carbines are an unsigned quartet and one of the big buzz bands from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Fronted by Merritt's remarkable voice, this band has a generated a great deal of excitement in one of the hottest music scenes in the U.S. Merritt can be heard on a Yep Roc EP, a collaboration with NC honky-tonkers Two Dollar Pistols, which was a tribute to country duets of the Sixties and Seventies. (Opal Divine, Midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

GAZA STRIPPERS: There's something positively dumb about the Gaza Strippers. Sure they rock with tongue-in-cheek irony, but the fact that the Chicago quartet rocks with such unyielding scorched-earth tactics defeats any chance of being turned off by the sheer silly emptiness of it all. Fronted by former Didjits guitarist/singer Rick Simms, the Strippers can be as blistering as they can be inane. (Emo's, Midnight) -- Michael Bertin

TEYE AND VIVA FLAMENCO: Part-time sideman for Joe Ely and full time badass on his custom made gut-string guitar, Netherlands-born Teye is Austin's answer to Paco de Lucia. Part dazzling technique, part cracking dance beats, and all entertainment, you'd have to travel to Spain to be closer to the heart of flamenco. (Speakeasy, 12:45am) -- David Lynch

...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD: The glorious, burning cacophony of last year's Madonna (Merge) established Trail of Dead as Austin's most notable subterranean export. One cannot fully know this quartet without experiencing the rain of feedback, war cries, and splinters of smashed objects at their live performances. (Gallery Lombardi, 1am) -- Greg Beets

The Dragons
The Dragons

HIGH ON FIRE: Lead by Sleep's Matt Pike, Oakland's High on Fire rips the volume knob off in their quest for amplitude dominance. Thanks to the supernova sound, death growl vox, and claw hammer rhythm of their debut, The Art of Self Defense, it's easy to see why they headline their label' showcase for Man's Ruin. Not advised for pregnant women, those with back pain, or a weak heart. (Emo's Main Room, 1am) -- David Lynch

PACHINKO: This power trio out of Madison, Wisconsin, leaves audiences sweaty and spent with their well-duh bouillabaisse of Seventies hard rock and punk. Besides their high speed and heavy load, Pachinko has a pretty good sense of humor: their latest Alternative Tentacles side is titled Splendor in the Ass Vol. 2: Electric Boogaloo. (Atomic Cafe, 1am) -- Greg Beets

ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY: Rising from the burgeoning punk/hardcore scene in Richmond, Virginia, this axe-grindin' quintet rocks as heavy as lead boots in a marathon. Their melodic volume shots are heard on the group's three ass-kickin' Man's Ruin releases, including the new, more textured, Constellation. Their previous album was cited by CNN as an example of "the current degeneration and immorality of American music and culture today." Take that as a big endorsement. (Emo's Jr., 1am) -- David Lynch

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALL-STARS: It's not enough to come from Memphis with the feral, backwoods sound of roaring flat duo jets, no. Two of this trio's three boys come from the loins of feral, backwoods-sounding studio genius Jim Dickinson, who taught his sons well; that Luther plays a mean blues spew, while brother Cody just smiles at him from behind the drum kit. Their Tone Cool debut Shake Hands With Shorty finds the trio "Drinking Muddy Water" "All Night Long." (Continental Club, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

EX-HUSBANDS: Everything Nashville-based music isn't supposed to be anymore -- visceral, dangerous, roadside fresh -- the Ex-Husbands are in spades. Saving room at the table for Merle Haggard and Black Sabbath, this fearsome foursome comes off tougher than boot leather and more ornery than Granny after someone hid her teeth. (Opal Divine, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

DRAGONS: The Escovedo showcase at SXSW 97, a rock & roll showdown featuring the guitar gangs of Alejandro, Javier, and Mario, was a gritty and glamorous convergence for true believers. The baby, Mario, fronting the L.A.-based Dragons, may well have upstaged both of his cynically seasoned hermanos, his enthusiastic quartet chasing down old-school punk and stomping it happily. (Red Eyed Fly, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE LOVE SUPREME: Ambition is a glorious thing, and Austin's Love Supreme has it by the buckets -- not in a drab, pedantic way, but in a glamorously posh rock star way. They aren't signed, but pretend like they are and have already penned hit songs in "Flawless" and "Blue Skies." With the proper machinery they'll be terrifying. (Buffalo Club, 1am) -- Mindy LaBernz

TWO DOLLAR GUITAR: Two Dollar Guitar's marquee value probably comes from drummer Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), but the dominant force in the band is that of Tim Foljahn. His fixation with the sewer of pop culture conjures up impressions of Jim White via Nick Cave. The outfit's current outing, Weak Beats and Lame-Ass Rhymes (Smells Like Records) also features guest appearances by fringe figureheads like Carla Bozulich and Nels Cline. (Ritz Lounge, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

MONTE WARDEN: Across town, some now-forgotten big show had left Monte Warden with a Stubb's crowd commensurate to the number of country music fans who clued into the local star's grievously underappreciated Asylum debut, A Stranger to Me Now. Undaunted, Warden ripped into a 60-minute set that reiterated that Buddy Holly was from Lubbock and that Elvis Presley will always be king. Charisma and natural ability like Warden's are as rare as the look in his eye that night. (Broken Spoke, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

JOHNNY DOWD: Making his third consecutive SXSW appearance, deliciously disturbing Johnny Dowd is currently sharing the bill across the land with the Mekons. His first album, the stark and powerful Wrong Side of Memphis, was released first on Checkered Past, then picked up by the wise folks at Koch, who picked up the brutally honest singer-songwriter and put out his equally distinguished Pictures of Life's Other Side. Rock & roll is his religion, and you'll soon want to be baptized. (Ritz Lounge, 1am) -- David Lynch

THE MEKONS: Of all the punks to emerge out of England in the Seventies, who would have figured the Mekons to be one of the few survivors? Of course with Jon Langford moonlighting as the Bloodshot kingpin, it's hard to think of the Mekons as a punk band anymore. The Langford-fronted Leeds outfit is into its third decade of making music, with its umpteenth album, Journey to the End of the Night (Quarterstick), already reaping copious praise. (Antone's, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

PAPAS FRITAS: Just like those red-cartoned McPotato staples of the global economy, this Beantown combo's charming brand of geek-rock is irresistibly addictive. Singer/drummer Shivika has more than roles in common with Yo La's Georgia Hubley, and the band's pop history smarts bounce from Ray Davies to Fleetwood Mac, and Astraud Gilerto to the Cowsills and Donna Summer and back again. Super-size it, baby! (Waterloo Brewing Co., 1am) -- Kate X Messer

BERNIE WORRELL & THE WOO WARRIORS: For P-Funk fans, this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's recent shows with his Woo Warriers have been even better than George Clinton's revue-style shows. Both Worrell's latest live disc and the gigs themselves are straight-up, non-stop P-Funk fests, and while it's unlikely Jerry Harrison will drop by to perform "Burning Down The House" like he did at Worrell's last Antone's stand, watching Worrell reclaim his piece of the Talking Heads classic is worth a slot on your schedule anyway. (Top of the Marc, 1am) -- Andy Langer

DOUG E. FRESH: Might need a shoehorn to squeeze into this one. Predating even Def Jam crossover kings Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, "Original Human Beatbox" Doug E. Fresh lifted an Inspector Gadget sample and crafted "The Show," which not only introduced the world to the lubricated cadences of one Slick Ricky Walters, but gave millions of non-urban-dwellers their first taste of this strange new science called hip-hop. We all know what happened next. (Stubb's, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

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