SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings

Saturday Picks


THE DISCO BISCUITS: Making their music industry debut on the SXSW Outdoor Stage, Easton, Pennsylvania's Disco Biscuits are almost as colorful as their hometown's claim to fame: Crayola. Colorful as in what you see when your drink gets spiked. Their new Megaforce CD, They Missed the Perfume, freaks like Jerry Garcia gone electronica, and with two rock operas under their belt and a penchant for reinterpreting classical music, the jam band landscape just went technocolor. (Outdoor Stage, TBA) -- Raoul Hernandez

SALLY TIMMS: Chicago songbird Sally Timms is really a British expat and member of the Mekons. Her country sensibilities helped steer the Mekons in that direction in the Eighties; Bloodshot discovered her irreverent honky-tonk on Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos. Not surprisingly, her literate mix of country and attitude fits nicely into the label's catalog. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 8pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

HIP HOP MECCA PRESENTS: To the hip-hop ya don't stop. This one starts early -- literally - with Westlake high schooler Arson Optics grabbing the mike, as Nova Scotia's Buck 65, Project Blowed's Erule, Strong Island's IGT, and the raw stylings of Denver's Ngoma try to show the youngster how it's done. Then Loud Records takes over and presents for your psycho pleasure Queens' lewd Beatnuts, bound to let loose a few from their new LP Take It or Squeeze It, before NYC's jaw-dropping 4-DJ tandem the X-ecutioners and some potentially inebriated "special guests" take you on and on 'til the break of dawn. (Back Room, 8pm-1am) -- Christopher Gray

DANISH SHOWCASE: There's a lot more to Denmark than pastries and Legos. This showcase, presented by the Danish Rock Council and the Roskilde Festival, drives that point home with five Copenhagen bands whose sounds sprawl all over the proverbial board. Wynona starts out nice and easy with faraway twang and heartfelt vocals reminiscent of the Cowboy Junkies. Sony Denmark's Kashmir is up next with friendly but slightly melancholy pop that recalls Counting Crows more than Zeppelin. The retro-waveisms and telegraphic lyrics of Speaker Bite Me steers the mood in a more angular direction, while the traditional garage-punk crunch of the Burnouts is perfectly timed for when the three-beer buzz takes hold. Closing the show is Bjørn Svin, a breakneck trance artist whose super-sleek jams are built to last well into the night. (The Drink on 6th, 9pm-1am) -- Greg Beets

SXSW SPOKEN WORD: The annual festival-within-a-festival has narrowed down to a single night, but still remains one of the top tickets for performance poets across North America, and this year's lineup crams a staggering amount of talent into a single five-hour show. Among the best-known names are a pair of New Yorkers: Beau Sia, who took a slice of his 15 minutes in a hilarious send-up of Jewel's A Night Without Armor, and Saul Williams, one of the stars of the documentary SlamNation and feature film Slam. Speaking of scripted formslams, national champions and finalists from throughout the movement's history will represent their respective cities and schools of thought, ranging from the lyricism and emotive power of wordsmiths like New York's Noel Jones and Albuquerque's Danny Solis to the antics of such modern harlequins as Seattle's Big Poppa E and Chicago's Shappy. Texas is represented by Dallas poet Tara Sheth, the Ordained in Lyrics ensemble, and the 2000 San Antonio team, who missed out on top honors in last year's nationals by a tenth of a point. (Empanada Parlour, 9pm-1:20am) -- Phil West

EMINENT RECORDS SHOWCASE: Eminent Records is a Nashville-based label started by Emmylou Harris. It's now run by Steve Wilkeson, formerly of local Dejadisc. Wilkeson's love for singer-songwriters that skew Americana continues, as amply proven here. Eric Taylor, Kate Campbell, Greg Trooper, Heather Eatman, and Rosie Flores all possess high-quality songwriting talents, while each also demonstrates a level of craftsmanship that places them above other artists working similar musical territory. (The Hideout, 9pm-1am) -- Jim Caligiuri

MARK EITZEL: The brooding voice behind the American Music Club, the Bay Area's Mark Eitzel is perfectly suited to the cult following he inspires thanks to his darkly poetic compositions. Drawing inspiration from scorned religiosity as well as the bottle flu, Eitzel will no doubt debut material from his upcoming Matador release. (Austin Music Hall, 9pm) -- David Lynch

JOHNNY DOWD: Texas-born Dowd has lived in upstate New York for a few decades, but his Lone Star drawl is intact on his stark 1997 debut, Wrong Side of Memphis. While not as convincing as his debut, his last two albums on Koch, including the recently released Temporary Shelter, show a talented, if troubled, artist like no other. A true high priest of avant-country noir. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm) -- David Lynch

JERRY DOUGLAS: The finest dobro player of our time, Nashville's Jerry Douglas has won six Grammys and been named Dobro Player of the Year six times by the International Bluegrass Music Association. He most recently toured with Alison Krauss and will enter the studio soon to record a solo project for Sugar Hill Records. (Broken Spoke, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

RADNEY FOSTER: Foster's third solo record, See What You Want to See, was a surprisingly poppish collection of about a dozen gems -- surprising because he's had his songs recorded by big country artists like the Dixie Chicks and Collin Raye. Despite that, Foster himself is now more firmly ensconced in the AAA landscape. A two-night stint at the Continental Club late last year is set to become a live album. (Texas Union Theater, 9pm) -- Michael Bertin

IAN MOORE: After racking up strong reviews for last year's superbly written, pop-oriented And All the Colors…, Moore's been busy bouncing between Austin and his new Washington home planning the June release of a live record and video capturing recent gigs here and in Houston. (Stubb's, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

MARCIA BALL: Marcia Ball fans have a treat in store, as the leggy local First Lady of the Ivories has a new album coming out on Alligator Records. That means a bunch of new, piano-pumping tunes from the popular Austin performer, who sings clutch-the-beer-bottle-tight weepers as well as she can yodel, and will likely do both. (Antone's, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

PAT MACDONALD: The glorious exile of Barcelona inspired Austinite Pat MacDonald to create Begging Her Graces, his second solo album. Full of the artistry that made his debut such a wonderful surprise and his former outfit Timbuk 3 the fan favorite and commercial resistor it was, MacDonald's new material should earn him a place among the top ranks of Austin songwriters once and for all. (Cactus Cafe, 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

The Butchies
The Butchies

THE SWELLS: The Swells radiate inspired pieces of moody pop, drenched in a creamy liqueur finish. Last year's elegant Yesterday's Songs brought a bevy of local listeners their sugary fix of dreamy melodies, carved out in a faraway place where the Pale Saints come marching in. (Ruta Maya, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

ARLO: If you've ever thought you might like the sound of Tom Petty doing bong hits in a van with Fu Manchu, have I got the band for you. L.A.'s Arlo come off a bit hazy, but never shady on their Sub Pop CD Up High In the Night, a foot-tapping hodgepodge of classic-rock hooks and not-quite-falsetto (but still pretty durn high-pitched) pop vocals. (Emo's, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

CREEPER LAGOON: Two years after signing to DreamWorks, this S.F. fourpiece is primed to break the big time with the upcoming Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday. On the heels of their breakout, I Become Small and Go, they continue finding new ways to deliver rock long on hooks and longer still on ingenious subtleties that separate the men from the boys. (Buffalo Billiards, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

SANGRE DE TORO: As guitarist for Scratch Acid, Brett Bradford helped set the bar for jagged post-punk attack noise. With their majestic 1998 album, Hold Yer Breath, Sangre de Toro continued this campaign with a prolific, ear-splitting war on the senses. If we're lucky, former Big Boy Randy "Biscuit" Turner might drop in on the power trio. (Buffalo Club, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

LIFT TO EXPERIENCE: Heavy and visceral yet angelic and inspirational, this Denton trio sealed their deal with U.K.'s Bella Union at SXSW 2000, Cocteau Twins/label heads Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde being wowed into approval. A whirling maelstrom of sound explodes from Josh Pearson's cowskull-adorned Leslie amp as his spiritually charged vocals play off the pounding cacophony of the rhythm section. Their upcoming double-album debut: The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. 'Nuff said. (Ritz Lounge, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

LORD DOUGLAS PHILLIPS: Austin's Lord Douglas Phillips is a superstar local band, since Terri Lord, Darcee Douglas, and Gretchen Phillips all have long musical pedigrees. Their contribution to last year's Dusty Springfield tribute Forever Dusty, "Yesterday When I Was Young," made the song's sweetness never more poignant. Of course any one of the three can kick righteous ass, so expect to do a little levitating. (Rainbow Cattle Co., 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

PALAXY TRACKS: Palaxy Tracks have marked SXSW as their final show as an Austin band. They're heading to Chicago, toting with them last year's The Long Wind Down, a hook-laden winner adorned with Brandon Durham's Bedhead-y vocals and an invigorating sonic nuance. This town will truly be losing one of its finest bands. (Ruta Maya, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

CHUCK PROPHET: Chuck Prophet's 2000 release, The Hurting Business, was a stunning collection of songs veering from joyous pop to haunting ballads to sultry soul. His live performances have always been where he's excelled, however, as his electro-folk takes on new dimensions and his dynamic melodies really shine. (Cactus Cafe, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JIM WHITE: This Florida resident is a twisted and melodic artist who blends Hal Hartley-like characters and honky-trip-folky rhythms with studio savvy, as on his 1997 debut Wrong Eyed Jesus. His new Luaka Bop effort, No Such Place, features members of Morcheeba, Sweetback co-founder Andrew Hale, and a tune called "God Was Drunk When He Made Me." (La Zona Rosa, 10pm) -- David Lynch

M WARD: Giant Sand's Howe Gelb immediately signed Ward to his Ow Om label upon hearing last year's Duet for Guitars #2, a remarkably spare slice of ghost-town Americana inspired in part by experimental folk hero John Fahey, who passed away last month. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

THE DAMNATIONS TX: Austin's Damnations TX have won hearts far and wide with upbeat, straight-from-the-heart, amplified folk blues. Led by sisters Deborah Kelly and Amy Boone, with the guitar and banjo talents of Rob Bernard, this outfit consistently writes and performs songs simultaneously unique and familiar. Their Sire debut, Half Mad Moon, almost captures their kinetic live energy. (Stubb's, 10pm) -- David Lynch

DELBERT MCCLINTON: Riding high on a hot new album, Nothing Personal, Nashville-based McClinton is likely to highlight his new originals. Love the barroom classics and honky-tonk favorites? Not to worry; he always peppers his set with them, but new songs or old, he'll spice up the evening with his soulful pipes and bad-ass harp. (Antone's, 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

THE BLACKS: Blending influences as diverse as Hank Williams, punk, and Tom Waits, Chicago's Blacks are known for their stimulating and bawdy live shows. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, finger in the electrical socket, three-part harmonies melt with standup-bass rhythms, trashy drums, and gutbucket strings to make wholly original and naughty moonshine bluegrass. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 10pm) -- David Lynch

JIM LAUDERDALE: Lauderdale is a songwriter's songwriter. He's crafted hits for the likes of Vince Gill, George Strait, Patty Loveless, and Mark Chesnutt, but as a performer, has respect to burn from his peers. Recently he's dabbled with bluegrass roots music, pairing up with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. (Texas Union Theater, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

RODNEY CROWELL: Houston's favorite musical son Rodney Crowell had key roles in both the early-Eighties New Traditionalist movement and Emmylou Harris' fertile mid-Seventies band. Sonic soulmates with Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Crowell has penned hits for the Oak Ridge Boys, Crystal Gayle, Bob Seger, and Highway 101, and has just reignited his solo career on Sugar Hill's The Houston Kid. (Broken Spoke, 10pm) -- David Lynch

JIMMY LAFAVE: Born east of Dallas and raised in Oklahoma, Jimmy LaFave played in Tulsa early on, drawing on the best from the region: Chet Baker, J.J. Cale, Leon Russell, and Woody Guthrie. Nowadays, the Austinite writes and sings original, sometimes mournful folk with rock leanings, as on Texoma, his latest on Bohemia Beat. (Cactus Cafe, 11pm) -- David Lynch

Brown Whörnet
Brown Whörnet

GILLIAN WELCH & DAVID RAWLINGS: The gorgeous, eerie Appalachian melodies given narcotic flight by the striking voice of Gillian Welch earned the Nashville singer-songwriter universal praise for her second release, Hell Among the Yearlings. She brings her hillbilly melancholy to SXSW alongside longtime partner and multi-instrumentalist David Rawlings. (Texas Union Theater, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

SONNY LANDRETH: Southwest Louisiana's Sonny Landreth plays a unique brand of modern electric Cajun blues, often punctuated with slide guitar and Dobro. Landreth is understandably big with musicians, but his music is anything but wanky. In 1995, he put on the distinguished and influential South of I-10, and has since released Levee Town on Sugar Hill. (Broken Spoke, 11pm) -- David Lynch

JEB LOY NICHOLS: Jeb Loy Nichols has just released his Rykodisc debut, Just What Time It Is. On it, the American-born, London-based singer-songwriter shows a more soulful side than he has on previous efforts, as he melds a Stax/Volt sound with tricky rhythms into a groove that's smooth and seductive. (Lucy's, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

BOB SCHNEIDER: In case you somehow missed him last SXSW (how?), Schneider successfully made the transition from soft-core porn white-funk bandleader to sensitive singer-songwriter, and more deftly than almost anyone could have anticipated. After sneaking Lonelyland out at the very end of 1999, the record spent much of 2000 atop Waterloo Records' list of Top 10 Texas sellers, and will see re-release via Universal this month. (Antone's, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

DAVID BYRNE: David Byrne founded eclectic international label Luaka Bop, composed the score for Twyla Tharp's Broadway rendition of The Catherine Wheel and Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob, and collaborated with the likes of Brian Eno and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Oh, he also sang for the Talking Heads. Whatever he has planned for SXSW, it certainly won't be boring. (La Zona Rosa, 11pm) -- David Lynch

CHAINSAW KITTENS: Norman, Oklahoma, produces the occasional blip on the rock radar screen, yet it's still no mecca for drag queens. Except, of course, for the sometimes-fey, sometimes-fierce Tyson Meade, who fronts Norman's woefully underrated, über-rocking Chainsaw Kittens. Their latest, All-American Chainsaw Kittens, updates the 10-year saga of a band deserving more. (Hole in the Wall, 11pm) -- Phil West

WHITE STRIPES: Recently picked as one of Rolling Stone's Next Big Things of 2001, this Detroit-based brother/sister guitar-drums duo has plenty of major-label buzz from their new De Still, a spunky cross of pop and blooze that's part Jon Spencer, part Jonathan Richman. (Room 710, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

THE TOADIES: Gee, think this one will be crowded? After more years than they'd care for us to count cooling their heels in Dallas/Ft. Worth, the Toadies' Hell Below/Stars Above finally hits stores next week. The good news is that it picks up just where their platinum debut left off -- sporting huge hooks, catchy choruses, no filler, and frontman Todd Lewis' unforgettable growl. There is no bad news. (Stubb's, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

NEBULA: More Monster Magnet than their debut, Nebula's second Sub Pop album Charged polarizes its galloping (sometimes acoustic) guitars and beating toms with just enough acid rock to make most mustache metal wilt. Due in April, Charged is a live wire, ungrounded and looking for an open socket. While standing in a puddle. (Emo's, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

WACO BROS: It just wouldn't be SXSW without the unruly antics of Chicago's foremost wasted swing band, the Waco Bros. Led by everyone's favorite Mekon, Mr. Jonboy Langford, this international "collective" of cacophonous country blazes a path of destruction every year from its official Bloodshot showcase to its myriad unofficial appearances, leaving smiles and hangovers lingering long after the streets have been swept. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

MOGWAI: Finally, SXSW presents us with a band that seems really important. If these five young Scots don't start a musical revolution with Rock Action, due April 24 on Matador, it won't be for lack of effort. After 1999's bewitching Come on Die Young, the new one is a friendlier affair, with lead man Stuart Braithwaite stepping up to the mike with greater frequency. Expect orchestral grandeur and enthralling bursts of noise, of both the uplifting and intensely spasmodic varieties. (Austin Music Hall, 11:30pm) -- Michael Chamy

ELIZA GILKYSON: The daughter of legendary folk singer Terry Gilkyson, Eliza currently calls Austin home. Herself a distinguished singer-songwriter, she recently released Hard Times in Babylon on Red House Records. It finds her avoiding stylistic categories, mixing folk with pop, and memorable melodies with deeply personal lyrics. (Cactus Cafe, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD: Hands-down the hottest liquor-fueled bluegrass band around, Split Lip Rayfield comes from the corn fields of Kansas. Recording for Chicago's Bloodshot, Split Lip's In the Mud was one of the finest albums of '99, bluegrass or otherwise. Devilishly driven by a one-string bass made from the gas tank of a 1965 Ford, the quartet just released Never Make It Home. (Waterloo Brewing Co., midnight) -- David Lynch

THE GOURDS: With their Sugar Hill debut, Bolsa de Agua, and the reissue of their back catalog, Austin's rootsy-funky-folky-quirky Gourds keep right on rolling along. As part of the Munich Records showcase, their hayseed smarts and back-porch rhythms will be right at home in the Broken Spoke's sawdust ambience. (Broken Spoke, midnight) -- Margaret Moser

The Toadies
The Toadies

BELLRAYS: Color me impressed. L.A.'s Bellrays came out screaming on last year's Grand Fury, a white-hot swath of righteous anger and pummeling punk. Vocalist Lisa Kekaula is a little bit Tina Turner, a little bit Johnny Rotten, and a whole lotta searing soul-sister attitude. (Room 710, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

SYRUP: Don't let the cowboy hats fool you, Tallahassee's Syrup aren't -- they're alt.rock. As in they rock twice as hard as most rock groups who claim to rock. Think the Supersuckers with Southern-fried twang, not pasties. Yee-fucking-haw!!! (Hole in the Wall, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

SUPERSUCKERS: Gone are the days when their guitarist was credited on LPs as "Dan Bolton, age 23," but the Supersuckers are still very much alive. Whether they take on punk, funk, or country, they're one of the highest-octane bands on the planet, going 0 to 60 in three and a half notes. (Stubb's, midnight) -- Phil West

VALLEJO: First Austin, then the world: That's the battle cry behind Into the New, Vallejo's first set for Emilio Estefan's Crescent Moon. Transforming one of Austin's most popular live acts into an international radio phenomenon has been an understandably slow effort, but that a second single due to hit airwaves next month seems promising. (The Metro, midnight) -- Andy Langer

ERIC JOHNSON & ALIEN LOVE CHILD: Austin's favorite guitar phenom occasionally comes out of hiding to string together a few gigs with his blues-based outfit, Alien Love Child. These shows have a different feel than Johnson's more out-there solo projects, his dazzling technique will be in full effect this night, complemented by drummer Roscoe Beck and bassist Chris Maresh. (Antone's, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS: For now, it's over -- Pavement has broken up, and leader Stephen Malkmus indicates no plans for the band to get back together. For their extremely loyal and fervent fan base, this would be terrible news, except that his solo debut is essentially this year's Pavement album, and his new supporting cast has ample indie credentials. (Austin Music Hall, 12:45am) -- Phil West

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO: Alejandro Escovedo is like a musical shark, always moving and changing direction. The singer/guitarist has played in and/or fronted punk, country rock, glam, cowpunk, and just damn good rock bands. He's been releasing more textured solo albums of late, including the upcoming Man Under the Influence for Bloodshot. When he wants to, Escovedo also puts on a butt-kicking live show. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 1am) -- David Lynch

PUSHMONKEY: How cool is this: Pushmonkey's "Caught My Mind" video was on HBO's The Sopranos last year, while their song "Maybe" was used in the PlayStation game Roadrash Jailbreak. Austin's heavy rock quintet has also walked away with an armload of local awards over the years for their no-holds-barred metal and currently maintain a rigorous touring schedule with rumors floating madly about a new CD in the works. (The Metro, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

THE BUTCHIES: We're sorry; we promised that we wouldn't let sexuality get in the way of telling you about these three hot strapping lasses from North Carolina. But they're soooooo fine! Omigod! They're the dyke 'N Sync if 'N Sync were good songwriters (ex-Team Dresher Kaia Wilson could "Bye, Bye, Bye" their white-boy butts), ripping musicians (no marionette strings here!), not to mention their own men. (Rainbow Cattle Co., 1am) -- Kate X Messer

DANNY & THE NIGHTMARES: After being certified a Grade A legendary songwriter and pushing 40, what's your next move? If you're Daniel Johnston, you get a bunch of neighborhood teens together and start a hardcore punk band. Not much more to be said, except that they do a mean version of the Butthole Surfers' "Human Cannonball." (Red Eyed Fly, 1am) -- Ken Lieck

BOB LOG III: Somewhere between one-man band and one-man ruckus, Log has been on the solo circuit since his glory days with Doo Rag. Although he was the slide guitar and vocal half, not the vacuum-cleaner percussion half, there's still a lot of chaotic clunk in his sound. (Room 710, 1am) -- Phil West

FRIENDS OF DEAN MARTINEZ: The phantasmagoric instrumental miasma that has become the formerly Santo & Johnny sounds of Austin's FODM came to a head last year when steel player Bill Elm composed an original score to the silent German expressionist masterpiece, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Turning the main theme into the heart of 2000's blinding A Place in the Sun, the FODM were subsequently backstabbed by their Knitting Factory label, which hasn't stopped them from working on new sounds to sleepwalk by. (Speakeasy, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

MICE PARADE: And on the inside track, running for Bubble Core Records and coming up fast on both the Tortoise and the hare, is Port Chester, NY's Mice Parade. High in the saddle is Dylan Group's Adam Pierce, whippin' those whiskered beasties with saxophones, and synthesizers, drums and guitars, and making their little feeties dance on the vibes like someone let 'em loose in the crystal & china department at Macy's. (Copper Tank, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

BROWN WHÖRNET: Jazz, punk, pop, and noise all figure into Brown Whörnet's equation, where songs hit head on like collisions, while somehow cohering into a planned, precise arrangement. Good luck classifying or marketing it, but if you haven't seen them, see them. (Buffalo Club, 1am) -- Phil West

BLACK HALOS: Though Vancouver's Black Halos didn't reinvent the wheel, they'll still run you down with malice under the influence of sneering, decadent punk rock circa CBGB. Vocalist Billy Hopeless throws himself about the stage with Iggy-style abandon, pausing only to feign shooting up or strangulation with the microphone cord. Their sophomore album, The Violent Years (Sub Pop), reinforces all the bad lessons learned on last year's excellent Die Young, Stay Pretty. (Emo's Jr., 1am) -- Greg Beets

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