SXSW Picks & Sleepers


SWITCHHITTER: This jaw-droppingly jagged endeavor out of Austin combines the roar of Big Black with the psychotic energy of the Birthday Party. Guitarist David Uskovich (Distorted Pony, Sweet Pea) leads Switchhitter on a scorched-earth mission that rivals Sherman in aural intensity. Now playing under the Perverted Son Records' umbrella, the group's last LP, Academy, came out in 1999 on Framed. (Elysium, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

BLUE NOISE BAND: This avant-jazz concern is dogged in its pursuit of divergent inspiration. BNB's second release, 2001's Brad Green From Queens (Chocolate/Southern Love), found the Austin quartet riffing on everything from klezmer to B-movie scores. Their quick-change skronk makes them a pre-eminent force in the local underground. (Ritz Lounge, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

THE OLIVE GROUP Fitting their showcase is at the Rehab Lounge, because Austin's Olive Group is in recovery from the most catastrophic of events: a Black September house fire that destroyed most of the band's equipment and unreleased recordings. They're still in rebuilding mode, but the Sea-and-Cake-goes-emo sound of their fine 2000 Post-Parlo EP provides a rock-solid foundation. (Rehab Lounge, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

DOE MONTOYA: Having proved her vocal prowess in stints with the Diamond Smugglers, duets with Hickoids guitarist Davy Jones, and her own band, the unfortunately named Doe-Nuts, Montoya currently fronts the feverish act Go Juice. Still and all, it's her solo performances that best show off her innate sparkle. (Ruta Maya, 9pm) -- Ken Lieck

THE REAL HEROES: It's not just the brief bit of "Shock Me" on The Real Heroes debut betraying this Austin quartet as members of the Kiss Army. It's their muscled quirk rock, equal parts Bay City Rollers and Detroit Pop City. They hit it right in the grease-painted nose. (Hole in the Wall, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

BROBDINGNAGIAN BARDS: Among the most whimsical acts of SXSW 2002, the Austin-based Bards are masters of traditional folk. Like a Celt-Renaissance They Might Be Giants, albums like Marked by Great Size and their latest, A Faire to Remember are equal parts lilting melodies and good humor. Their song "Tolkien" is an unexpected MP3 hit. (B.D. Riley's, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

GIRL ROBOTS: Surfing the ether of fairy tales and faraway jangle, the Girl Robots are Austin's answer to the iconoclastic, avant-punk weirdness of groups like the Red Krayola and Bongwater. Though the quartet has been around for years, 2001's Fractured Fairy Tales was their full-length CD debut. Be sure to request "These Are the Last Days of Dog Vomit and the Shithead Gang on Earth." (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

AUDIO EXPLORATIONS: North Floridian duo James Tritten and Steven Haley's new sophomore CD, ActionReaction, out on North Carolina's Eskimo Kiss, is chimey and chirpy, in that hard-driving early Cure way. One minute they're drubbingly langorous, like a mean, lazy beating, the next, very American and Analog, if you know what we mean. (Rehab Lounge, 10pm) -- Kate X Messer

TIGER SAW: Newburyport, Mass.' Tiger Saw reaches for places in the heart and mind that most would prefer stayed closed off and covered in dust. Last year's Blessed is an exercise in introspection that yields both bleakness and riches, heartache and joy. Cello, viola, and the occasional horns create a lush atmosphere in the face of musical desolation -- like Damon & Naomi sitting in with the Red House Painters. (The Drink on 6th, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

DOUBLE O-GO-GO: Byron Scott's been a fixture on the Austin music scene for a couple of decades now with bands like Do Dat, and his current venture Double O-Go-Go finds him headed in an instrumental direction, making the kind of music spies like. If you feel like grooving to a mix of popular and obscure musical treats from the Bond/Avengers/Peter Gunn world of danger and dancing, point your guns in Double O-Go-Go's direction. (Opal Divine's, 10pm) -- Ken Lieck

JOAQUÍN DÍAZ: Master of the diatonic and chromatic accordion, Díaz started playing professionally at 12. Captivating crowds by playing the accordion behind his head, Diaz is a merengue master, an energetic dance music from his homeland of the Dominican Republic. Currently a Montreal citizen, Díaz's merengue is not unlike fast zydeco with Cuban percussion as on his second album, OLA, on MMM Records. (Momo's, 10:15pm) -- David Lynch

GRUPO BATACHA: A longtime favorite on Houston's robust salsa scene, Grupo Batacha has residency status at a couple of high-profile South American restaurants in the area, attracting hordes of sassy skirts and blooming bootys. (Empanada Parlour, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

KAREN POSTON & THE CRYSTAL PISTOLS: Last year was a breakout year for local songwriter/country chanteuse Karen Poston. Her debut, Real Bad, turned plenty a honky-tonker's head for its whipsmart attitude and spirited sound. (Pecan St. Ale House, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JESSE TAYLOR & JOHN X. REED: Both Taylor and Reed have impeccable credentials with Texas bands from Joe Ely to Doug Sahm. Both play like card sharks with their lives on the betting line. Nothing like a couple of wicked Lubbock guitarists to whip up some tornado licks. Or a little trouble. (Antone's, 11pm) -- Margaret Moser

THE KILLDARES: Dallasites love this band so much, if there were a category for Best Rock Band in the World, the Killdares would sweep the Metroplex. Last year's indie release, A Place to Stand, blends old-timey Celtic fiddle with all-American electric guitar. This is the group's SXSW debut, having graduated from playing non-festival St. Paddy's day gigs over the past few years. (BD Riley's, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

HOUSEHOLD NAMES: Though Kinks-flavored Brit-pop isn't the first genre that comes to mind when you think of Austin, Household Names has carved out a niche with charming, catchy tunes. Founded as a solo living room project by songwriter Jason Garcia, Household Names recorded 2000's The Trouble With Being Nice with producer Lars Goransson (The Cardigans). The project has since morphed into a full band with a crack live presence. (Chile Pepper, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

CINDERS: As at home in a library as in a sweaty punk club, this piano-and-strings Austin trio plays a rich brand of improvised chamber music; they're soothing, pleasant, and stimulating all at once. Best enjoyed with a fine red wine of your choice. (Ritz Lounge, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

PIEBALD: By introducing good-humored levity into the world of emo-core, Piebald balances out the morose recounting of liberal guilt and indecision endemic in the genre. The Somerville, Mass.-based quartet's latest album, We Are the Only Friends We Have (Big Wheel Recreation), features such wit-laden titles as, "Sex Sells and (Unfortunately) I'm Buying" along with the funniest sleeve art in recent memory. (Emo's Jr., 11pm) -- Greg Beets

ROBOTS, PLEASE!: Austin's Robots, Please! revel in a futuristic collage of New Wave blips and bleeps atop a warm layer of fuzzed-out guitars that would sound perfect in a space-station singles bar. Their 2000 debut Left Hand Turn captured the band's oddly invigorating mixture of sterility and mechanics in several easy-to-swallow two-minute bursts. Robots, Please! will be going to Chicago to record their sophomore disc in April. (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

MICHAEL HOLLAND: At that bewildering intersection of Southern blues, gospel, and indie rock, Michael Holland stands with all roads open to him. Formerly the brains and the voice -- not to mention the guitar, and what a guitar -- behind Chapel Hill rock outfit Jennyanykind, Holland's embarked on his own to pursue his lub-a-da-dub. An earnest, passionate live performer, Holland pleases in any format. (Antone's, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

STINKY DEL NEGRO: Former Solid Gold 40 guitarist Stinky Del Negro has a penchant for prurience that's one part Blowfly, one part Howard Stern, and just a pinch of Frank Zappa. Last year's The Soft Favorites skillfully showcased Del Negro's wide range of tasteless tunery. (Opal Divine's, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN: However you interpret this local power trio's name, the results are jagged, stripped-down melodic pop/punk with a melancholy undercurrent. The Road to Nowhere Maps EP on Austin's Has Anyone Ever Told You? label finds DDT on the pleasant side of jagged emo rock, not unlike fellow San Diego boys No Knife. (Maggie Mae's, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

RECOVER: Recover could be the most popular Austin band you've never heard of. That they're a hardcore-leaning punk band and that you're over 17 may be partially to blame, as is the fact that they're often on the road. This SXSW date follows a month of dates with Bad Religion, Less Than Jake, and Hot Water Music. (Emo's Jr., midnight) -- Andy Langer

SEXY FINGER CHAMPS: Punk's dead? Not here in Austin By-God, Texas; not if the Sexy Finger Champs have anything to say about it. What the hell else would you call a group of functional, employed adults taking to the stage in boas, diapers, and guitars, bass, and drums, spewing three- and four-chord wonders about "A Boy Named Paul" and girls who are "Too Young to Date"? (Opal Divine's, midnight) -- Kate X Messer

MIGAS: They're supposedly a threepiece now, but in the past all they've needed is two angry folks to trudge through slabs of metallic carnage that cuts through your system rougher than the salsa-egg breakfast they're named after. Jason Morales of former Trance Syndicate group Starfish fronts this circus of power. (Elysium, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

DOLOMITES: Where's the most likely place you'll rip your Sunday pants? According to the Dolomites, "at the bar." Where can you get a snack prepared by a band while it's onstage? Apparently, at a Dolomites show. But a band like this is not to be trusted. It's more likely that, rather than serving you onion rings with a smile, this Portland, Ore., fivepiece that wears its Pogues and Tom Waits influences on its sleeve will punch you in the nose, grab your girlfriend's ass, and finish off your beer instead. Their latest effort, The Medicine Show, is self-released. (BD Riley's, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

EGON: Graduates of the El Paso school of indie rock along with At the Drive-In and Rhythm of Black Lines, Egon is neither as busy nor as speedy as either of those groups. They do manage to luxuriously snake in lots of intertwining melodies and mathy time signatures on their Behind the Curtain on Austin's Has Anyone Ever Told You? Records. (Maggie Mae's, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

HOBBLE: Austin's Hobble has built a reputation as one of the wildest, most visually stunning Big Dumb Rock acts in town. Super-charismatic vocalist Oriah Lonsdale climbs and whirls about the stage like a violently drunken acrobat while screaming lyrics about killing people during the day and getting spanked for jollies at night. The quartet's 2000 release, Blackmassking (Action Rock), is a perfect combination of punk rage, coliseum rock bombast, and sticky peep show-floor perversion. (Hickory St. Bar and Grill, 1am) -- Greg Beets

RON FLYNT: The other half of 20/20 (see Steve Allen) moved to Austin to find a home where his music would be appreciated, and he certainly found one. He peppers his performances with hits by his old band, like "XXX" and the seminal "Yellow Pills," then thrills listeners with his talents as a songwriter. (Chile Pepper, 1am) -- Ken Lieck

ALBERT & GAGE: Half Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme (the non-sappy part) and half Richard and Linda Thompson (before the split), Christine Albert and Chris Gage are as entertaining in performance as their music. Their tuneful 2001 CD, Burnin' Moonlight, was a hidden treasure among Austin's multitudinous recorded offerings. The couple's sense of whimsy is strong, but never dilutes the lovely and sometimes plaintive quality of their songwriting. (Pecan St. Alehouse, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

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