SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Friday Sleepers

All showcase times subject to change. Please check

Secretly Canadian/ Sounds Familyre

8pm-2am, Buffalo Billiards
If you like your indie pop skewed and scrambled, the Secretly Canadian/ Sounds Familyre showcase is a treasure trove. Chicago septet Manishevitz, with their fourth disc City Life (on the SC-distributed JagJaguar), brims with lush instrumentation and warm sonic whimsy. Dayton, Ohio, two-man band Swearing at Motorists fetch wadded-up confessionals out of the trash can and turn them into droll, post-punk salves for the broken-hearted. Similar in sparseness, Scout Niblett's heartfelt missives often feature nothing more than drums for accompaniment. The Nottingham, England-based singer-songwriter conjures Cat Power on her third CD, I Am. As leader of New Jersey-based Christian avant-popsters the Danielson Famile, Br. Danielson helps fuse the good news to a rarefied musical collage that recalls both the Red Krayola's free-form freak-outs and Joe Raposo's Sesame Street songs. Michigan songwriter Sufjan Stevens delivered a melancholy mash note to his home state with last year's Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lake State (Asthmatic Kitty). Finally, Bloomington, Ind.'s the Impossible Shapes ply cottage psychedelia with echoes of Syd Barrett on the quartet's fourth LP, We Like It Wild. – Greg Beets

Amsterdam Calling

8pm-2am, Friends
The Dutch Rock & Pop Institute's showcase begins in the Hague with Venus Flytrap, a quartet parlaying its indie rock foundation into sprawling, guitar-based soundscapes custom-built for genuflection on 2003 sophomore release, Hoovering. Amsterdam's Alamo Race Track mines a sharper, more nervous sound on its debut, Birds at Home (Excelsior). If you had any doubts about California pop-punk resonating beyond our shores, heideroosjes puts them to rest. Amsterdam organ-drum duo zZz realizes economy, novelty, and cool with their imaginary collaboration between Ray Manzarek and Ian Curtis. Longtime Dutch indie torch-bearers Bettie Serveert are expecting their fifth album, Log 22 (Hidden Agenda/Parasol), which mixes hints of techno into their sparse, jutting folk-rock songs. At night's end, Amsterdam's League of XO Gentlemen rock the house with rap pioneer Rudeboy (Urban Dance Squad, Junkie XL) on the mic. Boasting two turntablists alongside guitar, bass, and drums, the septet's debut, Smiling at the Claptrap Circuses fuses rock, rap, and techno into a rump-shaking gumbo. – Greg Beets

The Rum Diary

8pm, Maggie Mae's
San Francisco's acid flashbacks are good for nothing if not stargazing, so why are the Rum Diaries staring down at their shoes? Guitar pedals, pure and simple, as in last year's interstellar brew on Berkeley's Substandard Records, Poisons That Save Lives. Take two guitars and call HAL in the morning. – Raoul Hernandez

Leila Bela

8pm, Hideout
She speaks several languages, plays at least 17 instruments, and has lived all over the world, moving to Austin late last year. At a dumbfounding 65 tracks, her 2002 CD Angra Manyu is soothing, disturbing, adorable, and downright strange. Bela is also one of the newest members of industrial collective Pigface. – Christopher Gray

Renee Woodward

8pm, 18th Floor @ Crowne Plaza
Before this Austin singer-songwriter became a Flipnotics regular, she was on Sixth Street as Kacy Crowley's partner-in-busking. A recent series of demos produced by Billy Harvey suggests that while her lilt may be country, her songwriting has AAA written all over it. – Andy Langer

Colin Gilmore

8pm, Momos
How far can the apple fall from the tree? In the case of Colin Gilmore, it was pretty far removed from dad Jimmie Dale. His new CD, The Day the World Stopped and Spun the Other Way, sports a cover of the Clash's "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais" and features great players like Rob Gjersoe, Bukka Allen, and Aussie Audrey Auld. – Jerry Renshaw

Cooper's Uncle

8pm, Mother Egan's
It's hard breaking new ground in the narrow confines of bluegrass, but Austin's Cooper's Uncle is doing a good job of it. Their show might lapse into reggae, gypsy music, or country, with more than a whiff of Dead jam, all with traditional back-porch instrumentation. – Jerry Renshaw


8pm, Drink
Blending backwoods Cajun vocals with Big Apple beats and blips, Dustan Louque's music is laid-back Deep South soul swathed in urban clothing. Louque (pronounced "Luke") & Co.'s impressive debut, So Long, comes out next month on Newlafaya Records, confirming why this Brooklyn-based band has opened for Galactic, Moe, and MMW. – David Lynch

Dok Holiday

8pm, Zero Degrees
An Austin MC who adheres to the traditional Southern playa rap blueprint, Dok Holiday made a mark on the local scene in 2003 with his debut The Preseason as well as a spot on the Formula 512 mix tape. – Robert Gabriel

Timothy "Speed" Levitch & the Ongoing Wow

8pm, Hole in the Wall
Known for his leading role in The Cruise, a documentary about his life as a tour bus host in Manhattan, Speed Levitch has also contributed to Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater's Waking Life and Live From Shiva's Dance Floor. In the Ongoing Wow (formerly Sneezeguard), singer Levitch teams up with Gals Panic guitarist Jerm Pollet, bassist Teddy But, and drummer Marty Beller for improvised art-rock. – David Lynch

Small Stone

8pm-2am, Room 710
Good green stoner rock needs a little something extra rolled into the equation for added kick, and Detroit's Small Stone Records continues to do just that with another SXSW showcase. L.A.'s Sasquatch spark up hot smoke and sassafras, bubble-puppied through a bong and billowed metal. Richmond, Va.'s Throttlerod run like a coltish Four Horsemen via last year's Hell and High Water, while Denton's Dixie Witch delivered their own warning in 2003 with Into the Sun, buzzard rock of the orneriest kind. Can S.F.'s Porn, led by the Melvins' Dale Crover, ever top opening 2001's Kubrickian Experiments in Feedback with Floyd's "One of These Days"? The time draws nigh to find out. Scene mates Acid King draw a hiatus to a close with an upcoming Small Stone debut, the S.F. trio expecting a full-length heir to their Man's Ruin split of years back. Lori S. is still head chemist of death-valley delusions. Cashing in the evening is Washington state's Valis, which crosses Kiss with Kyuss in a way that could have larger labels demanding another toke. – Raoul Hernandez

BMI Presents

8pm-2am, Hard Rock Cafe
At the end of the day, this is a business, and BMI is in the song business. From the looks of this eight-band bill, business is good. Things gets started with Luna Halo, a superstylish Nashville outfit that splits the difference between Coldplay and Placebo. Equally adept at eyeshadow application is Chicago's Kill Hannah, whose Atlantic debut For Never & Ever is full of gorgeous melodies and hefty hooks. After a series of artsy LPs, Charleston's Jump (formerly Jump, Little Children) releases their third, more-AOR-leaning album Between the Dim & the Dark on April 20. As befits an outfit from the Kanawha River Valley of southern West Virginia, American Minor offer authentically crafted blooze that recalls early Skynyrd and midperiod Georgia Satellites. Next up, the well-hyped Charlie Mars, a Mississippi singer-songwriter whose self-titled V2 debut isn't due until May, but already has AAA radio programmers salivating. Word that Steve Lillywhite manned the boards for the proper debut by London's Razorlight should spark lines for a set from a band NME has already crowned "Kings of eminently British rock & roll." While Chicago's Redwalls fuse Stax-era soul and the Beatles into something surprisingly modern, you won't find many rough edges on Lume's EP2, a set of lush Jeff Buckley-ish tunes earning these Nashville natives serious CMJ chart action. – Andy Langer

Detachment Kit

8pm, Elysium
They sound like labelmates Les Savy Fav, but the DK has a style all its own, taking Built to Spill and adding a dollop of Devo. They're dropping their second LP, Of This Blood, on Frenchkiss Records this April, after setting quite a fire with their first. – Darcie Stevens

Moonlight Towers

8pm, Fox & Hound
By now the Built to Spill comparisons have been siphoned off, but the guitar tangle hasn't, and after a full-length and a series of EPs, neither have the covers: Beatles, Kinks, and, of course, the Austin quartet's grandiloquent cover of the Stones' "Moonlight Mile." – Raoul Hernandez

The Hiss

8pm, Red Eyed Fly
These quirky Floridians have warmed British stages for Oasis and the White Stripes, while NME invited them onto their recent Rock 'n' Roll Riot tour with Jet, calling them "a cross between the Verve and the Stooges." The new Panic Movement on Sanctuary suggests the Drive-by Truckers won't be leading the Southern rock revival alone for long. – Andy Langer


9pm, Austin Music Hall
Founders Imaad Wasif and Russ Pollard are two components of Lou Barlow's Folk Implosion. In 2000, the duo formed Alaska!, now a trio specializing in gorgeous, punky folk-rock with rangy guitars, chiming chords, and lovely harmonies. The L.A.-based act played hunky Alessandro Nivola's band (along with Barlow) in the film Laurel Canyon and are touring in support of their 2002 LP, Emotions (B-Girl Records). – Melanie Haupt

The Winter Pageant

9pm, Lava Lounge Patio
A new Brooklyn band full of ex-Austinites, the Winter Pageant crystallizes swirly, dream pop influences similar to the Autumns, Eaves, or Stills – only with more of a visceral edge. Features bassist Paul Newman, of the band of the same name, and ex-members of the Household Names and Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! – Michael Chamy

Color Bars

9pm, Saké on Sixth
These NYC multi-instrumentalistas send out a plushly produced luv vibe on their Making Playthings EP (Paranoiac), a tangy, steeped paisley concoction that's part Pet Sounds, part Everly Brothers, and all Austin Powers' Ming Tea. – Kate X Messer


9pm, Copper Tank North
The world needs more bands with song titles like "Corndogs Are Our Friends," but not Austin – we've already got Canoe. The local trio's 2003 CD I Give You Canoe! (Amazing Grease) is a garagey vortex of Farfisa and guitar that could have come straight from Sixties TV dance parties Hullabaloo or Shindig. – Christopher Gray

The National

9pm, Antone's
While critics waste time arguing whether they sound more like the Shins or Wilco, it's noteworthy that this Brooklyn-via-Cincinnati quintet lived up to a great sophomore album title: Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. – Andy Langer

Brent Best

9pm, Bigsby's
Best is usually associated with beer-infused Denton twangers Slobberbone, but he's been getting out on his own lately. His tales of sodden self-reproach are always laced with mordant humor and more than a little defiance, rather than woe-is-me agonizing. – Jerry Renshaw

Stevie Tombstone

9pm, Opal Divine's Freehouse
Austin's Stevie Tombstone deserves a wider audience on the merits of 2003's 7:30 a.m. (Saustex Media), a slice of honky-tonk that couches heartbreak, betrayal, and murder in hard-bitten arrangements that would make the Man in Black proud. – Christopher Gray

Ken Stringfellow

9pm, Lounge
While he's not released anything since 2001's solo outing Touched (Manifesto), Ken Stringfellow hasn't been resting on his laurels. Half of influential Seattle popsters the Posies, he's filled his days as a member of R.E.M.'s touring band, as well as the Minus Five, re-forming the Posies (backing Big Star at SXSW), and releasing Private Sides, a split EP with Jon Auer. – Melanie Haupt


9pm, Maggie Mae's
San Francisco's Evening signed to Lookout! last year on the strength of their self-financed debut LP, Other Victorians, and expansive but cohesive exploration of underground rock, retro-futurist techno, and jazz. It's dark and brooding, yet powerful and full of hope. – Greg Beets


9pm, Hideout
A spiritual cousin to Austin's Casio-addicted Pong, Toof comes across like early Beck after staying up all night reading Isaac Asimov. His entirely self-performed 2002 EP Bus Stop Style fires up the drum machine for a journey into a realm where killer starfish mutate into stoner-rock riffs and breakdancing robots shoot lasers from their eyes. – Christopher Gray


9pm, Club DeVille
Imagine Kid Rock abducted by the Frogs, and you're getting Vagiant. These four L.A. fart jokers deliver painfully irreverent yarns about Amber Alerts, Dumpster babies, and sexing up Martha Stewart. Their self-titled CD is perfect for livening up lame bachelor parties where guys sit around watching Dutch bestiality porn with the sound turned down. – Greg Beets

The Greenhornes

9pm, Red Eyed Fly
This Cincinnati quartet plays Yardbirds/Brian Jones-era Stones riffage in their brand of Midwestern rock. Their 2002 release on Telstar, Dual Mono, is a 12-song blast of prepsychedelic Sixties-style rock. – Jerry Renshaw

Van Stone

10pm, Club DeVille
L.A.'s Van Stone is an authentic yet tongue-in-cheek celebration of the hard rock high-life led by vocalist Dave Sheridan, who you'll remember as Doug the nunchaku-brandishing convenience store loiterer in Ghost World. – Greg Beets


10pm, Fox & Hound
One of the recent big things on the Austin music scene, Endochine has created an audible splash with their live presentation, and the Lars Goransson-produced debut Day Two. Doobie Brothers guitarist Skunk Baxter jammed with the band at their triumphant Austin City Limits Music Festival appearance last year. – David Lynch


10pm, Emo's Annex
This Massachusetts pop-punk quartet flirts with the emo appellation, but they're in no danger of succumbing to it. They've landed on Side One Dummy, where they're about to release the long-awaited follow-up to 2002's We Are the Only Friends We Have. – Greg Beets

Limited Express (Has Gone?)

10pm, Caucus
Kyoto, Japan's Limited Express (Has Gone?) comes from the slam-bang school of Japanese avant-noise that spawned the Boredoms and Melt Banana. Last year's Feeds You! came out on John Zorn's Tzadik label. – Greg Beets

The Standard

10pm, Antone's
This Portland, Ore., fivepiece sets a new Standard with its debut for burgeoning Chapel Hill indie Yep Roc. The group's third album, Wire Post to Wire, zings dark and tremulous, like an emo Interpol, guitars, keys, and vox locked permanently in minor-key discomfort. – Raoul Hernandez

The Sundresses

10pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz
The Sundresses are a Cincinnati trio made up of a former high school marching bando, angst rocker, and a folk player. Given that, last year's The Only Tourist in Town (Hooray) is surprisingly cohesive. This debut features feedback and reverb-drenched guitars, gutbucket syncopations, and bluesy swagger, all couched in a saturated late-night mood. – David Lynch

La Rocca

10pm, Soho Lounge
Nobody took notice of these representatives from the Emerald Isle back in 2002. This year will likely be different. The quartet is creeping toward world domination, having released their chiming, charming pop-rock single, "Sing, Song, Sung," onto the Australian airwaves. – Melanie Haupt

Zell Miller III

10pm, Hole in the Wall
Not to be confused with the Dixiecrat senator from Georgia, Austin-bred Zell Miller III is a poet, actor, director, and playwright who's achieved national recognition as one of the foremost upcoming artists in hip-hop theatre. His autobiographical spoken word/hip-hop production, The Evidence of Silence Broken, came out as his debut with DJ Brainchild last year. – Greg Beets

Big Collapse

10:15pm, Back Room
With its aggressive emo core of acts, Militia Group nü metallers Big Collapse are less hair and more edge. The L.A. quartet's label debut, 2003's Prototype, needles plenty, though it misses the "Def Leppard meets Helmet" designation the BC aspires to. – Raoul Hernandez

Will Bernard & Motherbug

10:15pm, Elephant Room
An accomplished jazz-funk guitarist with Bay area roots, Will Bernard studied composition at UC Berkeley under Miles Davis veteran Dave Creamer. He has since collaborated with everyone from Charlie Hunter to the Coup and Odile Lavault's Baguette Quartette. – Robert Gabriel

The Everyothers

11pm, Lava Lounge Patio
The Everyothers have been hailed as New York's best-kept rock secret, while others have dubbed singer Owen McCarthy a male counterpart to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O. The Brooklynites' self-titled debut on Hautlab laces up the platform boots for a spin around the Lower East Side. – Christopher Gray


11pm, B.D. Riley's
Hailing from the exquisite Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia, Wales, Melys is a balancing act, walking a wire between pop and Eighties synth-rock. Their 2003 release, Casting Pearls, spilled forth 11 glowing compositions with occasional Welsh lyrics, captivating and memorable. With bands like Melys following Super Furry Animals, Wales could be new breeding ground for the musical underground. – Margaret Moser

The Fever

11pm, Red Eyed Fly
Equally influenced by Sixties garage and Eighties New Wave, buzzworthy NYC quintet the Fever aren't afraid to indulge their feminine sides. Their debut EP, Pink on Pink, strikes all the right poses, including a sardonic, electro-gliding cover of Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life." – Christopher Gray

Mary & Mars

11pm, Mother Egan's
A trio of youngsters from Santa Fe, N.M., Mary & Mars are an eclectic bunch taking bluegrass as a jumping-off point. Their live sets feature strong originals and everything from 1800s murder ballads to Motown, bluegrass standards, and Eighties rock tunes. They just released an LP recorded last summer at the famous Old Blinking Light in Taos, N.M. – Jim Caligiuri

Jack West & Curvature

11:30pm, Elephant Room
Describing their music as "progressive acoustic jazz," Jack West & Curvature carve out a peerless niche with exceptional ensemble playing and West's accomplished and alternate eight-string guitar work. The Bay area outfit includes two drummers, marimba lumina, and a 14-string pedal steel guitar. They're currently toting their most recent Around About Now (Ahead Behind), as well as four previous albums. – David Lynch

The Amazing Pilots

Midnight, B.D. Riley's
Belfast brothers Paul & Phil Wilkinson marry simple, country-tinged pop with complicated emotions on their debut, Hello My Captor, a poignant collection reminiscent of Grandaddy's lovely Sumday. – Melanie Haupt

Manic Hispanic

Midnight, Emo's Jr.
"Creeper Is a Lowrider," "Get Them Immigrated," "Brand New Impala" ... you get the idea. Manic Hispanic comprises veterans of West Coast bands like the Cadillac Tramps, Adolescents, and Grabbers, taking punk anthems like X's "White Girl" and making it into "Brown Girl." Their hilarious send-ups rock like crazy, and their 1995 The Menudo Incident CD is being re-released on BYO Records. – Jerry Renshaw


Midnight, Continental Club
And you thought Rush was the only Canadian power trio that mattered. Decamping from Toronto last year, Gordy "Big Sugar" Johnson and buddy Big Ben Richardson join Austin's Double Trouble drummer Tommy Shannon for ripping blues-rock with the bite of a Winnipeg winter. It's more Mississippi than Manitoba, but it sure sounds great in Texas. – Christopher Gray

Jesse Dayton

Midnight, Opal Divine's Freehouse
Austinite Dayton's got the looks, the chops, the voice, and the songwriting, and it all comes together on the Stag Records release Tall Texas Tales. With comparisons to Steve Earle, Doug Sahm, and Dwight Yoakam in his press kit, his brand of country resonates. – Jerry Renshaw

Bontempi Bros.

Midnight, Hideout
After a long layoff, Waco's Bontempi Bros. resurrect the art-damaged, sacrilegious spirit of late-Eighties Texas noise punk. Led by Richard Smith of Crust (the first band on King Coffey's Trance Syndicate label), the BBs combine Crust's penchant for perversity with a minimalist approach that pumps up the discomfort level. – Greg Beets

Low Flying Owls

Midnight, Copper Tank North
Sacramento's Low Flying Owls cruise the spidery surfaces of vintage Jesus & Mary Chain, fog-shrouded vistas awash in reverb and foreboading. Their 2003 LP, Elixir Vitae (Stinky), is cavernous and whispery. – Christopher Gray

The Beautiful Mistake

Midnight, Back Room
Rising from the Ember(s), SoCal's TBM are another Militia Group cutting their metal with indie angst and English drama. This Is Who You Are is due in April and features slice 'n' dice skate riffs racing the beat over the defiantly emotional cries of singer/axe tandem Josh Hagquist and Shawn Grover. – Raoul Hernandez

Trans Am

Midnight, Emo's Annex
Hard to tell which Trans Am you're going to get, the one whose fusion of classic rock and Kraftwerk inspired so many retro-worshipping followers, or the one whose TA (Thrill Jockey, 2003) retardedly aped those same Eighties-obsessed followers. – Michael Chamy


Midnight, Lava Lounge Patio
Formed in 1997, Tokyo's Polysics filter late Seventies New Wave like Devo through a raging wall of Atari Teenage Riot-style white noise that seizes mind and body with anarchic frenzy. The matching jumpsuit-clad quartet doesn't let this penchant for insane distortion get in the way of a fun, hook-laden rock show. – Greg Beets

Attack Formation

1am, Caucus
Austin's Attack Formation has any number of different lineups, and an anagrammatic spelling to go with each one, but it all springs from the fertile mind of Ben Webster. Something of a concept album about ghosts in the machine, 2003's self-titled effort on Die Die Diemond rambles from Melvins-like sludge and laptop techno to odd patches of serenity. – Christopher Gray

SuicideGirls Burlesque Show

1am, Emo's Annex
Before the Internet, porn mavens who didn't subscribe to the airbrushed silicone aesthetic were SOL. Now every fetish has its Web site, and Portland-based SuicideGirls has successfully exploited a loyal market niche that will pay to look at tattooed, pierced punk rock girls in various stages of undress. Of course, I just go there for the interviews. – Greg Beets

Eddie Spaghetti

1am, Opal Divine's Freehouse
Never in a million years did anyone reckon that the Supersuckers' Eddie Spaghetti would go solo. That's exactly what he did with his brand-spankin'-new The Sauce (Mid Fi Recordings). It's a covers album, so here's to Eddie playin' Skynyrd once again. – Darcie Stevens

Po Girl

1am, Pecan Street Ale House
Their name may upend a Louisiana sandwich, but this Vancouver act is anything but a joke. Their eponymous debut last year on HighTone garnered the all-lady trio praise for their honest chops, and bittersweet songwriting. Expect murder ballads and nocturnal country blues generated from pennywhistle, mandolin, clarinet, banjo, fiddle, guitar, and vocal harmonies. – David Lynch

The Hackensaw Boys

1am, Mother Egan's
The Hackensaw Boys are a sevenpiece outfit of Virginia musicians that spin traditional and original old-time-inspired, bluegrass-driven music with punk rock abandon and old-school country style. Not to be pigeonholed, they've shared the stage with such diverse acts as Cake, De La Soul, and the Flaming Lips. – Jim Caligiuri

The Rogers Sisters

1am, Red Eyed Fly
You've gotta love a record titled Purely Evil (Troubleman) that features a photo of George W. with a privacy bar across his eyes. Brooklyn trio Laura & Jennifer Rogers and lone dude Miyuki Furtado create electro pop-punk that flashes back to a more pastel era; think Go-Go's meet Devo. After last year's debut, follow-up Three Fingers is due this spring. – Melanie Haupt

O.G. Style

1am, Zero Degrees
Part of the original Rap-a-Lot lineup, Houston's O.G. Style has been milking the success of 1991 hit "Catch Em Slippin'" long enough for the folks at Quannum to treat them like long-lost legends. With Original E assuming the group's title, a resurrection of their street savvy raps is in progress. – Robert Gabriel


1am, Saké on Sixth
This happens every year: The Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie & Simon Raymonde come to SXSW and sign another Texas band to their Bella Union label. Last year, Denton's Midlake were the winners, like Lift to Experience, Explosions in the Sky, and Jetscreamer before them. Debut LP Bamnan and Slivercork is due this year, a continuation of the vintage Radiohead sound from the band's Milkmaid Grand Army EP. – Michael Chamy

Aurora Plastics Company

1am, Hideout
Named after a firm that created monster movie kits in the late Sixties, Aurora Plastics Company is Anne Heller and Lars Nilsen, often with guest musicians. Together for more than 10 years, the pair produces sculptures of sound nearly indescribable, but always challenging, as on their Crunchy Food/Bobby J Records release Low Noise. – David Lynch

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