SXSW Showcase Picks

Spend the evening with your favorite record label.

Time Flys
Time Flys

Birdman Records

8pm, Club de Ville In response to the blockbuster mindset of major labels, former Warner Bros. Vice President David Katznelson started Birdman Records to showcase niche-market types that once might have inked multialbum deals at his former employer. Back in 1973, an enterprising young A&R chap might have heard Pittsburgh's Midnite Snake as a melding of Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, and the MC5. The instrumental trio exudes more electrified Sturm und Drang than any three humans have a right to on their upcoming second album, Shaving the Angel. The Spider Bags' crackle-scratch country gets filtered through a blurry garage-punk web on the Chapel Hill, N.C., group's forthcoming label debut. Kosse, Texas' most famous musician is Greg Ashley, the man behind modern-day psychedelic warriors the Gris Gris. Last week marked the release of Painted Garden, his first solo album since 2003's Medicine Fuck Dream. Ashley's set includes rambling Brian Jonestown Massacre alum Brian Glaze and the entire Medicine Fuck Dream Road Show for what promises to be a freak-out that would make the Red Krayola proud. A gentler brand of psychedelia adds flavor to the Nice Boysâ an enjoyable crossbreed of bubblegum pop with glam rock. The Portland, Ore., quintet's new self-titled LP would sound great through drive-in speakers. Oakland's the Time Flys mitigate the spaz-punk impulsiveness of the Dickies with a stab in the general direction of pop on their latest, Rebels of Babylon. Hailing from the other side of the Bay, show-closing quartet Apache drop glam-driven tribal thunder that'll pin your VU meters firmly in the red. – Greg Beets


Merge Records

8pm, Antone's One of indie rock's most revered labels kicks off the festival in grand style. Warming up is Brooklyn's the Ladybug Transistor, whose allegiance lies firmly in Sixties-style pop. Look for Can't Wait Another Day in May. Next up is San Francisco's Imperial Teen. Squeeee! Indie-movie geeks, grad students, and fag hags just peed themselves at the re-emergence of the gayest quartet this side of Scissor Sisters. And we mean that in the best way possible. Expect a follow-up to 2002's On later this year. L.A.'s power-pop quintet the Broken West are the new kids on the block, having just released their debut, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On. Brooklyn sextet Oakley Hall are the veterans on the bill; their most recent album is the psych-blues platter Gypsum Strings. We're very excited about husband/wife duo the Rosebuds. While the Raleigh, N.C., homeys may have reached the peak of indie-pop perfection with 2005's Birds Make Good Neighbors, they'll log another entry into their discography this April with the mirror ball on Night of the Furies. If you haven't figured out who the "special guests from Austin" are by now, we're sure as hell not going to spoon-feed you. It's not fiction that the quartet will release its sixth full-length this summer. – Melanie Haupt

The Chumps
The Chumps (Photo By Felicia Graham)

Mortville/Super Secret Records

8pm, Beerland Tonight you're gonna get your kicks with a Texas-sized dollop of sneers and beers, courtesy of Mortville and Super Secret Records. Spawned from Austin's mid-Nineties garage-punk explosion, the twin local labels continue to spotlight the wildly skewed and the exceedingly snotty. Openers Sparkle Motion lean toward the latter with scream-along anthems like "Drinkin' and Dialin'," from their new self-titled debut. Guitarist/vocalist Suzy Sparkle emits bloodcurdling growls right out of Kat Bjelland's playbook, but the Austin quartet's sound also has a pop undertone that evokes fond memories of the Pandoras. Nervous Hospital features veterans of Austin punk legends the Chumps and the Motards. As the name implies, the quintet puts a slightly spastic twist on its former bands' visceral punk rock assault. Local trio Manikin solidified its art-damaged punk assault on post-industrial dystopia with 2005's Still. Seattle's the Trashies are the lone out-of-towners here, but the geek lust of a song like "Sweatpants Boner" is sure to elicit a universal "eww." The self-described "shit rock basement sensations" coast into SXSW on the fumes of their second album, What Makes a Man Get Trashed? Austin's Faceless Werewolves serve up a white-hot amalgam of no-wave blues and glam-rock trash on 2006's Medium Freaky, while the Ends maintain a spirit-of-'77 vibe with their solid-state punk rock. Finishing right back at the beginning are the Chumps. The recently reunited quartet roars through aural loogies like "I'm a Chump" and "Needle Beach" like it's 1997 all over again. – Greg Beets

Loney, Dear
Loney, Dear

Sub Pop

8pm, Emo's IV Lounge Seattle's Sub Pop has survived the iPod age by shedding its flannel, cutting its hair, and choosing polyphonic polygamy over grunge monotony. Which makes the emergence of the label's first Brooklyn signing, Oxford Collapse, all the sweeter. OC, dubbed OxC by Pitchfork, performs an eclectic range of indie rock with withering proficiency, earning comparisons to punky players as varied as Gang of Four and Ted Leo. 2006's Sub Pop debut Remember the Night Parties sounds derivative at times, and Michael Pace's nasal vocals occasionally get lost in the mix, yet the band's fealty to SST jams does their influences proud. The inclusion of random crushes and ex-girlfriends as subject matter add to the nostalgia for those that came of age before MP3s. Rocking on the heels of these old-school enthusiasts comes bionic Northwest instrumental band Kinski, worthy of a John Zorn side project and ready to melt some faces. The international influx comes from Swedish twee-popper Loney, Dear, a further reflection of broadened aural horizons in Jet City. Other sounds to be sampled include Seattle one-man-band Tiny Vipers, shaggy Chicago fourpiece Maps & Atlases, and comedian of comedy Patton Oswalt. – Dan Oko

Willowz (Photo By Aubrey Edwards)

Dim Mak

8pm, Flamingo Cantina DJ Steve Aoki is obsessed with Bruce Lee. He even named his eclectic L.A. label Dim Mak after the supposed "death touch" that took the icon's life. That said, the acts on Dim Mak have little to do with martial arts. After gaining ground with explosive acts like Whirlwind Heat, Pretty Girls Make Graves, and the Coup, Aoki brings another divergent crew to SXSW 07. Southern California garage fourpiece the Willowz let in the light with new Chautauqua, a mixture of previous LP Talk in Circles' cacophony and the reveries of Michel Gondry, who featured the band in his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Science of Sleep. Recent Austin transplants via Nashville, Oh No! Oh My! are just settling into Dim Mak's basement, and the trio will have a new EP of sunny indie pop out this summer. London's Scanners run the gamut from hyperenergetic thrash to solemn piano melodies led by Sarah Daly's Chrissie Hynde vox and subtle violin on last summer's debut, Violence Is Golden. Former Dim Makker Ben Lee discovered Montreal all-girl quartet Pony Up, but they've grown gams of their own with last year's debut LP, Make Love to the Judges With Your Eyes. Their pop might seem innocent, but there's a dangerous flirtation behind the dreamy "The Truth About Cats and Dogs (Is That They Die)." And what would SXSW be sans L.A.'s tighty-whitey-loving Har Mar Superstar? Ladies, rev your engines. – Darcie Stevens

John Schooley
John Schooley (Photo By Aubrey Edwards)

Hook or Crook

11pm, Lava Lounge Patio When James Arthur (Spring Branch, Texas) and Chris Owen (Oakland, Calif.) pooled their talents to create Hook or Crook Records in 2005, there wasn't much of a plan. They love garage rock – Arthur was in the Golden Boys, and Owen is in Killer's Kiss – and they love records. With wax on the brain, Hook or Crook put out several one-off vinyl-only projects from the likes of Montreal's Demon's Claws and Ben Wallers' the Rebel, but they're really good at picking acts that blow every amp from here to L.A. With Arthur moving on to other endeavors, Owen lets loose the reins. Austin's John Schooley & His One Man Band takes the stage with tales of riding the rails and skimming the blacktop from the Lone Star State to Down Under, as on live 7-inch Live on Australian Radio. San Francisco fivepiece Hank IV – no relation to Hanks Sr., Jr., or III – is hard, dirty, and just like you love it on Third Person Shooter. You know frontman Bob McDonald's got some moves. Putting the finishing touches on SXSW Night No. 1 are Canyon Lake sweeties the Golden Boys, otherwise known as the drunken love child of John Wesley Coleman and Matt Hoopengardner run through twin, duct-taped Humbuckers and turned up to 11 on new release Whisky Flower. It's gonna be dirty, sweaty, and raw as hell. – Darcie Stevens

Blonde Redhead
Blonde Redhead


8pm, Emo's Main The people over at 4AD must be closet sports fanatics. To wit: Recent signee Emma Pollock is a former member of the Scottish indie outfit the Delgados, who were named after ... former pro cyclist Pedro Delgado. The band's also notable for starting Chemikal Underground, the label that launched Mogwai, Bis, and Arab Strap, as much as its own recordings. After a 2005 split, Pollock began writing lustrous minor-keyed solo material for an upcoming debut. Among the half-bazillion manic folk songs the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle has penned is the ode "Cubs in Five." With spring training just under way, better to lay odds on Darnielle's 2005 magnum opus The Sunset Tree. The once-experimental techlecticisms of NYC-based trio Blonde Redhead have yielded a more hypnotic feel over their last couple of albums (think Portishead wiping out the last vestiges of Sonic Youth). The band's upcoming release, 23, is composed entirely of songs about Michael Jordan. (That's a blatant lie.) Beirut's SXSW showcase will be Zach Condon's first live appearance since becoming the daaahling of the indie world last year with the New Mexican-born/Judeo-Slavic (or is that Judeo-Baltic?) offering The Gulag Orkestar. Finally, half the members of Wolf & Cub are drummers, presumably so they can knock clear the residual resin and bring the rock. Plus, they're Aussies, which means they probably understand cricket and can explain the differences between Rugby League and Rugby Union. – Michael Bertin

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Thursday Interview
Thursday Interview

Nina Hernandez, March 20, 2015

Thursday Picks & Sleepers
Thursday Picks & Sleepers
SXSW Thursday handicapping by the blurb

March 20, 2015


Manikin, Sparkle Motion, Nervous Hospital, The Chumps

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle