Friday Picks

All showcases subject to change

Vampire Weekend

Friday Picks
11pm, Antone's

In typical Ivy League fashion, Vampire Weekend coined its own genre: "Upper West Side Soweto." It's a combination of traditional Afro-pop, Trinidadian calypso, and slick art-punk, leaning heavily on the lush orchestration of Paul Simon's Graceland. The quartet of Columbia University grads craft concise pop about French architecture ("Mansard Roof") and linguistic imperialism ("Oxford Comma") without ever sounding overly verbose or contrived. "One (Blake's Got a New Face)" even incorporates elements of the Mighty Sparrow's "Obeah Wedding."

"We're very conscious of what we're doing both musically and visually," stresses drummer Christopher Tomson. "We want to create a whole aesthetic. We've seen people use Vampire Weekend as an adjective. At some level, I think that means we're successful."

Navigating the band's van outside of Columbus, Ohio, Tomson randomly engages in Trivial Pursuit on everything from Harry Belafonte ("He gave Bob Dylan his first chance to record on the harmonica on one of his records") to the best barbecue in Lockhart ("Kreuz Market"). His casual demeanor carries over into discussion of the group's self-titled breakthrough debut.

"When we wrote the album, there wasn't any pressure there," he says. "We weren't signed to a label. We didn't have management. We were just four friends that wanted to write good songs and get good recordings of them."

Demo versions of Vampire Weekend's now-infamous blue CD-R found their way online through blogs like Music for Robots and Good Weather for Airstrikes, beginning on Valentine's Day 2007. Less than a year later, XL Recordings released the album, and already Vampire Weekend and Upper West Side Soweto are working their way into common diction.

"The idea of actually releasing is quite vague," Tomson says of the blue CD-R. "We literally burned maybe 70 copies and sold them at only like two or three shows. It was like someone released them for us, and then it took on a life of its own." – Austin Powell

Japan Nite

8pm, Elysium Year in, year out, it's one of the safest bets, and it doesn't even matter who's on the schedule. For sheer variety and weirdness, Japan Nite continues to be the one place at SXSW where you could park yourself and know you're going to see three or four things you've never seen before. Tokyo dominates this year with Avengers in Sci-Fi, Quartz-Head 02, Detroit7, Petty Booka, and Ketchup Mania. – Michael Bertin

Jeff Hanson

8pm, Emo's Lounge Singer-songwriters rarely reach outside the box to combine those emotive lyrics with real magic, but with a mythical voice and fragile words, St. Paul, Minn.'s Jeff Hanson achieves what few have. His 2005 eponymous manic sophomore album on Kill Rock Stars married his impish pitch with haunting songwriting, and his long-awaited third disc, Madam Owl, is finally on its way. – Darcie Stevens

Ryan Bingham

8pm, Momo's The latest in a long line of West Texas songwriters scrambling to catch up with the late Townes Van Zandt, 26-year-old Ryan Bingham, now of Austin, gives it his best shot on last fall's Mescalito (Lost Highway). He's got that rocks-in-the-throat voice, smart songs, and gets a boost on disc from producer Marc Ford (Black Crowes). – Dan Oko

The Homosexuals

8pm, Spiros Amphitheater London quartet the Homosexuals opened for Roxy Music and the Damned but never reached that same notoriety. Their steely clamor and visionary punk ethos echoed contemporaries Swell Maps more than the Sex Pistols, and 2004's 3-CD retrospective, Astral Glamour, remains a splendid look into their futuristic art savagery. (Also: Saturday, March 15, 10pm @ Beauty Bar.) – Audra Schroeder

Mika Miko

8pm, Flamingo Cantina Los Angeles is in the process of birthing the new No Wave scene. L.A. label Post Present Medium aids and abets by releasing all-girl thrashers Mika Miko's new EP, 666. Habitues of both the emerging underground and New Yorker-profiled venue the Smell, dueling anti-popstars Jennifer Clavin and Jenna Thornhill recall Bratmobile by way of a drunken Germs debacle. (Also: Friday, March 14, 12mid @ Emo's Lounge.) – Marc Savlov


8pm, Buffalo Billiards Jennifer Moore is absinthian, surreal, and slurring through Yellow Fever's 2007 EP, Cats and Rats (Hugpatch). The Austin fourpiece delicately slices through pop history, taking hints from girl groups and grunge. Moore's voice intoxicated on Voxtrot sneak peek "Sway," but with YellowFever, her back-and-forth with Isabel Martin surfaces. Adam Jones and Cole Huddlestein round out the semipsych roll. – Darcie Stevens

Lykke Li

8:30pm, Ninety Proof Lounge "For you I'd keep my legs apart," hushes Lykke Li in her breakthrough single, "Little Bit." The 21-year-old Swedish chanteuse isn't afraid to expose herself musically, revealing frail innocence and glacial beauty through stripped arrangements. An elusive charm wafts from her forthcoming, Björn Yttling-produced debut, Youth Novels (LL Recordings), and it's worth chasing. (Also: 11pm @ Maggie Mae's Rooftop.) – Austin Powell


9pm, Stubb's Bringing Caribbean flavor to the Brooklyn scene, Santogold (Santi White) draws comparisons to M.I.A., but the Philly native, who studied Cuban, Haitian, and West African hand drumming at Wesleyan University, ably bounces electro, reggae, and club-hop on her own. – Chase Hoffberger

Tom Brosseau

9pm, 18th Floor @ Hilton Garden It's testament to Tom Brosseau's unique appeal that he can immediately follow a stint touring alongside Icelandic electro-experimentalists Múm with a run of shows opening for bluegrass pop stars Nickel Creek. Brosseau's allure lingers in his high-reaching vocals, shearing calm acoustic folk that rings with a restless nostalgia, as on last year's beautifully wrought fifth album, Cavalier (Fat Cat). – Doug Freeman


9pm, Wave Rooftop Sounding like Devo if Devo had been raised at the Hacienda by the Birthday Party instead of in Akron, Ohio. London-based OELM's debut, Motherhood/Fatherhood (Transgressive Records), is howlingly eerie stuff, a cacophony of longing, despair, and entirely engaging agitpop. – Marc Savlov

Future Clouds & Radar

9pm, Momo's Vehicle for former Cotton Mather guitarist Robert Harrison, Austin's Future Clouds & Radar surfaced last year with a sprawling and eponymous double album. The 27-song collection is a magical mystery tour of playfully psychedelic pop, driven by expansive horn arrangements. It's little wonder why Harp Magazine heralded the band as the Debut Artist of the Year for 2007. – Austin Powell

The Krayolas featuring augie Myers

9pm, Jovita's More than 30 years after blasting off with "All I Do Is Try," San Antonio power-pop lifers the Krayolas re-emerged in 2007 with Best Riffs Only (Box), a 16-song retrospective. The quartet's bright vocal harmonies and chugging organ riffs earned them the "Tex-Mex Beatles" honorific once applied to the Sir Douglas Quintet. Not content to rest on old laurels, the Krayolas release La Conquistadora later this year. – Greg Beets


9:30pm, the Rio Hometown pop-punk favorites Cruiserweight pack more emotional voltage into a single song than most emo bands manage their entire career. Named Best Alternative/Punk Band four years running in the Austin Music Awards, Cruiserweight boasts singer Stella Maxwell, the epitome of punk prowess, and its hook-laden, guitar-heavy CDs (most recently Sweet Weaponry) fulfill every promise you ever broke. – Marc Savlov

Pissed Jeans

9:30pm, Bourbon Rocks Patio A Pissed Jeans show always teeters on the verge of a house party gone wrong, where "that guy" does too many tequila shots, takes off his pants, and pukes in your pool. The Philly quartet, fronted by oft-shirtless growler Matt Korvette, compressed sexually frustrated urban ennui into ear-splitting, bottom-heavy skree on last year's Sub Pop debut, Hope for Men, searching for meaning beyond "that guy"-ness. – Audra Schroeder

Rogue Wave

10pm, Cedar Door Weren't these guys just here, playing a sold-out show at the Parish? This time they'll have already squeezed in a mostly sold-out European tour with indie buddies Nada Surf. The Oakland, Calif., group's third LP, Asleep at Heaven's Gate (Brushfire), is a triumph of musical and emotional maturity, embracing both the beautiful and the fug of life. – Melanie Haupt

Bobby Bare Jr.

10pm, Club de Ville Always captivating, Nashville-based Bobby Bare Jr. waltzes across genres without regard for regionalisms. He hasn't dropped an album since 2006's The Longest Meow (Bloodshot), but it's more than likely Bare's picked up some new tricks from his pals in Son Volt and the Decemberists. His rocking, Westerbergian psych-country continues to influence. – Dan Oko

Junior Brown

10:30pm, Austin Music Hall Wielding a suave honky-tonk baritone and his custom-made guit-steel, "Big Red," a double-headed axe combining six-string and steel guitars, Junior Brown has become an Austin legend since his days fronting the Continental Club house band. Following 2004's Down Home Chrome (Telarc), Brown returned to his stomping grounds in 2005 on Live at the Continental Club: The Austin Experience, featuring classics like "Highway Patrol" and "My Wife Thinks You're Dead." – Doug Freeman

Slim Cessna's Auto Club

11pm, Emo's Jr. As irreverent as they are honest, Slim Cessna's Auto Club was bucking its uproarious hardcore country long before cowpunk became the popular contemporary refuge for disillusioned alt-rockers. Pitting Cessna's gold-tooth twang with Jay Munly's dark brooding vocals and a yokel-chanting chorus, the Denver sextet's fourth studio album, Cipher, released on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles imprint, continues to upend Americana and fuel its infamously unbridled live set. – Doug Freeman

Chuck Prophet

11pm, Ale House It's been a busy year for San Francisco's Chuck Prophet. He released the fabulous Soap and Water, his first for Yep Roc; made a boisterous appearance on Late Night With David Letterman; co-wrote songs for Alejandro Escovedo's upcoming album; and raised a ruckus on the Internet with a download-only re-creation of Waylon Jennings' "Dreaming My Dreams." – Jim Caligiuri

Sahara Smith

11pm, Stephen F's Bar Although she's just 19, Sahara Smith possesses the ability to engage an audience with songs both ethereal and unforgettable. The Austinite's precocious, evocative brand of folk music has drawn comparisons as diverse as Suzanne Vega and Marianne Faithfull, and a debut is forthcoming. – Jim Caligiuri

Blue Rodeo & Friends

11pm, Smokin' Music In 2007, the Canadian sextet celebrated its 20th year together by releasing its 11th album, Small Miracles (Warner Bros.), another inspired collection of roots rock tethered by hearty songwriting and spirited ensemble play. Earlier this year, they were nominated for three Juno Awards, including Group of the Year. – Jim Caligiuri

Langhorne Slim

11pm, Club de Ville Langhorne Slim's country ruckus has always kicked with an uneasy anxiety embedded in his quivering, nasal croon. His eponymous debut for versatile imprint Kemado is set for an April release, bolstering the Pennsylvania native and Brooklyn-based songwriter's acoustic romps with explosions of horns and honky-tonk piano that drift easily into shouted Southern rockers. – Doug Freeman


11pm, Emo's Annex Remember the first time you heard Soundgarden's Louder Than Love? OK, it's been awhile, but that doesn't mean local boys Lions weren't able to turn the bong-rattling bottom end of last year's No Generation into something totally their own. Total fucking riffage. – Michael Bertin


11pm, Emo's Lounge It's a shame Portland, Ore.'s Panther gets lumped in with all those asymmetrically sheared electro-funk duos that are all the rage right now, because they have a sense of humor. Vocalist/guitarist Charlie Salas-Humara (hello, Walter S-H) and powerhouse drummer Joe Kelly slip into dance-y on latest 14kt God (Kill Rock Stars), but they also space it out with trippy dub and angled punk that doesn't fit in your skinny jeans. – Audra Schroeder

Golden Arm Trio

11pm, St. David's Church Local composer/pianist/drummer Graham Reynolds keeps all the plates spinning as he hopscotches between diverse projects like writing symphonies, leading a Duke Ellington tribute band, and scoring Rick Linklater's A Scanner Darkly. In 2007, he led his Golden Arm Trio through a cinematic classical/jazz car crash on The Tick-Tock Club (Shamrock). Reynolds takes on ballet next month with Cult of Color: Call to Color. – Greg Beets


11pm, Buffalo Billiards Earlimart, otherwise known as Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray, is one of those bands that sound one way (Elliott Smith) in the CD player and turn into full-on rockers onstage. The pair released their fifth LP, Mentor Tormentor (Major Domo Records/Shout! Factory), last summer, and it's less mopey, a little darker and fuzzier. The live version should sound like death metal. – Melanie Haupt

Half Japanese

11pm, Spiros Amphitheater That's right, Half Japanese! The classic lineup! Jad and David Fair, guitarist Mark Jickling, drummer Ricky Dreyfuss, and brother John on sax. That means classic Half Jap songs from Charmed Life, Loud, and who knows what other gems. And at a fest like this, who knows who might just show up to jam with Half Jap. – Audra Schroeder

King Britt

11:45pm, Beauty Bar One of the most eclectic and forward-thinking DJs in the country, King Britt got his start touring with Digable Planets under the alias Silkworm. The Philadelphia native has since immersed himself in house, jazz, hip-hop, 1970s funk, and 1980s dance while creating concept albums and soundtracks for imaginary films. His latest, 2007's Deep and Sexy 4, is a masterful mix of sensual house music. – Thomas Fawcett

Carrie Rodriguez

12mid, Momo's Local gal Carrie Rodriguez has outgrown playing second fiddle to Chip "I Wrote 'Wild Thing'" Taylor. For Seven Angels on a Bicycle (Back Porch), Taylor served as Rodriguez's songwriting partner, but she stepped from sharing duties to the forefront and found her own voice on the beautifully crafted and genre-spanning debut. – Michael Bertin


12mid, Friends O'Death's junkyard jamboree encompasses all, from the Appalachian hollers invoked by their name to the New York experimental folk scene that birthed the group. Last year's self-released debut, Head Home, exploded stark banjo lines and gypsy fiddle with unsettling, chanted harmonies and manic percussion that only hinted at the driving punk fury unleashed by the sextet live. Like Deliverance on meth. – Doug Freeman

Blue Cheer

12mid, Emo's Annex What Doesn't Kill You ... is an appropriate title for the latest smoke-fueled slab from San Francisco warhorses Blue Cheer. Their 1968 debut, Vincebus Eruptum, and its skull-splitting cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues," ushered in the era of hard rock power trios, but guitarist Leigh Stephens' subsequent departure undermined their career. The current Cheer lineup features original bassist Dickie Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley with the group's guitarist of almost two decades, Duck MacDonald. – Greg Beets

Tapes 'n Tapes

12mid, Cedar Door This Minneapolis quartet was the buzz band at SXSW 06, riding on the strength of (then) hard-to-get debut, The Loon. Getting equally strong buzz, thanks to bloggers posting illicit MP3s online, follow-up Walk It Off, due in early April, reveals more of TnT's genre-busting indie-punk, now with more swagger. – Melanie Haupt

Kid Sister

12:10am, Emo's Main Hip-hop has given us anthems about custom cars and custom sneakers, but new single from Chicago's Kanye West protégé Kid Sister is the first ode to custom-painted finger and toenails. The sister of Flosstradamus' J2K has a speedy countrified flow reminiscent of Chicago crew Crucial Conflict, releasing her upcoming Koko B. Ware on Downtown Records (Mos Def, Gnarls Barkley). (Also: Saturday, March 15, 11:20pm @ Volume.) – Thomas Fawcett


12:30am, Vice Ubiquitous. Revolutionary. Vegan. Since Moby sold his songs to American Express, electronic music has never been the same. Lately, the New York DJ/composer scored a 2007 film, Southland Tales, and, in a bid to recapture his club cred, the Mobster has released Last Night (Mute), a retro-tastic "love letter to dance music" in NYC. – Dan Oko

Rosie Flores

12:45am, Lamberts Patio Now back in Austin after prolific stints in L.A. and Nashville, Flores continues to delight with her tried-and-true mix of, roots rock, honky-tonk, and Latina charm. A red-hot guitar picker and accomplished songwriter, Flores' latest nonholiday album is 2004's Single Rose, a lovely, live solo acoustic affair. – Jay Trachtenberg

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

12:45am, Habana Calle 6 SSLYBY plies pop music so tight it hurts. The lilting sincerity of 2005's self-released Broom befitted the Springfield, Mo., quartet's Midwestern, everyman roots in crafting one of the most surprising debuts of the year. Their upcoming sophomore LP for Polyvinyl, Pershing, glistens with more maturity and polish. – Doug Freeman


12:45am, Red 7 Patio Most purists wouldn't categorize Bergen, Norway's Enslaved as black metal, and with good reason. Since forming in 1991, no other band has pushed the genre's limitations quite like them. The quintet's latest, Ruun (Candlelight), which won the Norwegian Grammy for Best Metal Album in 2006, delves into post-rock atmospherics, with acoustic interludes and symphonic undertones crashing up against monolithic hailstorms, making the blacker, bleaker moments all the more brutal. – Austin Powell


12:50am, Emo's Main With the possible exception of Ghostface, nobody has made selling cocaine sound so good as the Virginia Beach duo of brothers Malice and Pusha T. The crack rap kingpins' 2006 Neptunes-produced Hell Hath No Fury (Star Trak) remains among the best hip-hop albums in recent years, with cold-blooded tales of pushing powder heightened by sinister stripped-down beats. As Pusha T raps, this isn't "Pac inspired; it's crackpot inspired." – Thomas Fawcett


1am, Spiros A noise-punk scene in ... Paris? Oui, and it doesn't hurt that Cheveu's singer warbles like Mark E. Smith on Valium. The trio's savage art-rock debut drops on French label Born Bad soon and in the States later this year, but catch them live to see what's bubbling out of the French underground. It's sticky. (Also: Saturday, March 15, 11:20pm @ Bourbon Rocks Patio.) – Audra Schroeder


1am, Emo's Annex Nineteen years ago, Eddie Spaghetti and his posse unleashed their furious mix of rock, metal, and country on Seattle, but the band got lost in the grunge tsunami. Having done time on the road, burned through drummers, and covered Thin Lizzy and OutKast, the foursome still takes no prisoners. An album on the Supersuckers' own label is due this year. – Dan Oko

Atlas Sound

1am, Prague The solo project of Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox, Atlas Sound layers the Atlanta group's experimental reverb on latest LP Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel (Kranky). Cox drifts between trancey ambience and vocal wooze with the same unconscious anxiety that made Deerhunter's Cryptograms such a perplexing listen. – Audra Schroeder

Tommy Womack

1am, Stephen F's Bar In 2005, former Bis-quits guitar-slingers and songwriters Tommy Womack and Will Kimbrough gathered a band, called themselves Daddy, and recorded the hilariously rocking and sorely underheard Live at Women's Club. It was a welcome return for Womack, who had all but abandoned music, as was last year's solo offering, There, I Said It! (Cedar Creek), which confronted the unglamorous reality of a day job as only Womack can. – Doug Freeman

Magic Christian

1am, B.D. Riley's Former Flamin' Groovies head Cyril Jordan leads this Bay Area quartet of power-pop all-stars, which also features Blondie drummer Clem Burke and former Austinite Eddie Muñoz (Plimsouls, Skunks) on bass. The meaty, beaty buzz of songs like "Too Close to Zero" and "Turn Up the Heat" is a cinch to curry the favor of Badfinger fans everywhere. If that doesn't move you, their tasteful covers arsenal will. – Greg Beets


1am, Stubb's Though 2004's Fly or Die was a quintessential middler, N.E.R.D.'s SXSW showcase that year was a stone blast. The live band offspring of production superduo the Neptunes emerges from exile this spring with a new album (N.3.R.D.) and an opening slot on the Kanye West tour. If the break, boom, and bleat of lead single "Everyone Nose" is any indication, they haven't lost their touch. – Greg Beets


1:15am, Red 7 Torche's awesomely titled upcoming Hydra Head debut, Meanderthal, might just be what finally sends the Sunshine State crashing into the ocean. The Miami quartet, ex-members of Florida sludge legends Floor and Cavity, builds the doom and remains very attached to those Orange amps but bumps up the hookage on their latest. You'll get a contact high just watching them. – Audra Schroeder

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