The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Showcases


March 20, 2009, Music

The Agency Group

8pm, Back Alley Social With a combined roster of more than 1,000 artists, the Agency Group has established itself as one of the industry's most expansive international booking agencies. The London-headquartered operation packs a blend of vibrant underground hip-hop scenes ciphering out of Minnesota and the West Coast. Thrash-hoppers Doomtree, still high from last year's self-titled debut, mosh first, before the scene gets markedly vibed out. Smooth Mick Boogie/Black Milk affiliates U-N-I and Seattle duo Common Market play ambassadors to groove, hooking into soul-sampling styles from L.A.'s Blu and Seattle's Blue Scholars. NorCal alternative lyricism is carried out by Living Legends Grouch & Eligh and headliners Zion-I, whose February release, The Take Over, is the sixth LP from DJ Amplive and MC Zumbi. Rhymesayers devotees get their licks with Brother Ali but only after NYC wild card Charles Hamilton continues his pursuit of The Perfect Life, due out this year. – Chase Hoffberger

Australian Cattle God

8pm, Room 710 This Austin label, founded in 2005, has become a stable for the weird and heavy in Texas, as evidenced by this all-local showcase. Good Times Crisis Band will likely bow new examples of its Minutemen-via-Jawbox rock, as the follow-up to its tight 2007 Cattle God debut is in the works. The thunderous Karpisms of Megazilla are documented in high style on first LP Please, Please, Sorry, Thank You, while yelpy, butch post-punkers Red X Red M are close to their debut as well. Mount a quest for the Bungle-esque with Lick Lick, as comic frontman Matt Kelly (Middlefinger, Les Saucy Pants, Sprawl) leads his crack prog-punk team down the rabbit hole. Likewise, Black Cock's brand new CD, Robot Child With a God Complex, has a touch of Mike Patton's vocal experiments layered with grimy keyboards and the ominous syncopation of the Jesus Lizard. The electro-party anthems of the venerable Pong close out the evening. – Daniel Mee


8pm, the Hideout Since forming in 2007, Autobus has become a hub for Austin's indie scene. Canopy kicks off the evening with pop pawing at the orchestration of Grizzly Bear on last year's Canopy//Anopy debut EP. Avant-garde trio the Weird Weeds cultivates minimal rock landscapes that blossomed beyond experimental shoots on excellent third LP I Miss This. Already indie-pop-certified as a member of Voxtrot and Belaire, Jason Chronis convenes a party onstage as J.C. & Co., supported by a revolving cast of Austin's elite young talent. Mark David Ashworth plies folksier terrain on ambient and Latin-tinged tunes delivered in a delicate tenor, but the night's highlights belong to Sunset and Brazos. The former harnesses the psych-pop eccentricities of former Sound Team member Bill Baird, while Brazos previews its much anticipated debut LP, which swims in Martin Crane's soulful vocals. – Doug Freeman

Suicide Squeeze

8pm, Red Eyed Fly Suicide Squeeze's bread and butter is soulful Northwestern rock from the likes of Minus the Bear and Six Parts Seven, but this year the label is highlighting new blood. Atlanta punks the Coathangers have the stark amateurism and unforced originality that mark a talented band in the middle of figuring out what the hell it's doing; the girlish, menacing Scramble drops in April. Another promising debut: Paranoid Cocoon from Cotton Jones, which mines a similar folk-pop vein to that tapped by frontman Michael Nau's old band, Page France. Human Highway, featuring Nick Thorburn of Islands, spikes the neo-folk punch with a shot of R&B energy, which you'll need in order to deal with Past Lives, the threatening new project from four-fifths of the original lineup of the Blood Brothers. (Drummer Mark Gajadhar also DJs for showcase hip-hoppers Champagne Champagne.) Jade Tree expats and Drive Like Jehu enthusiasts These Arms Are Snakes headline in support of last year's Tail Swallower and Dove. – Daniel Mee

Nancy Fly Agency

8pm, Antone's One of Austin's longest-running booking agencies, Nancy Fly specializes in all forms of Texas roots music. Fiddler Warren Hood, Champ's son, kicks things off with a splendid mix of country, swing, and bluegrass. In a town full of 'em, Redd Volkaert is arguably Austin's best guitarist, a rare combination of imagination, grit, and elegance. Bruce Robison is one of his generation's foremost song men, with the Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and Robison's wife, Kelly Willis, among the long list of country artists who have recorded his songs. A local top draw, Del Castillo has perfected a guitar-driven blend of rock, blues, and Latin sounds. Triple threat singer/songwriter/blues-guitar goddess Carolyn Wonderland proved on her 2008 release, Miss Understood, that Janis Joplin slept here. Rootsy quintet Nelo headlines. – Jim Caligiuri

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