8pm, Galaxy Room
Atlanta's growly Howlies are the odd Yanks out in this otherwise all-UK (and former territories) lineup that borders on the sterling whilst still pounding the hypermelodic beejeezus out of every Radio 6 subgenre other than post-punk hip-pop. TheSixtyOne.com's virtual music monarchy is home to Toy Horses, whose elegant mix of pop-centric love songs and abrasive wit keep the sordid little world – but not love – at an arm's length. South London's Findlay Brown sports a coif culled from the Kill Uncle-era Moz, but his melodramatic single "Love Will Find You" recalls no one so much as Roy Orbison (who was, let's face it, his generation's Morrissey). Kiwi songstress Gin Wigmore's given name sounds like something Peter Jackson coughed up, but her soulful pipes are anything but middle-Earthy. Rose Elinor Dougall is a Mancunian whose breakout track is, breathily, "Another Version of Pop Song." Finally, Art Brutist Eddie Argos' new outfit Everybody Was in the French Resistance ... Now! stages a splendid war against mediocre eyebrows and Top of the Pops pomposity and wins yet again. – Marc Savlov
8pm, Galaxy Room Backyard
Santa Monica's favorite radio station gets all international on us. Sweet and tender songwriter Soko is Parisian twee heartache served au jus, all lush, love-struck sweetness and dark, while the Choir of Young Believers calls Copenhagen home and incites action/reaction with dream-pop theatrics. London's Fanfarlo landed on NPR's "Music for Book Lovers," possibly due to the fact its frontman is named Balthazar and the group's music is suitably angsty for aspiring Romeos and Juliets alike. L.A.'s legendary Latin-punks Ozomatli is a riot waiting to happen (but you knew that already, didn't you, Austin?). Ever feel like pitching a Fitz & the Tantrums? Their Los Angeleno retro-rock (circa 1965) is pure pop for then-people, a matching skinny-suited mash-up of Motown, Farfisa organics, and post-hepcat rockability. Miike Snow is two-thirds Swedish beatmastery and one-third all-American electro-pop, an unstoppably stylish combination that's drawn the attention of every remixer from "most stylish man in the UK" Mark Ronson to Savage Skulls. Proof, if any were needed, that ABBA was no fluke. – Marc Savlov
Autumn Owls' moody alt-rock is as thick as the mists and deep as the quartet's Dublin roots. Hunt the hare and turn her down the rocky road to find the Coronas, whose exuberant indie pop beat out U2 for Best Irish Album in the Meteor Ireland Music Awards. In Dublin next arrived, Dark Room Notes' fresh alterno-electronica is exactly where it belongs, leading their generation by the hand to the musical euphoria of 1980s MTV. Villagers is Conor J. O'Brien, and his poetic compositions evoke Jeff Buckley. And So I Watch You From Afar rose from Belfast roots, cranked up the volume, kicked away the microphone, and now aims its instro-rock right in the gut. The power-pop twist of Belfast's General Fiasco sends the hare running all the way back down to Dublin, whack-fo-lol-de-rol! Make sure there's plenty o' whiskey in the jar. – Margaret Moser
The promotion machine known as Live Nation celebrates the Latino acts under its umbrella. DJ-driven Telephunken of Spain mashes up rock, jazz, flamenco, electronica, funk, and anything else it can get its hands on. The relentless bump-bump-bump of Colombia's Bomba Estéreo adds tropical cumbia (or cumbia caribe) beats to the mix, which rhyme sublimely with Liliana Saumet's malleable vocals. Fellow Colombian export and hip-hop trio ChocQuibTown breaks a sweat early with an electrifying horn backup, while Mexico's 60 Tigres, stamping its SXSW passport for the third time, bridges funk, punk, and disco. Stalwart of the evening, Maldita Vecindad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio of Mexico City is a true party-into-the-night-band if there ever were one, featuring the twin rhythms of ska and rock. – Belinda Acosta
Los Angeles' Prosthetic Records seems to relish pushing black metal into ever more experimental directions: doomier, stonier, progier, mathier. Local openers Lions of Tsavo follow suit on their new EP, Swarm of All the Unholy. Denver's complex grinders Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire scorch the earth, while L.A.'s (slightly) more melodic the Funeral Pyre turns what's left to ashes. Book of Black Earth breaks from the studio, where the Seattle fourpiece is bludgeoning The Cold Testament, follow-up to 2008's epic and unapologetically church-baiting Horoskopus, into form. Carrying on sans recently retired founding member and co-vocalist Chris Freeman, Atlanta's Withered enters a new era for its stoner-tinged, intellectual black metal before Phoenix's Landmine Marathon takes a more classical approach to its death/thrash mix, as proved by its freshly unleashed Sovereign Descent. The night comes full circle with the pure math rock of Houston's Scale the Summit. Expect a set drawing heavily on last year's searing, soaring, post-prog Carving Desert Canyons. – Richard Whittaker
7:30pm, Mohawk Patio
Metal lifestyles no longer necessitate neck tattoos and temper-management issues, but Action! PR's mom and pop, Carl Schultz and Veronica Vallado, own a few black metal Ts, yes. Philly had him (former Relapse), and NYC had the S.A. girl (ex-Roadrunner), but now Austin calls them home, which facilitates business with hometown heroes the Sword. Young Iowa fivepiece Mondo Drag opens the throwdown with New Rituals (Alive), dropped in January with helicopter psych, its beating wings of phasing guitar and organ still baking into a hardened crust. Naam, Brooklyn's Ryan Lugar, John Bundy, and Eli Pizzuto, hit in October with its debut on neighboring freak beaters Tee Pee Records, the trio's Kingdom an event horizon of black hole guitar. Bowing in 2008 on Metal Blade with Quiet Earth, which chugs riffs like the Vancouver quartet quaffs beers, Bison B.C. thinks as epic as prehistoric predecessor Mastodon, with twin Lizzy corollaries and a hardcore fifth gear with vocals to match. Indianapolis' doom trio the Gates of Slumber oiled its wrought iron with motoring exhaust last September on fourth LP Hymns of Blood and Thunder, from Lee Dorrian's UK indie, Rise Above. Voice of Saturn, on Zoroaster's Terminal Doom Records, looks for a follow-up this summer on E1 Music, the Atlanta trio a sinkhole of Southern sludge, while Montreal's Priestess leans toward Georgians Baroness' lean and clean with fall defoliation Prior to the Fire (Tee Pee). Crowning them all are Action! PR overlords High on Fire, whose title track to their own E1 Music debut, Snakes for the Divine, sums up metal's evolution in one phrase from the Oakland trio's thresher Matt Pike: "Rise up, fall down."
– Raoul Hernandez
8pm, Red 7 Patio
Judging from set times, this showcase's sponsors are locked in death-grip symbiosis, Philly metallurgists Relapse Records scheduling several blink-and-you'll-miss-it short sets and metal/indie video site Roxwel.com able to replay the performance mayhem. Dallas fourpiece Kill the Client breaks from writing immolating grindcore for its Relapse introduction, while Austin trio Mammoth Grinder won't need more than 20 minutes to debut December label bow Extinction of Humanity, "Frozen" rage from its punk/metal core. Providence, R.I., quartet Howl works more belch into its "bong-ripping labyrinth metal," coming to LP in May, in contrast to Graves of Valor out of South Carolina, whose double-axe death metal blort bled out the quintet's '09 full-length, Salarian Gate. Sleeper "hit" of last year, Tombs' inside-out crypt-kicker Winter Hours imbedded icy atmospherics in the Brooklyn trio's hardcore metal expulsion, projectile an apt descriptor for actor/comic Brian Posehn's metallic wit. Shoring up any showcase shortness of breath is Montreal's metal cult Voivod, with a meaty headlining (and no Jason Newsted live) taken from Infini. A metal grinder's live delight ripe for rebroadcast. – Raoul Hernandez
Entering its fourth year, the Girls Rock Camp Austin has graduated from just another summer music school to an important social and emotional network for our next generation of female musicians. For its Fest showcase, it's landed a pretty sweet ladies night. Los Angeles teens Kitten have "the next Yeah Yeah Yeahs" written all over them, and Norway's Cocktail Slippers have a vice grip on girl-group-via-Ramones. Local trio Ume, led by note-shredder Lauren Larson, melds punk and thrash with the utmost restraint; Australian quintet Beaches checks in with winding canyons of psych-pop from an upcoming self-titled LP. The face-off between Atlanta girl-gang the Coathangers and Tennessee country teasers Those Darlins should result in a few new definitions of the Dirty South.
– Audra Schroeder
8pm, Maggie Mae's
Decades of musical inscrutability from the artist/management tandem of Neil Young and Elliot Roberts results in equal doses for the A&R recruitment of their label, Vapor Records. Cincinnati's Lost in Holland, ex-Marine infantry leader Joshua Hisle and Linda Ronstadt's son Michael on cello, mourns second disc The Last Great Loss with brave, string-edged songwriting, while Calabasas, Calif., quartet Infantree – as in redwoods, not U.S. ground units – weaves piano, mandolin, and acoustic guitars into a deep, harmonic, CSNY sweet spot on 2009's Tree-P. Jason Yates' self-titled sophomore LP siphons off smoldering songcraft honed in the five-year Hammond B-3 organ employ of Ben Harper's Innocent Criminals, even as British Columbian co-ed quintet Jets Overhead serves up its own second-helping CD, 2009's No Nations, a AAA maturation of the Wallflowers' hooky atmospherics. Closer Everest, an L.A. fivepiece with its sophomore album, On Approach, due in April, ups that ante with Topanga Canyon rock ("Trees"), but headliner Pegi Young, label founder Neil's possible better half – and charter member of the No. 2 club here, with the forthcoming Foul Deeds following up her 2007 Warner Bros. debut – gets by at SX with help from friends Ben Keith (steel), Rick Rosas (bass), and Anthony "Sweet Pea" Crawford (badassery). Vaporized. – Raoul Hernandez
8pm, the Parish
If SXSW were the Olympics, Scotland ought to have Glaswegian Tommy Reilly carry the team flag into the opening ceremonies. A 20-year-old singing sensation with folksy talent, Reilly won the Orange UnsignedAct contest in January 2009, taking home a deal with A&M. Chiptune wunderkind Unicorn Kid twiddles his bleeps and blips for your entertainment, while the dramatic Codeine Velvet Club offers up wall-of-sound retro-pop tunes, starring Jon Lawler of the Fratellis and femme fatale Lou Hickey, on the band's self-titled 2009 debut. Edinburgh's barely-whiskered We Were Promised Jetpacks has grown in leaps and bounds in the past year, with ironclad, urgent grooves evidenced on the quartet's '09 debut, These Four Walls (FatCat). Labelmates and touring buddies Frightened Rabbit follow with their uniquely Scottish indie rock, rain-soaked and cranky. The Selkirk quintet just released The Winter of Mixed Drinks, the highly anticipated follow-up to the band's stateside breakthrough, 2008's The Midnight Organ Fight. Hudson Mohawke tops off the night with cheeky electronica from his Warp debut release, Butter. – Melanie Haupt
8pm, La Zona Rosa
Rappers come to SXSW from far and wide, but Texas hip-hop has the muscle to hold down its home turf. This Lone Star showcase starts with San Angelo's Big Sid, recently signed to Asylum Records and with a Slim Thug-featured hit, "Streets Love Me," that's got the Internet goin' nuts. He's followed by the 1-2 punch of San Antonio's King of Texas, Kyle Lee, and Question?, whose Rehab dropped last May and blends underground lyricism with big Texas style. The League of Extraordinary Gz, Austin's potent lyrical concoction of Southbound, Dred Skott, and C.O.D, recently torched the south side with its Concealed Weapons mixtape. Dallas' Fat Pimp, fresh off his 1980s mixtape Bad As I Wanna Be, and gruff J Kapone, who's putting final touches on the long awaited Hustle Hard, make way for the bubblegum rap of Dallas' Dorrough. Hearne product and ATXer-by-association Chalie Boy is still basking in the success of last year's "I Look Good," while Houston's Trae, shilling this month's Tha Truth, spits ghetto gospel. The candy paint of H-Town kingpins Chamillionaire and Paul Wall leaves the final mark. – Chase Hoffberger
8pm, Encore Patio
Spanish bombs will be dropping right and left with this hard-rocking national showcase. Borrowing its name from novelist Dashiell Hammett, Malaga's Tom Cary stormed SXSW last year on its way around the world in support of its Steve Albini-helmed 2008 debut. Between Cary's primitive boogie and English lyrics, the garage-rock trio bows to the Stooges and Jim Morrison. Hailing from Barcelona, veterans Nudozurdo represent another end of the post-punk spectrum. In Spanish, they eschew screaming for more melodic jousts. Pop-rockers Amaral fill stadiums back in Spain, led by the sultry Eva Amaral. This Madrid-based duo has opened for Lenny Kravitz and Bob Dylan in Europe and released a live double-album/DVD last year, La Barrera del Sonido (Gatorama Music). Contributing additionally to this conflagration are the Unfinished Symphony, modern rock fresh from Toronto's Canadian Music Fest; the synth-happy Los Planetas, a Brit-influenced next wave fivepiece from Granada; and the genre-busting sonidos of Madrid's rumba-rapper Huecco. – Dan Oko
8pm, Mi Casa Cantina
Nuevo Latin tastemakers Remezcla.com curate the bill, and BMI foots it. The result: 21st century Spanish-speaking repurposing. Local quintet Maneja Beto follows up its pair of LPs and most recent EP with another one, this month's Tragedias, a cumbia lounge of electro slither and rattle. Baptized for the patron saint of musicos, L.A. sixpiece La Santa Cecilia matches its song output to its membership, last year's six-song EP – in uniquely hand-painted and sequined sleeves – two-stepping it cumbia-style through the Americas on the bilingual vocal décolletage of Marisoul. Palenke Soultribe boogies another Angel city cumbia mover, only this trio of Colombians, J. Borda and Andres Erazo and Andres Zuluaga, trips the funk breakers Prodigy-style, last year's beating Oro, the first LP of a proposed trilogy, guesting electro deviants Kinky. Two guitars, bajo, and bateria
populate Mexico's Vicente Gayo, all four Gayoans listed on both voz and sintetizador, which accounts for the quartet's 11 songs in 27 minutes, slick studio sizzle ribbed with Touch and Go riffs. Stations of pogo. Showcase vets Volovan also hold Mexican passports, the 12-year-old trio stamped with radio-ready power Latinate found on last year's Hogar (Universal). Bronx-born Domincan Maluca bomps the buzz last, her Fader debut last SXSW rocked by the electro-merengue of her debut girl spank, "El Tigeraso." Rico. – Raoul Hernandez
8pm, Club de Ville
Since being founded in 2004, BrooklynVegan has become New York's tastemaker. Testament, then, to the blog's clout that its showcase presents bands as distant and disparate as L.A.'s Laurel Canyon rejuvenators Dawes and Norway's Serena-Maneesh. The Scandinavians headline with the throbbing abrasion of their new Can-meets-My Bloody Valentine sophomore album, No. 2: Abyss in B Minor (4AD), literally recorded in a cave outside Oslo. From the opposite end of the globe and musical spectrum, Australia's the Middle East resurrects its mesmerizing chamber folk with the reissue of subtle and beautifully strummed EP The Recordings of the Middle East, while Luke Temple's Here We Go Magic expands on the lush psych-folk of its eponymous debut (Austin's Western Vinyl) with a solidified quintet and a jump to Secretly Canadian. North Carolina trio Bowerbirds continues to flutter in the folk-pop breeze of sophomore LP Upper Air (Dead Oceans), the guitar/accordion combo of couple Phil Moore and Beth Tacular shimmering unassumingly translucent. Labelmate Califone grounds its distinct sound in avant-bent roots, the Chicago quartet's electronic textures cutting against the haunting Americana dirge of ninth album All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, the perfect transition into Serena-Maneesh's dark barrage. – Doug Freeman
Seven years on and the ghost of Joe Strummer still stalks festivals from Glastonbury to Sixth Street. Strummerville, the foundation founded by his friends and colleagues following the Clashman's death, has undertaken a variety of progressive projects, from providing guitars for prison inmates to offering a Web-based launchpad for unsigned musicians. Activist/poet/legend Billy Bragg headlines and pulls together old hands and tenderfoots to increase Strummerville's visibility. The bill includes recent SXSW regular Sam Duckworth, who performs as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Less polished but no less intriguing is satirical mystery performer Beans on Toast, whose acoustic ode to cocaine might be the funniest love song we've heard this century. Arrive early enough to catch Wayne Kramer, a founding member of the proto-punk Detroit outfit MC5, who is polishing a keenly anticipated new album. Rounding out the hootenanny are guitar-slinging newcomer Nat Jenkins, Foo Fighter (and filmmaker) Chris Shiflett, and multinational roots-rock quartet Smoky Angle Shades, making its U.S. debut. – Dan Oko
7:40pm, Red Eyed Fly
¡Viva Jonneine Zapata! The L.A.-based singer-songrocker has been called "the closest thing to Jim Morrison in the Silverlake scene" by the L.A. Record. Her debut, Cast the Demons Out, was recorded with Steve Albini, yet comparisons to David Yow are, um, uncomfortable for all involved. Elle Bandita is like a sex-mad dream of electro-punk synth ripped straight out of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill by way of Rotterdam (more vowels) and the exploitation underground (less filling). The Ghost of a Thousand is probably a QT fan, too, but its paint-stripping screamcore squall is more knees, toes, teeth-down-your-throat brutal than even fellow UK thrashers Gallows. Local megaroarers Lions, notably named 2008's best new underground band in High Times' Doobie Awards, have come to chew wildebeest and kick ass, and they're all outta wildebeest. – Marc Savlov
8pm, Continental Club
Sirius XM's Outlaw Country channel joins with Sin City Social Club, the alt.country collective that stretches between Los Angeles, Austin, and Nashville, for a rambunctious night of twangy rock. A quartet, yet with a much bigger sound, Austin's Shurman released its second album, Still Waiting for the Sunset (Sustain), in January. The feisty, indomitable Sarah Borges leads the Broken Singles straight out of their Boston garage. The group's latest, The Stars Are Out (Sugar Hill), moves from previous country leanings and finely fashioned originals to covers from NRBQ and the Lemonheads. Locally, Jesse Dayton is a country-soul brother, but Rob Zombie dubbed him Captain Clegg for the movie H2. Dayton appeared in the howlfest, composed music for its soundtrack, and toured with Zombie under that moniker last year. Voted Best Roots Rock Band at the 2007 Austin Music Awards, the Mother Truckers are as high-spirited as country music allows. Snaky guitars and snarky lyrics match the unadorned harmonies of bandleaders Josh Zee and Teal Collins on their hip-shaking Let's All Go to Bed (Funzalo). With a voice as big and smooth as any 1950s crooner, Raul Malo has captivated audiences worldwide. His latest, Lucky One (Fantasy), found him reconnecting with his country side, closer to Roy Orbison than Dean Martin. – Jim Caligiuri
8pm, Beauty Bar and Beauty Bar Backyard
Like a summit of quirky indie kids, three of the States' most eclectically tripped, DIY labels combine with Germany's equally unbridled Tomlab for a contorted pop showdown. Tomlab's internationals bolster the two-stager, starting with Toronto's Mantler, who winds downtempo harmonies across his Wurlitzer for upcoming fourth album Monody. German chanteuse Niobe upends her noir vocals with twisted electro effects, counter to the pop explosions of UK-based quartet Munch Munch. Diamond Rings smears androgynous 1980s-eyeliner pop from Toronto in the outside headlining spot. Olympia, Wash., powerhouse imprint K Records sandwiches the evening with French quartet L'Orchidée d'Hawaï's bizarre Japanese-tinged surfer licks starting outside, Angelo Spencer unloading the twang-fuzzed instrumentals of new Et Les Hauts Sommets, and Jeremy Jay's Slow Dance of synthy twee dreaming nostalgically innocent inside. Asthmatic Kitty spins Jookabox, David Adamson's crazed Why?-esque, genre-ripping rhythms explored on recent Dead Zone Boys, while San Diego's Rafter demands the dance floor with the feverish pop of Animal Feelings. Sounds Familyre brings the best-known contingent, helmed by the always enigmatic Danielson. Not be overlooked, however, are the Stephin Merritt-styled croonings of Ben + Vesper on latest LuvInIdleness and the young femme quartet Ortolan, merging Feist with the Blow on debut LP Time on a String.
– Doug Freeman
8pm, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room
Next Big Nashville is a mini SXSW, a conference and music festival held in Music City every fall. Tonight's artists illustrate the noncountry side of Nashville's scene, starting with the smart pop and big, clear voice of Madi Diaz. Releasing several discs of darling melodies and inventive arrangements, including the latest EP, Ten Gun Salute, Diaz landed a song on CBS' Ghost Whisperer. Ten Out of Tenn is a Nashville music collective spotlighting the city's singer-songwriter community through compilation CDs and occasional tours. That's resulted in song placement on numerous television programs and movies, as well as tours with R.E.M., Sarah McLachlan, and John Mayer. Often placed in the lofty company of Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen, Matthew Perryman Jones possesses a poet's voice and a knack for gentle-hearted moods. Trained at Berklee, the Young Republic presents a skillful mix of jazz, blues, and folk. Signed only in Europe to End of the Road Records, the quintet's latest, Balletesque, proved raveworthy in the British press. The Ettes hail originally from L.A. but helmed their third LP, Do You Want Power, in Nashville with Memphis hero Greg Cartwright, stamping a fuzzbox heart on traditional garage rock.
– Jim Caligiuri
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