SXSW Friday Showcases

Friday night's SX showcases are bar-the-door-Katy good

Wild Flag
Wild Flag

Merge Records

Endtables
Endtables

7:30pm, the Parish

Ladies of a certain age are no doubt squealing about Wild Flag, the "supergroup" of Mary Timony, Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, and the Minders' Rebecca Cole. They don't have an album just yet, but trust in the punk pedigree. They're the cherry atop Merge's showcase showdown, and the rest of the sundae ain't bad either. Baltimore duo Wye Oak's third and latest, Civilian, melts sweet, dreamy folk and offers a sugar high to 1990s guitar heroes Versus, which reawakened after a 10-year hiatus with last year's dark-hued On the Ones and Threes. Mark Eitzel's American Music Club has been keeping things pastoral for more than two decades now, and makes a rare appearance to play sad songs for happy people. Split the difference between Seattle's Telekinesis and L.A.'s Apex Manor, and you get one-man pop projects with wonderfully titled discs (Parallel Seismic Conspiracies and The Year of Magical Drinking, respectively). And what of recent signees Times New Viking? Love lifted the Columbus, Ohio, skuzz-pop trio up where they belong, and Dancer Equired drops in April. – Audra Schroeder

WFMU/Free Music Archive

Topping Bottoms
Topping Bottoms

8pm, Barbarella

If the thrill of eclectic discovery is what you're after, the WFMU/Free Music Archive showcase is a no-brainer. The Jersey free-form radio powerhouse's menu opens with New York's Amen Dunes (aka Damon McMahon), a one-man guitar army whose home-recorded waltzes with the ghosts of solitude are an acidified update of Galaxie 500's faraway longing. The experimental soundscapes of Brussels-based El-g combine snippets of chanteuse vocals, mechanical burbles, and post-apocalyptic static to enjoyably disconcerting effect, while former Austinite and Magic Lantern multi-instrumentalist Sun Araw delves soul-deep with a zonked-out psychedelic tribal drone that takes cues from Neil Young, Steve Reich, and, of course, Sun Ra. Louisville, Ky.'s surprisingly fertile late-1970s punk scene springs back to life as the Endtables play their first show in 25 years. Though proto-hardcore in spirit, the band's reissued recordings on Drag City are delineated by vocalist Steve Rigot's singularly mutant élan. There's a special guest at midnight, followed by Australian demolition metal collective Whitehorse, whose exquisite, slow-grind sensory assault is the perfect soundtrack for fleeing into the night at closing time. – Greg Beets

Not Not Fun

Leif Vollebekk
Leif Vollebekk

8pm, the Hideout

L.A.'s husband-and-wife label Not Not Fun fast-forwards cassette culture and DIY ethos into a full-blunted realm, capturing the city's burgeoning roster of psych, drone, and dance. NNF boss and former Pocahaunted vocalist Amanda Brown just launched a 12-inch dub/dance imprint, 100% Silk, dipping further into the ether. This showcase spotlights some recent collaborators like Minneapolis trio Daughters of the Sun; Kansas City, Mo., night stalker Umberto; France's lone High Wolf; Australia's lo-fi psych wards Blank Realm; Indiana primitivist Dylan Ettinger; Japanese weirdos Topping Bottoms; and Iowa crop duster Taterbug. – Audra Schroeder

Le Festival International de Jazz de Montreal Showcase

Zukunasisters
Zukunasisters

8pm, Spill

Hard rockin' closer Steve Hill (1am) has been called "the meanest guitar player in Canada," as his ferocious blues rock will attest. Misteur Valaire (12mid) is a high-energy quintet whose electronic rock, hip-hop, and jazz isn't without a splash of humor. Don't miss the stage show. Random Recipe (11pm) recently put out its first full-length, Fold It! Mold It!, a playful excursion into electro-minimalist, folkified hip-hop with a feminine touch. Miracle Fortress (10pm) is the moniker of multi-instrumentalist Graham Van Pelt, who favors a Phil Spector/Beach Boys-inspired brand of indie. Captivating singer/songwriter Leif Vollebekk (9pm) has been compared to Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. Debut LP Inland, recorded in Iceland and reissued last year, casts an entrancing spell. A world traveler of Egyptian and Lebanese descent, Neema (8pm) sings with a folky pop clarity that caught the ear of Leonard Cohen, who, in turn, helped produce and provide artwork for her new release, Watching You Think. – Jay Trachtenberg

Japan Nite

Hong Kong Blood Opera
Hong Kong Blood Opera

8pm, Elysium

Japan Nite's a sure bet you'll see something you've never seen before, unless you're talking about the Ramones-inspired Lolita No. 18, who have played almost every other Japan Nite. But even when the bands' influences are so blatant – and this year they almost all are – the Japanese still have a knack for making things entirely their own. Or maybe it's unexpected because we're so narrow-minded. Whatever the explanation, Japan Nite is usually a trip. Exhibit A: Zukunasisters. Part Honeycomb, part Stovall Sisters, they sound like they stepped out of 1974, probably from a Caddy and with a gangster lean and all. White White Sisters (no relation) mimic the collage skills of countryman Cornelius but err more on the house side of the sounds. While Meishinchou's Hystoic Vein dress like they took Mr. McGuire's advice in The Graduate ("Plastics") to heart (and torso and legs), they thrash about in their garage fury because their parents maybe didn't love them enough. Lastly, show closers Mo'Some Tonebender must have the most awesome SST record collection in all of Tokyo. – Michael Bertin

Intolerancia

Kosha Dillz
Kosha Dillz

8pm, Habana Bar Backyard

Eclectic, nostalgic, ear-bending, and in-your-face is the best way to describe this evening heavy on punk with solid rock as a tent pole. The four rocker cowboys known as Capo (Mexico City) rev up the night with their classic rock and psychedelia using endearing lo-fi effects. Mexico's the Hong Kong Blood Opera intensifies its punk by shifting and grinding gears with no fear and no apologies. Their "Fuck All DJs" is the kind of ookie-cool that sets them apart from other run-of-the-mill punk bands. Circuit bending by synth-heavy Vicente Gayo (also of Mexico City) is a nice addition to the night, as are Colombian Latin rockers Doctor Krápula. Returning to SX via Guadalajara is Descartes a Kant, whose sweet-and-sour rants are best represented by "My Sweetest Headache Waltz." Closing the night is Estados Alterados from Colombia, an electric rock band that veers toward the experimental, yet somehow remains accessible and familiar. – Belinda Acosta

Think Tank Hip-Hop

Freddie Gibbs
Freddie Gibbs

8pm, the Marq

Here's a showcase that just might be assembled inexplicably enough to match its eccentricities. Pittsburgh-via-Baltimore throwbacker J. Sands kicks things off on the shoulders of his recent boot-knocking mixtape LL Cool J. Sands. He's preceded by "Black Skatepunk" enthusiast Labtekwon, a fellow Baltimorean, and followed by north Jersey product Kosha Dillz, whose 2009 Beverly Dillz drew laughs like breaths. On a conscious tip, ATX originals Blacklisted Individuals have spoken out against domestic violence and civil oppression for more than 10 years now, while recent transplants Riders Against the Storm, a husband/wife duo originally from Providence, R.I., echo Blacklisted's sentiment on last year's diverse and not-at-all Texan Speak the Truth. NOLA street poet Truth Universal raps on Riders Against the Storm's wavelength throughout last year's Self Determination. Rounding out the local bunch are Aggressive Soul scene chroniclers Crew54 and mixtape madman Zeale Rapz, still buzzing from October's Disasterkrft. Headlining this melting pot of underground hip-hop are New York City's Ivy League philosopher Homeboy Sandman and Strange Famous poppa doc Sage Francis. – Chase Hoffberger

Hardly Art

La Sera
La Sera

8pm, Red 7

Think of Hardly Art as the red-headed stepchild of the Sub Pop family, slightly neglected and a little rougher around the edges. L.A.'s Colleen Green becomes a one-woman girl group on her debut EP, Green One + 3, four-track heartbreak set to a drum machine. The Moondoggies might be the odd ones out here, but the quartet's soft-focus contemplation on 2010's Tidelands blends right in with the pastoral folk that's been cropping up in the Pacific Northwest these recent years. Oakland, Calif., brats Hunx & His Punx, led by leopard-Speedo-sportin' Gravy Train!!!! frontman Seth Bogart, chases its Gay Singles compilation with label debut Too Young To Be in Love. Imagine the Grease soundtrack high on fumes and set in a red-light district. Cracked Love & Other Drugs, the title of Unnatural Helpers' second LP, makes for an apt summation of the band's primal grit. Led by drummer/vocalist and Sub Pop employee Dean Whitmore, Unnatural Helpers cracks pipes like early grunge, a sweaty haze of two-minute punk gems with bemused R&B. Fergus & Geronimo trek similar terrain on the recent Unlearn, with Denton swagger plus Brooklyn cred and a knack for doo-wop. Vivian Girl Katy Goodman closes with the fuzzy pop swoon of her new project, La Sera. – Austin Powell

Billboard en Español

Gepe
Gepe

8pm, Prague

In case you're wondering, this is where the party is. Colombia's Diva Gash brings it old-school with its mash-up of funk, disco, electronic back beats, and hip-hop rhymes. Chile's Gepe can go clean and simple or surprisingly energetic, as in "Samoriserva," which has a classic U.S.-country-music feel. The rest of the time, they entice with a seamless fusion of Chilean folkloric percussion and electronica. Mexico City singer-songwriter Ximena Sariñana's limber voice plays well with smart, often humorous lyrics. From Colombia by way of Miami comes energetic Locos Por Juana, whose reggae-influenced funk over Latin rhythms is just what the doctor ordered. They're a nice pairing with the superheroes of cumbia, Chico Trujillo (Chile). With heavy doses of ska, this one-time side project of La Floripondio makes good use of rough-hewn horns and throaty group vocals. And, as if that's not enough, the delightful Afro-Colombian fusion known as Profetas will hip-hop you into the wee hours of the night. – Belinda Acosta

Sounds From Spain

Telephunken
Telephunken

8pm, Red Eyed Fly

Texas' topography parallels that of Spain, but be careful this sure-bet showcase doesn't topple the Red Eyed Fly backward into Waller Creek. Valencia fivepiece Polock (8pm) plies transcontinental cosmo pop in the mold of Phoenix, which is airtight on August debut Getting Down From the Trees. The Warholian rock panache of Bilbao trio Capsula (9pm) made global inroads at SXSW 2010, while Barcelona's Mujeres (10pm) span everything from a Big Star name check ("Right On") to Bostonian garage rock from Nuggets and flat-out spank ("Blood Meridian"). Tres de Madrid: Plucking a conceptual dreamscape out of disc two, Nubes de Papel (Paper Clouds), strides Depedro (Jairo Zavala, 11pm), a Calexico cohort. Zavala's Spanish-language sensuousness hints at Señor Caetano Veloso. Lourdes Hernández, aka Russian Red (12mid), works Southern soul from Cat Power to Dusty Springfield via this spring's sophomore effort, Home Tonight. Spanish nu-funk then crowns the bill as Telephunken (1am) gives all Latin-American Nortec Collectives a run for their pesos with a Spanish sloganeering shot through break beats and cantina strum. All save for Polock & Russian Red have another SX Festival showcase slot, including the Sounds of Spain day party Thursday at Brush Square Park, 11:30am. – Raoul Hernandez

Biz 3

7:50pm, Emo's Main

At least one of your favorite rappers keeps Biz 3 on the payroll. More impressive than its work handling logistics for established draws like Freddie Gibbs and the Cool Kids, the Chicago-based publicity agency has made a name as an exceptional talent curator. Evidence lies in opener L.E.P. Bogus Boys, a Chicago outfit flipping Midwest soul on gangster rap with October's Don't Feed Da Killas Volume 3. Twin Cities native Prof brandishes otherworldly weirdness on "Animal" and recently got the ultimate call-up when he guested on Atmosphere's new single, "Minnesota Nice." Columbus, Ohio, troublemaker Blueprint has Adventures in Counter Culture ready for an April release. L.A. glam-house DJ Skrillex, who's sure to turn things up a notch, handles the intermission between new and known. Afterward, Asher Roth & Nottz ditch the college scene for the underground on the Rawth EP, Gibbs and the Cool Kids spit stoned gangsterisms, and enigmatic Brooklyn trio Das Racist redefines conscious rap after last year's two mixtapes, Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man. – Chase Hoffberger

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Thursday Interview

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Merge, WFMU, Not Not Fun, Dirtnap, Japan Nite, Hardly Art, Billboard, Biz 3

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