SXSW Friday Picks & Sleepers
Friday blurbs are down from Thursday's, but how are you holding up at this point?
Noisemakers with Peter Rosenberg
9pm, the Belmont Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg is the James Lipton of the rap game, his Noisemakers live interview series going deep inside the rappers' studio. Rosenberg will sit down with Nasir Jones, one of the most gifted MCs to ever pick up a microphone. Nas, whose 1994 debut Illmatic remains on hip-hop's desert island list, will release Life Is Good, his 10th studio LP, later this year. – Thomas Fawcett
TBA, Kiss & Fly Dee-1's syrupy Southern drawl is one of the freshest young voices in hip-hop. The New Orleans native and LSU grad taught middle school in the Crescent City for two years before making beats and rhymes a full-time gig. While Dee-1 walks and talks like a Cash Money Millionaire, his content is cool but conscious: "Every rapper needs to lose they deals and earn 'em back/Most of 'em done let the industry take 'em and turn 'em wack." – Thomas Fawcett
The Black Belles
9:15pm, the Stage on Sixth Patio; Sat., 10pm, Mohawk Patio Given its high-gothic horror-movie fashion sense, the Black Belles would be a natural stand-in for Winona Ryder if a Beetlejuice sequel ever comes to fruition. The Nashville, Tenn., quartet's swirl of tremolo-heavy guitar, overdriven vintage organ tones, tribal percussion, and droll vocal delivery makes its 2011 Jack White-produced debut a real hoot. The Belles' artful rendering of the Knickerbockers' "Lies" is disorienting and catchy all at once.
– Greg Beets
8:30pm, Frank; Thu., 10pm, Beale Street Tavern The Brooklyn-based trio Hospitality gives a renewed sense of sophistication to pop music. Its self-titled debut is layered with soaring harmonies, free-wheeling guitar, and despite her Kansas City, Mo., upbringing, a touch of a British accent from frontwoman Amber Papini. – Abby Johnston
9pm, B.D. Riley's Exemplifying the idea of a "cult" band, the dB's turned out four albums in the Eighties that helped set the template for a power-pop renaissance in that decade as well as part of the Nineties. The dB's had limited commercial appeal despite the efforts of seasoned songcrafters Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, but the years have been kind to the band's reputation. The timing couldn't be better for its first new album in 30 years.
– Adam Schragin
9:15pm, Elephant Room; Thu., 12:30am, St. David's Bethell Hall Kat Edmonson perches at the peak of Austin vocalists, the jazz chanteuse swaying with a sustaining twang that lilts and slides with evocative turns. 2009 debut Take to the Sky highlighted her interpretive skills, and upcoming sophomore LP Way Down Low shines amid pop flourishes and a breathy coyness while playfully jousting with Lyle Lovett on "Long Way Home." – Doug Freeman
9:30pm, Lamberts Singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn's the Mynabirds made a deserved splash with 2010's What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, which proved classic Brill Building songcraft has a place in indie pop. It's a compelling live act, and as Burhenn preps the release of the band's ambitious sophomore record Generals, the Mynabirds bring its song back to South by Southwest for the second time. – Michael Toland
The Big Pink
10pm, Lustre Pearl; Sat., noon, Radio Day Stage, Austin Convention Center A bombastic throwback to the Madchester scene of the early Nineties, the Big Pink helms ecstatic bangers with cocksure swagger, shoegaze guitars, and overblown volume. More of a come-on than an introduction, 2009's A Brief History of Love embodied every aspect of the Brit hype machine with massive singles like "Velvet" and "Dominos." The London duo recently released its highly anticipated follow-up, Future This (4AD). – Austin Powell
10pm, Hype Hotel One of the promising new entries in the indie-folk movement, Caveman paints with pastels, drenching four-part harmonies and hazy guitars in clouds of reverb. Imagine a softer Midlake. Led by former Metropolitan Opera singer Matt Iwanusa, the NYC quintet put out CoCo Beware last year, an effort so fully formed it's being re-released later this month by Fat Possum. – Austin Powell
11pm, Red 7; Thu., 8pm, Kiss & Fly; Thu., 10pm, Hype Hotel Sub Pop is slowly emerging from its guitar-driven comfort zone, having just last year released albums by Washed Out and Shabazz Palaces. Sure, they're two already established artists, so consider Theesatisfaction the label's first homegrown project. An eclectic, Seattle-based alt-rap duo reflecting everyone from Aphex Twin to Erykah Badu, it makes the world a better place prepping an album like Awe Naturale. – Luke Winkie
11:45pm, Chevrolet Sound Garage Behind a throbbing darkwave pummel, Dead Confederate rolled out from the dusk-drenched trenches of Athens, Ga., with a feedback-laced spin on Southern rock. 2008's Wrecking Ball (Razor & Tie) and 2010's Sugar (TAO) both brandished psych-rock with a melodic lyricism, and though the quartet's members have since pursued a number of side projects (including frontman Hardy Morris' supercollaboration, Diamond Rugs), the band returns label-free with a new collection of songs. – Doug Freeman
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
1am, Saxon Pub He can base his outfit in California, plug in his guitar, and rock – really rock – the festival circuit, but when Willie Nelson's son Lukas opens his mouth, that reedy voice makes it hard to forget about dear old dad. Lukas, like his half-sister Paula Nelson, also a musician, is embracing the family DNA, sealing the deal with a bluesy cover of pop's "Peaceful Solution" on his Promise of the Real download, recorded outside of Austin, naturally.
– Dan Oko
Girl in a Coma
1am, Easy Tiger Patio; Wed., 1am, the Studio by HGTV Mighty triumvirates always win: the father, son, and Holy Ghost; The Power Puff Girls; potato, egg, and cheese; and the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María, or as we Texans like to call them, the Nina, the Jenn, and the Phanie Maria, our own personal, sultry guitar saviors. Good things come in threes, yo, and 2011's superfine Exits & All the Rest (Blackheart) is – you guessed it – the San Antonio trio's third. – Kate X Messer
Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys
1am, Continental Club The little woman with the big voice, Akina Adderley is the grandniece of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and granddaughter of trumpeter Nat Adderley. With her horn-propelled local octet, Adderley delivers old-school R&B with uncommon panache, separating them from the recent soul revival. The group has just finished recording and is set to deliver its second collection of scream and shout this spring. – Jim Caligiuri
1am, St. David's Bethell Hall With 20-plus active members, Mother Falcon is probably Austin's biggest band. It's also one of the most adventurous, mixing classical instrumentation with a modern aesthetic – a chamber orchestra accessorized with ethereal vocals. Organized by cellist, guitarist, and vocalist Nick Gregg and featuring the voice of Claire Puckett, Mother Falcon's 2011 debut Alhambra was hailed as one of the year's best for its combination of daring and romance. – Jim Caligiuri
B L A C K I E
1:15am, Hotel Vegas Mutant love child of Ol' Dirty Bastard and Black Flag-era Henry Rollins, B L A C K I E will make your ears bleed with a barrage of industrial hip-hop and noise-rock turned up to 11. It's hard to know exactly what to expect from the Houston native, but shocking intensity and deafening volume is a safe bet.
– Thomas Fawcett
8:05pm, the Stage on Sixth Patio Dirty secret of the Philly underground, Purling Hiss crossbreeds indie rock with classic-rock shred not bothering to disguise its chops under the $3 production jobs of its (mostly vinyl-only) discs. Live is where the band comes alive, Strat abuser Mike Polizze and the engine room jamming to their hearts' content like Cream after a night of beer, mud-wrestling, and trucker speed. – Michael Toland
10pm, Beso Cantina A native of Nigeria with a penchant for soul music, Bez is a rising singer-songwriter whose curious blend of jazz and R&B is difficult to pin down. "That Stupid Song" is a slick throwback taken right out of the modern soul playbook of Raphael Saadiq, but it's an anomaly on Super Sun, last year's LP, which intrigues despite being stylistically all over the map. – Thomas Fawcett
8pm, Buca Lounge Sore Losers has been one of Dallas' best-kept secrets since dropping the Free Loaders mixtape in 2009. What was once a hip-hop duo has evolved into a sixpiece band fronted by the thoughtful and introspective rhymes of Brown. The band can rock a party live, and has earned one of the most passionate fan bases around. With the release of We Are Sore Losers in February, the crew hopes to let the secret out of the bag.
– Thomas Fawcett
10pm, the Iron Bear Hold up. Debut Program 91 is named for the year they were all born? We're no stranger to youthful brilliance, but this Bergen, Norway, girl group – as a feminist, I'm only marginally disturbed about calling them that since they're 19! – has distilled just about every cool rock hook from its parents' record collections, beginning at Blondie. – Kate X Messer
Cuff the Duke
10pm, Trinity Hall Canadian roots-rockers probably hew most accurately to an alternative country identity. Hailing from Toronto, the quartet just issued its fifth album, Morning Comes, which was produced by Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor. Released in Canada late last year, it's the band's first concept LP and has been nominated for a prestigious Juno Award. – Jay Trachtenberg
10:40, Stubb's; Thu., 8pm, Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn Living proof that if you use a Ouija board properly, you can summon the ghosts of Bowery balladettes and Robert Johnson while the angels run a capella and the devil duets on banjo to create Elle King's shockingly sexy-sorrowful songsmithery. The Brooklyn-based siren has a sweetheart-with-a-knife voice that promises potentially dangerous intimacy on a grand, spooky scale. – Marc Savlov
11pm, the White Horse Hewing more toward bluegrass than she has in the past, Austinite Brennen Leigh honors traditional country sounds by making music that's high, lonesome, and loving. A Louvin Brothers fanatic, talented mandolin player, and a gem of a songwriter, Leigh's Tuesday night residency at the Evangeline Cafe enters its eighth year. Most recently, Sunny Sweeney's 2011 disc Concrete included "Amy," a tune she and Leigh co-wrote.
– Jim Caligiuri
11pm, Skinny's Ballroom With the recent addition of Jon Grossman on keys and accordion, Uncle Lucius hasn't so much expanded its Southern rock sound as embellished it with more authentic colors. The local fivepiece has turned into massive road hogs, growing its audience as far north as Chicago and as east as New York. 2009's Keep Your Head Up remains a recent high-water mark. – Jim Caligiuri
11:20pm, Lamberts Texas-based soundscape artist Spencer Stephenson makes gorgeous, glitchy electronic music under the Botany banner. The beat-heavy music is neither overwhelmingly dance, nor are the textures on his debut EP Feeling Today too lithe and pretty to be substantive. Aligned with Austin's Western Vinyl label, Botany maps the cross section of experimental hip-hop and electronic pop in ways that are frequently unexpected but are rewarding more often than not. – Adam Schragin
12mid, Soho Lounge Locals Boy holds only two streamable songs in its stable, but that was enough to recently entice Spoon's Jim Eno, who courted the grandiose pop quartet to record its next singles at the drummer's studio, Public Hi-Fi. Fronted by Mississippi brothers Joshua and Jakob Clark, the troupe pushes a shiny indie pop that will remind many of a polished Dr. Dog. – Chase Hoffberger
Uncle Bad Touch
1am, Spill; Sat., 8pm, Club de Ville Roky Erickson meets Royal Trux but with a Blue Cheerfulness about it. The Montreal-based trio's self-titled debut on Infinity Cat finds it in full garage-shaking glory, but to call it lo-fi would be flattering. – Michael Bertin
VampilliaThe term "weird" is thrown around Austin a lot but not often enough regarding freaky Japanese music. If bizarre extravagance is your thing, we suggest Vampillia, a band that's stranger than its name is awkward. Imagine a dense swell of an orchestral twister that explodes into chaos, including a gimpy guy in bad Kiss makeup screaming like he's on fire. – Kevin Curtin
Mike & the Moonpies
1am, the White Horse Led by local ringer Mike Harmeier, the Moonpies serve up indie outlaw country and heartache by the bottle. So much so, in fact, the band has its own drink special in town: a shot of well whiskey and a PBR. On the boot heels of Daytrotter's annual Barnstormer tour, the Moonpies released a new live four-song EP that proves its hard country goes down as well on the bar stool as on the dance floor. – Austin Powell
1am, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room Barefoot and bare-armed, Whiskey Shivers' Bobby Fitzergerald is a howling, hell-bent, whiskey-soaked Texas hillbilly leading a rabid pack of string players. Whittling the fine-tuned talent of Old Crow Medicine Show with an unhinged flash of trucker speed, the young Austin quintet debuted with last year's Batholith, but it's the raucous and rowdy live set that makes it one of Austin's top new outfits. – Doug Freeman