SXSW Friday Picks and Sleepers



6pm, Auditorium Shores Until now, free SXSW concerts down on the waterline count Ice Cube (in town this year as well), and the riot that was the Strokes as attendance kings. Here come the Okie challengers. Divine Fits, Spoon principal Britt Daniel, ex-Handsome Furs Dan Boeckner, and New Bomb Turk Sam Brown, kicks in at 6pm with namesake tics and convulsions, while My Morning Jacket captain Jim James samples his own divine fits, solo debut Regions of Light and Sound of God. Finally, Academy Award-commercial freaks the Flaming Lips come bearing Floydian, Dark Side of the Moon flashbacks on The Terror. The horror, the horror ... – Raoul Hernandez


7:30pm, Swan Dive; Fri. 10:10pm, Hotel Vegas Patio; Sat., 10:30pm, Parish For most artists, an aural shift happens over the course of a career. For Montreal's Mac DeMarco, it happened in a year. 2012 debut LP, Rock & Roll Night Club, smoothed out glam rock with a lipsticked DeMarco on its cover. Months later, 2 made over the 22-year-old into a barefoot troubadour, dreamy and jangled like a stripped down Real Estate. – Abby Johnston


TBA, Lucille A Houston kid who helped craft the archetype for golden era East Coast rap, DJ Premier is arguably the greatest hip-hop producer of all-time. Primo was one half of Gang Starr alongside the late Guru and crafted canvases for the verbal bullets of Nas, Biggie, and every other New York heavyweight. No word if he's spinning only Primo productions, but the fact that it's possible tells you everything. – Thomas Fawcett


8pm, Townhouse Native Dubliner BP Fallon, currently inhabiting Austin, dwells in rock & roll's heart, beginning with his working for the Beatles' Apple Records. Aide de camp to Led Zeppelin, Marc Bolan, Stiff Records, and Johnny Thunders' onetime manager, he now comes bearing a Jack White-helmed 45, declaiming Beat-inspired verse with Blondie's rhythm section, a stand-in New York Doll, and style and class. – Tim Stegall


8pm, Hotel Vegas/Volstead Throw together Ziggy Stardust, Sun Ra, Andre 3000, and your favorite gender-bending exotic dancer and you begin to have an inkling of what to expect from the wild theatrical stage show of Vockah Redu. A product of the Magnolia Projects and New Orleans bounce scene, the intergalactic artist has begun moving beyond the limitations of his booty-popping genre. – Thomas Fawcett


8:15pm, MACC (Mexican American Cultural Center); Sat., 11:45pm, Stage on Sixth A Latin orchestra in the mold of El Gran Combo and the Fania All-Stars, Grupo Fantasma fills dance floors with a searing mix of hard salsa, cumbia, and merengue. Locals have been cha-cha-chaing to the 10-piece for more than a decade, but the rest of the world took notice on 2010's Grammy-winning El Existential. They've backed Prince and Wu-Tang Clan's GZA. – Thomas Fawcett


8:30pm, Rebels Honky Tonk My Education's sixth LP, last year's A Drink for For All My Friends, commences unassumingly, a gentle build of strings and vibraphone that sets a gentle backdrop only to be ground up by the storming of guitars. Over 15 years, the ever-shifting local outfit has mastered the art of seamlessly juxtaposing disconcerting elements in their instrumental explorations, soundtrack to a restless mind. – Doug Freeman


9pm, Blackheart Beware of Darkness may be named after a foreboding song by George Harrison, but the L.A. power trio doesn't sound ready to let all things pass in its punk-bruised classic rock. Named for Allen Ginsberg's Howl, the band's blasting EP gives a taster of the full course meal due out in May. – Michael Toland


9pm, Javelina There's a reason the best of so-called classic rock survives decades of commercial radio abuse: it holds up. This young band of New Yorkers already telegraphs its punches by naming itself after a Bob Dylan song, but it's the warm, melodic, Seventies rock contained on its debut Ride on the Train that's the most trenchant reminder that meat and potatoes still taste good. – Michael Toland


9pm, VEVO TV Control Room Once considered the Welsh Maria Callas, former teen sensation Church was targeted by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, her family awarded nearly $1 million in the phone-hacking scandal. These days the classically-trained 26-year-old wants to be known for her music. Semi-autobiographical album One & Two files alongside Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Peter Gabriel. – Dan Oko


9:10pm, Swan Dive; Sat., 9:30pm, Mohawk Boosted by pal and fellow Canadian Grimes, Montreal duo Majical Cloudz cut its way into a saturated synth scene, but December's Turns Turns Turns EP uncluttered Majical Cloudz. Soundtrack to some minimalist parlor, Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto combine the former's deep, expressive voice with the consuming white noise produced by the latter, shockingly simplistic and lovely. – Abby Johnston


9:45pm, St. David's Bethell Hall; Sat., 11pm, Bungalow That Laurel Canyon sound lives with the Long Island-bred chanteuse Jenny O. Automechanic lightly, brightly updates Rickie Lee Jones and Joni Mitchell, mixing in a dash of Indigo Girls. Closer "Sun Moon and Stars" contains a touch of vaudeville the young performer will hopefully bring to the stage. – Dan Oko


10pm, Lustre Pearl; Fri., 1am, Mohawk Indoor; Sat., 12:10am, Parish DIIV's acclaimed debut Oshin comes in waves. Led by Beach Fossils touring guitarist Zachary Cole Smith, the NYC quartet percolates with dual guitars, dream pop vocals, and linear percussion, hitting a euphoric sweet spot between the Mermen's surf-rock instrumentalism and the New Romanticism of Disintegration-era Cure. It's like floating in one of those sensory-deprivation chambers. – Austin Powell


10:30pm, Bar 96 In 2012's new wave of noise rock, Metz has proven the most relentless in its attack, pounding like a migraine with the angular attack of the Jesus Lizard and trenching, bulldozer momentum of early Sub Pop. The Canadian power trio's eponymous debut offers 10 variations on the theme of kicking your teeth in. If you think it's brutal on record, just wait to see it live. – Austin Powell


11pm, Club de Ville Hotly tipped, at least in Anglophile circles, London's Savages bring both generous use of space and furrowed-brow intensity to its throbbing post-punk. Remembering a time when fans could dance and rock out at the same time, the quartet gets raw and rangy on its live EP, I Am Here. – Michael Toland


11pm, Continental Club Reactivated True Believers membership be damned! Come 11pm tonight, Jon Dee will tear away from Alejandro, Javier, and the rest of the gang to meet up with his Fighting Cocks at the Continental to do what he does most Wednesdays: display a bruised heart through weathered-as-a-rundown-barn songwriting. Thank God for that. – Tim Stegall


11pm, VEVO TV Control Room L.A. trio Dwntwn churns ethereal synth pop, but at its base strums an undeniable acoustic sensibility. At birth, the band featured an acoustic guitar, slowly replaced with production and synth. Debut See My Eyes sparked a fire when French label Kitsuné culled the title track for its fabled compilations. – Abby Johnston


11:10pm, Empire Automotive The Haim sisters – Este, Danielle, and Alana – and drummer Dash Hutton owe a huge debt to Pat Benatar, Heart, and any other girl band from the Eighties that employed long hair and a synthesizer. The Los Angeles quartet signed to Polydor after last year's SXSW; the label rereleased the band's EP, Forever, last summer. Expect a full-length later this year. – Melanie Haupt


11:15pm, Hotel Vegas; Sat., 10p, Hotel Vegas/Volstead Lanky Ohioan Gabe Fulvimar was in the Black Keys for a split second, but let's not talk about that. As Gap Dream, Fulvimar concocts colorful homemade avant-pop elixirs that reverberate with ragged tendrils of surf, psych, glam, and post-punk. 2012's self-titled debut on Burger Records packs more lo-fi thrift store hooks than one man and a drum machine should be allowed. – Greg Beets


11:30pm, Bar 96; Sat., 11:45pm, Hotel Vegas Los Angeles garage rock do-it-all Kyle "King Tuff" Thomas released his first full-length on Sub Pop last year, a self-titled 12-tracker that hits on the eccentricities of Thin Lizzy, Marc Bolan, and Sir Lord Baltimore. Wide eyed and long-haired, the Vermont native recalls Jay Reatard. Here's hoping Thomas proves as prolific. – Chase Hoffberger

ST 37

11:30pm, Rebels Honky Tonk Carrying the torch of Texas psych since 1987, Austin's ST 37 continues to sporadically produce self-released gems like last year's Awkward Moments and 2010's High and Inside. Drowning in a haze of guitar and reverb that can drift through cosmically shifting layers of aggressive punk riffs, fuzzed noise, and scalding jams, the quartet remains a seminal live act. – Doug Freeman


11:45pm, St. David's Bethel Hall; 9pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill Using the crowd sourcing website to fund his next release, Willie Nile met his goal in four days, then exceeded it. His rabid fan base will be more than pleased with the result: American Ride, due April 30. Thirty years after he came into the public eye, the New Yorker's style still includes colorful lyrics and a remarkably upbeat view of life. – Jim Caligiuri


12:05am, the Iron Bear Says something about your cultural capital as a band if you're able to change your name three albums in without anyone abandoning ship. That's where Philly's Bleeding Rainbow (formerly Reading Rainbow) find themselves. An expanded lineup, harsher shoegaze crunch, and the delicate twee of the former moniker falls to pieces. 2013's Yeah Right is an album for grownups, by grownups. – Luke Winkie


12mid., Javelina Psychedelic boogie boys Buffalo Killers emerge from the sweaty, stinky van brandishing last year's Dig. Sow. Love. Grow., the Cincinnati trio's fourth, an acid-imbued Seventies flashback. We're talking belt buckles, bell bottoms, and a little black magic. – Chase Hoffberger


12mid., Parish Schertz's prodigal son continues cranking out music (and books) with the fervor of a young man. Long sober, at 58, he remains intoxicated by the creative process. The road songs, lefty polemics, and love songs on his forthcoming release The Low Highway (New West) don't disappoint. – Dan Oko


12mid, Long Center Just as the crisis in his country reached a boiling point, Syria's Omar Souleyman made his way out. Following two acclaimed compilations for Sublime Frequences – culled from hundreds of bootlegs recorded from wedding ceremonies – the street-pop phenom toured the U.S. for the first time, exposing audiences to his spellbinding mix of Syrian dabke and Iraqi choubi. He's since extended his reach through collaborations with Björk for 2011's The Crystalline Series and last year's Bastards. – Austin Powell


12:30am, Bar 96 The performance identity of West Coast beach skuzz auteur Nathan Williams in tandem with Jay Reatard's former rhythm section, Wavves cues the sound of Brian Wilson as a twentysomething stoner enamored with the Ramones and the Jesus & Mary Chain. Lo-fi, herbal, fuzzbox shenanigans that rock enough to make you forgive the sloth that Williams' MMJ prescription apparently inspires. – Tim Stegall


1:25am, Headhunters Patio Since leaving Florida for L.A. in 2000, the Dollyrots' core duo of Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas have actively proven across several releases that the Sex Pistols and Pixies can be combined with sunny Sixties AM radio songwriting for a highly listenable hot mess. Last year's self-titled LP ruled, even if you keep a cover of "The Seether." – Tim Stegall



6pm, Omni Downtown; Sat., 1am, Brass House Child of Ohio Patrick Sweany takes after the earlier albums of his Akron area brothers the Black Keys on fifth album That Old Southern Drag, a 2011 effort that wraps you in a big old "Sleeping Bag" of simple Southern blues left rough around the edges. The big man with the baritone voice has a newbie coming out this summer, one he recorded in East Nashville. – Chase Hoffberger


7pm, Continental Club K&T explored the expanses of lo-fi funk and fuzzy psychedelic rock in the Seventies from the unlikely outpost of Victoria, TX. The family band – led by brothers Tyrone, Joe, and Charles Sanders Jr. – was long defunct until Austin imprint Heavy Light compiled the group's long lost recordings in 2011. – Thomas Fawcett


7:30pm, 1100 Warehouse This Milwaukee troupe plays like it's 1997 and they have something to prove. 22-year-old Trapper Schoepp composes tunes that should rightfully come from someone a lot more world weary. Last year's sophomore effort Run, Engine, Run gunned the band's energetic heartland rock with a splash of Gram Parsons' Cosmic Americana to make it pretty. – Jim Caligiuri


8pm, Parish "With the devil I'll dance, and maybe knock on wood," sings Gomez, a rootsy Taos, N.M., singer-songwriter on the title track of his debut Rule the World (New West). With a lyrical outlook worthy of Kris Kristofferson and a smoky voice that belies his slight 26 years, Gomez need not rely on luck. – Dan Oko


8pm, Holy Mountain Backyard Multi-instrumentalist Marcos Garcia crafts glitchy 8-bit Afrobeat, marrying the music of Fela Kuti with early Eighties electronic. An astonishing array of influences can be heard in the solo work of the Antibalas guitarist, which should make his DJ set a revelation. Watch him connect the dots between Nigerian funk, Latin freestyle, golden era hip-hop, and classic Afro-Cuban sounds. – Thomas Fawcett


8pm, Mohawk Indoor Despite icy post-punk riffs that build tension by strategically folding in on themselves, Buffalo, N.Y., trio Lemuria yang that yin with a warm pop center. Much of the credit goes to guitarist/vocalist Sheena Ozzella, whose high, longing voice darts in between Kim Deal-like bass lines to build credence in emotive, left-of-the-dial housewreckers like "Wise People." Road-tested since 2004, Lemuria's third full-length arrives later this year. – Greg Beets


8pm Valhalla The fuzzed-out alt-punk recorded by these stepsisters, ages 12 and 17, invites you to question why "Carrots! They're green on the top and they're orange at the bottom" can't be a valid chorus, especially when it's shouted. Neither professional nor consistent, Skating Polly managed to impress punk heroine Exene Cervenka, who produced the duo's new album. – Kevin Curtin


9:45pm, Headhunters Patio Ever wonder what might happen to an arcade video game if you poured Dr. Pepper down the back? NYC's Guardian Alien approximates that with a fiery burble of drums and electronic noise on "Holotropic Breathwork." Formed in 2010 by ex-Liturgy drummer Greg Fox, the trio's long, drone-rock compositions veer from pastoral to violent, as last year's See the World Given to a One Love Entity demonstrated. – Greg Beets


10pm, Javelina Deadheads discovered the Giving Tree Band when it contributed an ebullient rendition via video of "Brown-Eyed Women" to last year's Dead Covers Project. The Yorkville, Ill., septet favors a community approach to everything they do. With Vacilador, released late last year, they expanded their near-orchestral sound, bringing classic rock into the 21st century with irrepressible energy and arresting musicianship. – Jim Caligiuri


10:30pm, Victorian Room at The Driskill There's a harrowing, rough drawl that opens David Ramirez's excellent 2012 sophomore LP, Apologies, each word of "Chapter II" lingering just a breath too long as if it had nowhere else to go. The weary and searching want pulls throughout the album, the local songwriter working through the desperation and heartbreak to regain a semblance of faith and sanity, however tentative. – Doug Freeman


11pm, TenOak The list of folks for whom Minneapolis denizen Kevin Bowe has written, produced, or played guitar is almost ridiculous: Etta James, Paul Westerberg, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jonny Lang, Meat Puppets, ESPN, and even Leiber & Stoller. He recently released Natchez Trace, his second LP with his own roots-rocking Okemah Prophets. The band also backs up Freedy Johnston, with whom Bowe recently worked. – Michael Toland


12mid., Swan Dive Montreal's Airick Woodhead has a thing for nightmares, the bizarre dreams that twist off in images far outside our lucid perceptions. In that sense, his Doldrums project is deliciously hellish. A serrated blend of glitchy noise, smears of magenta fanasyland, and his own android voice. Lesser Evil is not an album for the faint of heart, but it's a surprisingly incomparable trip. – Luke Winkie


12mid., Club de Ville Trevor Powers remains a simple boy, sighing into a microphone somewhere in Boise. He plunked a few notes, sampled a few beats, and somehow created The Year of Hibernation, 2010's fragile-hearted clarion call. A few weeks away from sophomore effort Wondrous Bughouse, Powers has remains adorably meek. Pour one out for Midwest recluses. – Luke Winkie


1am, 512 Rooftop Perhaps you've counted BBNG out. It's easy considering the Toronto jazz trio remains best known for their covers of hip-hop smashes. Don't be fooled. Their take on Kanye's "Flashing Lights" earns all of its splendid, doomy atmospheric pomp. The original compositions aren't bad either. Last year's BBNG2 will rattle your bones. – Luke Winkie


1am, White Horse Songwriter Mike Harmeier recently made national headlines for all the wrong reasons: He was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico on the Triumph cruise ship. His Moonpies are no strangers to hard luck, hard livin', or hard liquor either, holding court in just about every honky-tonk in a 90-mile radius. Judging from last year's excellent The Hard Way, Harmier will turn that chaotic trip into a new country standard. – Austin Powell

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SXSW Thursday handicapping by the blurb

March 20, 2015

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