SXSW Saturday Picks and Sleepers



12:30pm, Auditorium Shores Backbeat of the Band and one of the most iconic voices in American music, Levon Helm gets a fitting tribute on Auditorium Shores' main stage. Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Los Lonely Boys, JJ Grey & Mofro, James Hunter, and Spirit Family Reunion pay respects with the free daylong show, while Amy Helm, Levon's daughter, closes the night leading the star-studded jam with the Midnight Ramble Band. – Doug Freeman


7:30pm, Soho Lounge The Sour Notes' indelible pop hooks curling around Jared Boulanger's angst-edged vocals build a tension in the sextet's continually expanding sound that's led them to the top of Austin's indie scene. Fourth LP Last Looks courses with even more elaborate arrangements, balancing female vocals that offer deeper shades to the heavier guitars and more robust grooves. – Doug Freeman


8pm, Continental Club The Wagoneers started in 1987 and performed at the very first South By Southwest. Although that initial go-round only last two years, they had a great impact on the country rock explosion that followed. After reuniting in 2011 for the Austin Music Awards, the original quartet remained together, enjoying a Sunday night residency at the Continental and recently recording their first album in 23 years. – Jim Caligiuri


9pm, Dirty Dog Bar After nearly five years, urban earworm farmers the Little Ones just unveiled their second album, The Dawn Sang Along. Lead cut "Argonauts" combines heavyweight alterna-pop hooks with tropical rhythmic flourishes and ocean-sized heart. The L.A. sextet unearths musical touchstones in everything from Sixties transistor bliss to Eighties synth-pop and Nineties twee. – Greg Beets


10:25pm, Lustre Pearl With a voice somewhere between the sexy purr of Amy Winehouse and the brassy howl of Adele, Ruby Velle owns whatever microphone sits in front of her. With her grooving sevenpiece Soulphonics behind her, the Atlanta thrush declares that It's About Time pre-sequencer soul recaptures hearts and minds. – Michael Toland


10:30pm, 1100 Warehouse Chicago's Chief Keef entered our atmosphere hard. A high-school dropout, still not legal, already a daddy, on house-arrest for gun possession, he's a real life gangsta rapper documenting the violence currently ravaging the South Side's streets. Debut Finally Rich has a legitimate point of view, so we're not gawking, we're digesting. – Luke Winkie


11pm, Central Presbyterian Church Seeking to shed the freak-folk label saddled on him a decade ago, Barnhart cut his hair and pursued visual art during a three-year recording hiatus. Plenty of freaky remains on his new album Mala (Nonesuch), which finds the recently-engaged songwriter titling songs for obscure German saints and singing in Spanish. – Dan Oko


11pm, Brass House Since the sun set on Seattle's the Posies – one of the defining acts of Nineties college rock – Ken Stringfellow hasn't let the sunset take him. Having spent the past decade as a nomad across the globe, Stringfellow lets those travels inform his recent release, Danzig in the Moonlight. – Melanie Haupt


11pm, Scoot Inn These new Epitaph signees are the best addition to the once-great indie label's roster in recent memory. Led by Justin Pearson, who shredded bass strings and screamed for electro-grinders the Locust, Retox combines punk rock provocation and noise rock sonics in one and a half minute bursts of aggression. Second album YPLL comes out in May. – Kevin Curtin


12mid, Bar 96 A veteran of the Southern soul circuit, Charles Walker cut his first side in 1959, the burning soul ballad "Slave to Love." The Nashville shouter recorded for Decca, Chess, and other labels for the next two decades, then hooked up with Music City 10-piece the Dynamites in 2007 for debut Kaboom! Third LP Love Is Only Everything is due in April and features Walker's old friend Betty LaVette. – Thomas Fawcett


7pm, ACL Live at the Moody Theater; 12mid., St. David's Historic Sanctuary Master of the self-built guit-steel, Junior Brown returned last year with his first studio recording since 2004 full-length Down Home Chrome. The aptly named Volume 10 EP captures the local legend at his playful best, with honky-tonk send-ups to the state of modern technological inconveniences, celebrations of traditional Texas swing, and slips into smooth country jazz tones, all cradled in Brown's unmistakable twanged baritone. – Doug Freeman


12mid., Blackheart A guitar and drums power duo this time last year, 2012 saw these local favorites expand into a trio with the addition of Blind Pet's drummer Michael Anthony Gibson on guitar. The result: more riffage, more power. Recent EP Walk yielded several memorable tracks, including the swaggering title track and "Damn Strait," which spoke to the band's hidden influence: country music. – Kevin Curtin


12mid, Empire Automotive Few have done more this century to bridge the gap between hip-hop and jazz music like pianist Robert Glasper, whose discography runs for five albums and includes regular contributions from such luminaries as Lupe Fiasco, Erykah Badu, and the mighty Mos Def. Last year's Black Radio burned, but it's 2009's genre-splitting Double Booked that remains his foremost contribution to the thrills of innovation. – Chase Hoffberger


12mid., St. David's Bethel Hall If you like Local Natives, Fleet Foxes, and Midlake, then know that Denton's Seryn emerged fully formed in 2010 with We Will All Be Changed, a charming indie folk debut swelling behind big string arrangements and multipart harmonies. The band's been relatively quiet ever since, touring steadily and presumably working on new material. – Austin Powell


1am, Speakeasy Myriad incarnations of Giant Sand have been regular visitors to SXSW for two decades. Howe Gelb returns this year as Giant Giant Sand, which expands the basic lineup to a mini-orchestra in order to flesh out last year's acclaimed rock opera Tucson. – Michael Toland


1am, BD Riley's Led by the brothers Kinnon, Vancouver's Lions in the Street survived a couple of wonky record deals with its blues-ridden rock & roll raging. Though the band's recent On the Lam EP finds it cranking the amps to heavier levels, its Chuck Berry swing and Keef riffing remain powerfully potent. – Michael Toland


1am, Buffalo Billiards Local quintet Quiet Company hit the big time: Its Twitter account got verified! 2011's We Are All Where We Belong swept last year's Austin Music Awards, ruffling a misplaced Christian fan base in the process, while introducing the feral, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-like ensemble to a whole new audience. Follow-up A Dead Man on My Back promises national exposure. – Abby Johnston


1am, Esther's Follies The fact that all 17 members of chamber-pop outfit Mother Falcon can convene in one place is impressive enough, until the collective launches into a cut from 2011's Alhambra. Sparkling and beautiful, the band weaves music school studies and backyard jam sessions into a joyous, thriving median, with vocalists Claire Puckett and Nick Gregg leading the charge in Stars-esque vocal tribute. – Abby Johnston


1:15am, Club de Ville This year Pharcyde's groundbreaking debut Bizarre Ride II will be old enough to buy beer. A certified classic today, the disc reminds us how different this crew were when they dropped an album of "Ya Mama" snaps and "Passin' Me By" self-deprecation at the height of West Coast gangsta rap. Whether 1995's Jay Dilla-assisted follow-up Labcabincalifornia is even better, remains one of hip-hop's great debates. – Thomas Fawcett



8pm, Central Presbyterian Church A master at making a Telecaster sound like anything but, Dustin Wong runs his guitar through a chain of effects pedals to construct a pulsating mix of flickering guitar phrases that swell into a towering opus of digital noise. Working with his feet as much as his hands, the axeman sets loops, manipulates pitches, and adds delay in such extreme measures that you realize: he isn't a guitar player, he's an architect. – Kevin Curtin


8pm, Brass House Star & Micey's 2009 eponymous debut became a menagerie of rotating all-stars around the Memphis trio of Joshua Cosby, Geoff Smith, and Nick Redmond, with the likes of Luther Dickinson and Jody Stephens adding support to the LP's eclectic roots pop excursions. Though last year's I Can't Wait EP pared the band back down to its core members, the emotional frequency still thrived. – Doug Freeman


9pm, Javelina Given the musical résumé of Paul Price, veteran of beloved local pop outfits like Voxtrot and Brazos, his new project's debut LP dropped in February to high anticipation. Good Field swoons through epic-styled indie pop that the quartet keeps tightly hooked with chiming swells against Price's slightly gritted, reaching vocals. – Doug Freeman


10pm, Whiskey Room When the members of Brooklyn's Miracles of Modern Science met while attending Princeton, goofing off at acoustic open mics quickly turned into a legit project. While responsible for the viral "Bon Joviver" video in 2011, their actual music brings new meaning to the term "chamber pop," as the quintet miraculously makes compelling indie rock with string instruments on their first album, Dog Year. – Melanie Haupt


10pm, the Iron Bar Philly's Free Energy offers unabashed pop. They do whatever feels good; a few years ago I caught the quintet playing a "Funky Town" cover on a cold and dingy weeknight inside Emo's. Never one to frown, this year's sophomore effort comes pumped to the gills with candy-cane hooks. Titles like "Electric Fever" might make you recede, but I'm not that cynical. – Luke Winkie


10pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill It's in her genes. Akina Adderley's grandfather was trumpeter Nat Adderley, her grand was uncle saxophonist "Cannonball" Adderley, and her father Nat Jr., the bandleader for Luther Vandross. The local's marvelous vocals front a ninepiece band that's equally at home with rock, funk, or R&B. Adderley's second disc, Say Yes, released late in 2012, showcased her ability to both grit and groove with impressive ease. – Jim Caligiuri


11pm, Headhunter's Patio The Evaporators are what Vancouver garage-punk DJ Nardwuar the Human Serviette does when he's not ambushing rock royalty and various celebrities with his comical pre-Ali G interview terrorism. This means equally comical and fun Farfisa rockin' that somehow manages to meld the Sonics with the Pointed Sticks and Nardwuar's own trademark wackiness. As the man says, "Doot doola doot doo." – Tim Stegall


11pm, Holy Mountain Backyard Trading as Leopold & His Fiction, Daniel James' urgent, unpasteurized rock & roll vibrates with unfulfilled desire as often as it unleashes emotional fury, stripping down to basic elements to let its freak flag flow. The San Franciscan rocker has been bringing his vision of the old loud America to Austin's Chris "Frenchie" Smith for audio capture. – Michael Toland


12mid., Headhunters Patio With the manic cadence of Crass and righteous sneer of Bikini Kill, local quartet Feral Future throws down angry, untamed punk rock. Of the genre's two predominant and polar themes, unity and conflict, Feral Future leans to the latter on their five-song debut EP. Over jagged power chords, singer Arielle Sonnenschein airs her grievances with work, social roles, and suicide with an extended middle finger ever-present. – Kevin Curtin


12mid, Palm Door Some of SXSW's youngest performers (average age, 13), Residual Kid spent many a night over the last year in bars and clubs to become seasoned rock & rollers. While producer Chris "Frenchie" Smith adequately captured the trio's grungy noise punk on 2012's Faces, the best documentation of Residual Kid's talent continues to be their loud, heavy, reckless, instrument-switching live performances. – Kevin Curtin


12mid, Javelina Hailing from the Rio Grande Valley, this young indie-pop trio freshens the form with unlikely allusions to jazz and more traditional strains of pop. Vocalist Audrey Scott's potential star power is immediately palpable. She puts her range to good use with emotionally calibrated delivery that affects without resorting to affectation. Sick/Sea's 2012 EP, Moral Compass, boasts a full-bodied sound that hints at bigger things to come. – Greg Beets


1am, the Jr Sounding a lot like the Black Lips at an LSD-soaked beach party, local quartet La Migra shakes together surfy chord progressions and loose garage rock rhythms. Thriving off the conversation between Andy Anderson's tightly compressed, reverb-drenched vocal wail and Phillip Whaley's constant riffing, La Migra sets a carefree mood for dancing, drinking, and debauchery. – Kevin Curtin

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Thursday Interview
Thursday Interview

Nina Hernandez, March 20, 2015

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SXSW Thursday handicapping by the blurb

March 20, 2015

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