SXSW Thursday Picks and Sleepers



5pm, Auditorium Shores Whatever you do, don't be late. Italian superstar Jovanotti kicks off an international all-star bill with an infectious blend of hip-hop, global rhythms, and frenetic dance moves. In his maiden voyage to Austin last fall for the ACL Music Fest, the bearded ball of energy covered the Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy, Michael Jackson, and Bob Marley. Bajofondo of Buenos Aires follows with lush electronic tango before Molotov proves rap-rock didn't die, it moved south of the border. Fellow Mexicanos Café Tacvba draws on vibrant new disc El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco and more than 20 year's worth of grand éxitos. – Thomas Fawcett


8pm, Six Lounge; Fri., 11pm, Doritos Bold Stage Having played rockers to the Who's mods on the first leg of the latter's Quadrophenia tour last fall, this L.A. quartet rocketed from its 2012 SXSW as relative unknowns to a major live draw. Fans of Austin's Black Joe Lewis and Gary Clark Jr. take note; The Bomb Shelter Sessions, a self-release, draws from the dirty bottom of the same R&B well. – Dan Oko


8:05pm, Austin Music Hall; Fri., 10:15pm, Belmont Enemy are the new young face of English punk, bearing melodic, sky-punching prole anthems like "Away From Here" and "Gimme the Sign" from 2012's The Bronx-produced Streets in the Sky. Whoever loves 1978 Clash or Manic Street Preachers will be suitably thrilled. – Tim Stegall


8:30, Stubb's Formed in post-punk's early Eighties, the Meat Puppets remain a surrealist staple in underground rock. Western psych auteur Curt Kirkwood calls Austin home now, as does drummer Shandon Sahm (yes, of those Sahms), and since the return of Cris Kirkwood for 2007's Rise to Your Knees, the still feral trio follows up the terrific Sewn Together (2009) and Lollipop (2011) with the new Rat Farm. – Kevin Curtin


9pm, Whiskey Room No sooner had this quicksilver Spanish trio exited last year's SXSW with its propulsive VU/Raveonettes/BRMC rave-up In the Land of Silver Souls, than the Bilbao-headquartered Argentines set about prepping their full-length tribute, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Now comes word their next LP will be helmed by Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti. Arachnid rock: Martin Guevara, Coni Duchess, and Alberto Diez. – Raoul Hernandez


9pm, Stephen F's Bar Bhi Bhiman's bold, soulful singing remains strongly reminiscent of the great Nina Simone, odd coming from a guy who dresses like a CPA. The second generation Sri Lankan-American folksinger needs little more than an acoustic guitar and his hardy tenor to sooth, evidenced on his critically-acclaimed sophomore album, simply titled Bhiman. – Kevin Curtin


9:40pm, Speakeasy Kabaret; Thu., 12:40am, Elysium; Fri., 11:25pm, Hotel Vegas Patio London Zoo could be the best album you've never heard. It's an air raid, red skies at night, zombie armies, loaded shotguns apocalyptic screed. Producer Kevin Martin's globetrotting collaboration project brought the dark heart of Africa and the grimy guts of England together in perfect singularity. The Bug's been absent since 2008, but it appears that those listless years are finally over. – Luke Winkie


9:45pm, Red 7; Thu., 1am, Swan Dive This Montreal quartet drew comparisons to Clinic with 2010 debut Zeroes QC (Secretly Canadian), with vocalist Ben Shemie spitting his lyrics through clenched teeth while a rhythm drones. Suuns nevertheless emits a warmth absent from its British counterpart, exploring the limits of experimentation and a concern with the repetitions of modernity. Follow-up Images du Futur drops March 5. – Melanie Haupt


9:55pm, Austin Music Hall; Fri., 12mid, Lustre Pearl A relentless stage show, bulletproof retro-soul, and unabashed audience pandering; these ingredients made Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick and his sixpiece a breakout since coming together in 2008. Chart-topper "Moneygrabber" too years later was inescapable, and now with help from producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Depeche Mode, Phoenix), here comes a new major-label disc, May's Out of My League (Elektra). – Dan Oko


10pm, Empire Control Room Matt Drenik's former hard rock outfit practically served as house band for the first two seasons of FX motorcycle drama Sons of Anarchy. After being diagnosed with uvetis, a rare immune disease, Drenik took an introspective turn as Battleme. (That's his cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My" closing the third season.) The band's glam debut was produced by Ghostland Observatory beatsmith Thomas Turner. – Austin Powell


10pm, The Parish; Fri., Hotel Vegas Patio, 8:25pm, Sat., Hotel Vegas/Volstead, 9:30pm Ty Segall collaborator Mikal Cronin played almost every instrument on his eponymous solo debut two years ago, nailing the uncertainty of inbetween years with one fuzz-toned standout after another. His instinctual calibration of bombast and wistfulness effortlessly integrates guitar meltdowns with Beach Boys harmonies and surprise treats like flute solos. Follow-up MCII arrives on Merge May 7. – Greg Beets


10pm, Stage on Sixth Waylon & Willie may have become progressive country's institutions, but Ray Wylie Hubbard wrote the movement's anthem, "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." 2012's The Grifter's Hymnal shows Hubbard no less rowdy and raw, keeping the backing lean. "Lazarus" may be the first country song ever to name-check Arthur Rimbaud. – Tim Stegall


10:30pm, 404 Austin; Sat., 10pm, Suite 101 Chicago-bred, street-refined, with a heavy helping of Looney Toons, Chance raps jokey, swerving, and casually insane. Breakout single "Juice" swings wildly around a sauntering, drunk piano weave. "I got the juice, I got the juice," he pushes through a crooked smirk. His flow's slippery, and he's self-aware enough to call his forthcoming album Acid Rap. – Luke Winkie


11pm, Saxon Pub Before Joe "King" Carrasco introduced the world and Michael Jackson to the joys of Nuevo Wavo, there was El Molino. Inspired by the confluence of rock, country, R&B and Tejano endemic to San Antonio, he assembled the hottest players on El West Side to record 1977's classic Tex-Mex Rock-Roll. El Molino disbanded in 1979, but Carrasco reconvened surviving members last year to record Tlaquepaque. – Greg Beets


12mid., Stage on Sixth Like showcase mate Ray Wylie Hubbard, Billy Joe Shaver's another three-named survivor of progressive country. He also wrote the scene's best songs, hits like "Honky Tonk Heroes" and "Georgia on a Fast Train." Really, he's the outlaw country Bob Dylan. Just don't answer if he asks "Where do you want it?" – Tim Stegall


12mid., Antone's Three years after his sixth LP, So Runs the World Away, singer-songwriter Josh Ritter emerges with The Beast in Its Tracks, probably his most emotionally forthright release to date. On it, Ritter processes his recent divorce and he's never sounded more Dylanesque, with an edge to what was once a voice of pure sweetness and joy, accentuated with wistful, delicate fingerpicking on acoustic guitar. – Melanie Haupt


12mid, Lustre Pearl; Fri., 6pm, Auditorium Shore Don't call it a side project. Spoon's Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner, formerly of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, have pushed all in behind last year's debut collaboration, A Thing Called Divine Fits, a broken marriage of the former's jagged cool and the latter's electro confessionals. – Austin Powell


12:35am, Red 7 Akron/Family thrives within an upending virtuosity, and few bands could manage as eclectic a sweep of music as the trio's past decade output. From the off-kilter psych-folk beginnings of their eponymous 2005 debut and Michael Gira collaboration as Angels of Light, to 2011's mind-melting explorations of The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (Dead Oceans), the outfit inhabits its own encompassing world of restless, inimitable jams. – Doug Freeman


12:50am, TenOak How did a dynamic Detroit trio of brothers who fanned the flames of proto-punk from where the MC5 left off go unheard until 2009? Recorded and cast aside in 1974, the seven songs on Death's ...For the Whole World to See will melt your face off faster than the lost Ark. The Hackney brothers' saga got the documentary treatment with last year's A Band Called Death, screening at SXSW Film. – Greg Beets


1am, StubHub; Fri., 11:45pm, Belmont Live EODM main man Jesse Hughes makes a more credible rock & roll Republican than Ted Nugent. Perhaps he's tempered by his band co-hort Josh Homme? Together, they make the least death metal garage/glam racket on the planet. For once, the ironic band name is welcome. – Tim Stegall


1am, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room; Fri., 9pm, Hotel Vegas Patio Underestimate Brooklyn's Marnie Stern and she'll assassinate you with her guitar. Stern's virtuosic talent remains a sight to behold, all double-tapped melodies with shocking focus. Don't worry, she's not austere. In fact she's quite funny as demonstrated by the title of this month's fourth full-length, Kill Rock Stars' The Chronicles of Marnia. – Luke Winkie


1am, Cedar Street Courtyard; Sat., 8:45pm, Viceland Surviving the new millennial garage punk revival, Atlanta's Black Lips remain the same beer-n-bennies-fueled hellions as a decade ago despite a cleaner Mark Ronson production on 2011's Arabia Mountain. They still revere the Seeds and Electric Prunes, and could create the same panic the Icarus Line did aeons back. – Tim Stegall


1:15am, Hotel Vegas/Volstead; Sat., 11pm, Holy Mountain Berlin trio Camera earned the moniker "Krautrock Guerilla" by paying homage to Seventies-spawned titans of the form like NEU! and Cluster via spontaneous, unofficial gigs in public spaces. Their 2012 studio debut, Radiate, packs a third eye-revealing punch. Live, Camera improvises experimental rock meltdowns against a backdrop of strange projections, summoning audiences to coalesce in a fleeting, multisensory headspace that never feels the same way twice. – Greg Beets

Thursday Sleepers


8pm, Red 7 After releasing 2009's excellent, Adrienne Rich-inspired full-length debut, Phosphorescent Blues, Brazos' Martin Crane left Austin for Brooklyn, with the fruits of the departure finally beginning to emerge in anticipation of this summer's follow-up, Saltwater on Dead Oceans. Crane's tender tenor rattles with a wound-up angst coiled in the vibrant pastiche of the now-trio's pop. – Doug Freeman


9pm, Madison No idea how this young New Delhi-based DJ managed to get into the country under his stage name, but Ashish Sachan generated buzz in his native India, as well as Australia, by blazing minimalist electronic beats. He shares more with DeadMau5 or early Moby than trance globetrotters might expect. The EDM kids in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, go crazy for it. – Dan Oko


9pm, Hideout The fertile valley where the Min and Yangtze Rivers come together nurtures the rambling, novel prog-folk compositions of Sichuan-born musician Baishui, a self-taught Chinese artist recording far outside the global mainstream since 2007. Armed with everything from traditional silk-stringed inventions to piano and guitar, Baishui calls his trio of recent recordings, A Travel Book, Some Other Place, and City of Lost, a psychic travelogue. – Dan Oko


9pm, Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn LSD's soulful jazz-pop could settle in at a supper club as easily as take over a street corner. The Brooklyn quartet's trumpet-contrabass-drums instrumental attack raises eyebrows, but it's singer Rachael Price giving the band its whiplash-inducing calling card. Check out the hit YouTube cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" for an inkling of its graceful style. – Michael Toland


9pm, IFC Crossroads House Dubbed the best new band by Portland's Willamette Week, Radiation City creates dreamy indie soul with the refined sensibilities of classic pop music. 2012's Cool Nightmare EP offers soft seduction: imagine Ike & Tina Turner's drama – the quintet contains two couples – with the Flaming Lips' euphoric glow, and the bossa nova swagger of Serge Gainsbourg. A second LP, Animals in the Median, arrives in May. – Austin Powell


9pm, the Parish Longtime Lambchop guitarist William Tyler hit the solo acoustic trail in 2010 with Behold the Spirit and hasn't looked back. The son of Music Row songwriter Dan Tyler, the Nashville-based instrumentalist beguiles with John Fahey skill and James Blackshaw bliss on the new Impossible Truth. – Michael Toland


9pm, White Horse This hard-touring Austin transplant went from being the secret weapon of Levi & the Rock Cats to quietly usurping Brian Setzer's place as neo-rockabilly's most virtuosic guitar wizard. Harvey does seemingly impossible things on the fretboard. – Tim Stegall


10pm, Mohawk Indoor The reformed Dinosaur Jr. had best watch its backs; London has produced new titans of post-Neil Young guitar scuzz and soaring melodies. Familiar sound, yes, but Extended Plays, which collects last year's Cored and Sans EPs, shows off the Cheatahs as a fine young band giving that template fresh energy. Look for great things from these guys. – Tim Stegall


10:15pm, Holy Mountain Backyard Against a psychedelicized bed of factory floor guitar fuzz, Auckland, New Zealand's Ghost Wave surfs a spirited strain of lo-fi ripped from the pages of the Flying Nun renaissance. The trio's self-titled 2011 EP alternates between reverberant acid warbling and blissful melodies that discourage anything resembling productivity. This altogether pleasant haze of distorted derivations ultimately finds renewal in the band's straight-on pop songcraft. – Greg Beets


11pm, Maggie Mae's Love songs, nature songs, and travelogues on Rayland Baxter's debut LP Feathers & Fishhooks suggest an affinity for both Townes Van Zandt and the Shins, plus worship of the open road. The mellow-voiced fingerpicker demonstrates dialed-in songwriting maturity despite his young career. Perhaps it's the musicality in his genes; father Bucky Baxter played pedal steel on Steve Earl's Copperhead Road and Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind. – Kevin Curtin


11pm, Red Eyed Fly Fifteen songs tumble out of this Japanese one-man Beatlesque as if from a carnival clown car – colorful, nonstop, and seemingly endless. New disc In Focus? hops, skips, and prances a confection spectrum from Calliope pop to a tender ballad such as "Tightrope," affective, new millennial, almost Beck–like. – Raoul Hernandez


11pm, Flamingo Cantina; Sat., 9pm, Stage on Sixth Patio Ester Rada only has a brief EP under her belt, but those four songs show such potential that predicting big things from her seems more smart than bold. Born in Israel to Ethiopian parents, Rada taps into the spirit of Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, and Jill Scott, with a touch of Ethiopique jazz, a dash of reggae, and a heaping of sultry soul. Jump on the bandwagon while there's still plenty of room. – Thomas Fawcett


11pm, Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn Deploying pedal steel guitar with a psychedelic flair amid country-rock ambience, Futurebirds lilt a deceptively laid-back roots sound on 2010's debut LP, Hampton's Lullaby, only hinting at the driving force of the Athens, Ga., sextet's live shows. Their upcoming sophomore effort for Fat Possum, Baba Yaga, captures the power better, while not dispelling any southern atmospherics. – Doug Freeman


11pm, Velveeta Room Touring with the Sword last winter set up American Sharks as the next torchbearers of Austin metal, but it's the bursting charisma of burly frontman Mike Hardin, formerly of Houston's Roky Moon and BOLT! that's won over fans. Following up last year's debut 7-inch Weedwizard (Pau Wau Records), the trio preps massive riffs and headbanging stoner fury for a debut LP later this spring. – Doug Freeman


12mid., Whiskey Room Local fivepiece Golden Bear spends a good deal of time on its disappearing act. Perhaps it retreats into its "galactic-forest rock," or maybe California's state ursine wants to preserve its legend. With anthemic, soaring hooks and sing-along choruses, Golden Bear rears up as Austin power pop at its finest. – Abby Johnston


12mid., Rebels Honky Tonk With its first release in four years, San Saba County's 2012 EP Broken Record proved worth the wait. The local quintet mellows its previous garage country sound from 2008 LP ...Though Cheating Was Never an Option with smoother pop edges behind John Saba's songwriting, while still kicking with a comfortably rootsy sensibility, and touches of Wilco. A promising return that moves beyond – Doug Freeman


1am, Central Presbyterian Church; Fri., 10pm, Vice Bar Georgia-born Walker has consistently been one of mainstream rock's best triple threats since his hitmaking heyday with Marvelous 3 ("Freak Of The Week"). A writer and performer of rootsy, literate songs, he's commercial on one hand, and a hit producer (Pink, Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne) on the other. Always credible, no matter what. – Tim Stegall


1am, Continental Club With toes in the rich Southern tradition of Flannery O'Connor and Larry Brown, Django Haskins leads his Durham-based band through savory folk rock/pop that defies easy categorization as much as it caresses the ears. Last year's Fairytales & Other Forms of Suicide heralds the way. – Michael Toland


1am, IFC Crossroads House One of best debut LPs of 2012, Matthew E. White's Big Inner (Hometapes) grooves with a surprisingly thick Southern soul. The Richmond, Va., songwriter's cool and low croon slides smoothly around touches of Stax R&B, lush strings, and psychedelic gospel, his mellow range swelling in uplifting reassurance, even amid deeper emotional depths. An album that seems simultaneously expansive and insular, but inviting throughout. – Doug Freeman


1am, Velveeta Room The artiness of Cartright's avant-garde rock more than balances out the desperation they play it with. Fronted by acoustic-guitar-wielding artist Ben Cartright, the quartet explodes into tremendously heavy melodies and grainy "whoa-oh-oh" battle cries in between reserved passages. The flagship band on drummer Nick Cornetti's local Pau Wau label, yet still underrated, Cartright's fans love them and the rest don't know what they're missing. – Kevin Curtin


1am, Javelina; Sat., 12mid, Meduse Lounge Austin funk mob T Bird & the Breaks claim a new style called chunk music: "equal parts funk, hip-hop, and rock & roll characterized by its rough sonic quality and energetic, visceral performance. Commonly served hot with a side of girls and brass." Leader Tim Crane makes sure it's all presented as irreverently as early Beastie Boys, with a side of James Brown proud. – Jim Caligiuri


11pm, Club De Ville Don't sleep on Yelawolf just yet. The stringy-haired, prison-tatted 'Bama boy is a SXSW lifer at this point. In fact, he started making waves after a particularly violent 2010 tour. Since then, debut disc Radioactive went gold, Eminem called, and a legitimate career slid into focus. Yela is still a fireball; volatility becomes him. – Luke Winkie

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Thursday Showcases
Thursday Showcases
International hip-hop, or domestic, Modern Outsider sounds?

March 20, 2015

Thursday Interview
Thursday Interview

Nina Hernandez, March 20, 2015

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle