SXSW Thursday Showcases
Your Thursday night SXSW showcase hangs
Turnstile Presents7:30pm, St. David's Historic Sanctuary
Cardiff label Turnstile Records packs St. David's sanctuary with quietude, but the title, "We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives," stakes its impressionability. Perfume Genius, the sobriquet of Seattle's Mike Hadreas, takes the stage still drawing from 2012's stunning Put Your Back N 2 It, a minimalistic showcase of songwriting that makes for a striking live show. Former Girls frontman Christopher Owens takes a solo turn since his band broke up in 2012. Owens found on 2013 solo debut Lysandre offers much less pomp than his full-band counterpart, but the penchant for Fifties-era lenses continues. The evening ends with a Welsh one-two punch, with Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys previewing music from May release American Interior, and his former tour support Cate Le Bon busting out a newly smoothed aesthetic to her oddball tendencies. Sample it on her first album since relocating to L.A., Mug Museum.
2k14 SeoulSonic8pm, Icenhauer's
Even with the explosive and happily sustainable popularity of K-Pop tarnishing South Korea's worldwide musical reputation, don't forget that there are men and women on the Korean peninsula making unsponsored music, the kind that belongs in a tangible indie scene. All these bands come from Seoul, but beggars can't be choosers. Smacksoft, anchored by songwriter Whang Bo Ryung, weave layered, smoky synthetic blankets like Portishead. Big Phony writes simple, English-language acoustic pop songs, while Glen Check provides bouncy teen-pop perfect for John Hughes capers. Rock N' Roll Radio condenses several decades of American pop excess into spaceship rock entirely unconcerned with death. Love X Stereo, meanwhile, is perfect for young, swollen-heart stargazers, warming you up when you need a reason to breathe. Lastly there's No Brain, an unflinchingly positive punk quartet. Leave it to the Koreans to stay optimistic.
Metal Injection8pm, Dirty Dog Bar
The Web-only Metal Injection courts a younger demo than the average denim-n-patches headbanger. Celebrating anniversary 10 this year, the website imports L.A. emocore quartet Silver Snakes, reviving after a three-year layoff in anticipation of the new Year of the Snake. Chicago psych/prog/black metal sorcery blackens the sun in the claws of the Atlas Moth, road-testing material from highly anticipated June LP The Old Believer. From New Hampshire, of all places, cometh a more traditional black metal scourge in the form of Vattnet Viskar, wielding Sky Swallower. Born in Venezuela and trained at the Berklee College of Music, Felix Martin brings 14 strings and his self-described jazz metal to support The Scenic Album. Pennsylvania's Rivers of Nihil contemplates The Conscious Seed of Light, which sounds remarkably like Swedish death metal. In the penultimate spot Berlin screamo/prog collective the Ocean explores the depths of its acclaimed release Pelagial, and Houston's Scale the Summit closes out the tab with anthemic instru-metal from The Migration.
Womex8pm, Flamingo Cantina
Star-studded annual music convention Womex returns to SXSW for the sixth year with a sample from the cultures this Berlin-based festival represents. On the prowl for authentic folk acts, the expo brings Gochag Askarov the Azerbaijani folk singer whose expressive vocals run the gambit from mournful to exhilarated and back again in the span of seconds. Stringy South Korean hard rock group Jambinai mix modern rock with traditional folk influences, the trio working on a follow-up to 2011 debut Différance, which earned them Best Crossover Album at the Korean Music Awards this year. A special treat are the ladies of Mariachi Las Pioneras de México, who preserve the traditional Mexican genre with new material. Lo'Jo levies a French-African mash-up with a communal, gypsy feel akin to Thievery Corporation and Gogol Bordello. Working up to a frenzy in 2012's Cinema el Mundo, Denis Péan and Richard Bourreau tumble new into old.
Sounds From Colombia8pm, Speakeasy
Welcome to Colombia, from its Caribbean lilt to hard rock edges. Combining the former beats with earnest vocals, fiery reggae, and heel-kicking salsa, Ivan David released his debut LP Un Nuevo Aire last year and inched his way to stardom. Standout "Un Dolor" cures all life's pains. The singer-songwriter comes joined by slick Bogotá hip-hop crew LosPetitFellas, rolling rhymes wrapped in steady jazz and blues grooves. Also featured are rock trio Arbol de Ojos (tree of eyes), who recently jammed with SXSW veteran duo Bomba Estéreo at the Festival Estéreo Picnic in the capital. Compared to American rockers the Killers, they're led by megaphone-wielding frontman Camilo Maldonado wading through a sea of reverb and buoyed by transfixing keyboards and a relentless rhythm section. Alurion, burgeoning with enough horns and call-and-response to fill three venues, headlines. If local brass contingents like Minor Mishap and Urban Achievers knock off your socks, don't miss 'em.
BBC Introducing8pm, Latitude 30
Since 2007, BBC Introducing has sought out and spotlighted unsigned or otherwise under-the-radar talent from across Britain. Using local boots on the ground to sniff out emerging acts, they provide a platform both on the radio network and at festivals from Glastonbury to SXSW to provide exposure. Tonight's bill features mostly London acts, starting with Thumpers, comprising singer-songwriter Marcus Pepperell and drummer John Hamson Jr, who kick things off with their high-spirited alt-pop. Cousin Marnie, a solo folktronica act, released Is Sleeping, an EP of ultramodern covers of Carter Family songs last summer. Quintet Longfellow makes very listenable indie-pop, evoking a less-cloying Coldplay. There's a thesis here about a young British band naming itself after a famed American poet who was beloved but criticized for writing for the masses. Brighton garage-rock duo Royal Blood takes the stage for a shot of vitamin R at midnight. Finally, Woman's Hour, a quartet that takes its name from a BBC program "offer[ing] a female perspective on the world." Singer Fiona Burgess' makes dreamy observations about love, as evidenced on recent single "Her Ghost" (Secretly Canadian).
Ground Control Touring8pm, Red 7
From documentaries to concept records about John DeLorean, former Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys continues doing the weirdly mirthful, including early Aughties musical masterpiece Hotel Shampoo and his website name, Gruffington Post. Having shed half his Jonny Corndawg alter ego moniker, Jonny Fritz also jettisoned his sillier songs. The result, Dad Country, is an authentic nostalgia throwback. In a similar vein arrives Fat Possum's Dylan-for-hipsters, New York's the Felice Brothers. And with a style marrying Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke – technically not legal in Texas – Steve Gunn has built up a respectable solo catalog. He's done time as a supplemental Violator, the backing band of, hey, look at that ... headliner Kurt Vile. The Philadelphian's carved out his own hippie Americana Velvet Underground sub-genre. Last year's Wakin' on a Pretty Daze was more strum than drone and loaded with extended wanks. If it's not his most coherent effort, it's still more hypnotic than self-indulgent.
M for Montreal8pm, Maggie Mae's
Oh là là. This year the annual M for Montreal showcase takes over both the main room and rooftop of Maggie Mae's with les Québécois. The latter might buckle under the weight of heavy beats from electronic and hip-hop artists. Alex Fleming, 19, brings haunting piano ballad "Paris" and 2014's sharply punctuated debut EP, Young Bloods, opening as Black Atlass. Alaclair Ensemble and Random Recipe both revive the hip-hop crew, packing six and four MCs onstage, respectively, and with more camaraderie than braggadocio. Maggie Mae's main room touts variations on pop with minimal droner Marie Davidson singing – largely unlike other Québécois representatives – en français. Noise-rock trio No Joy draws from 2013's Mexican Summer releases Wait to Pleasure and Pastel and Pass Out, weaving shoegaze into polished infrastructure. It's a smoothness that will then be interrupted by Montreal duo Solids, fighting through layers of distortion scripted on this year's LP, Blame Confusion.
Western Vinyl8pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill
Not only does Western Vinyl come bearing an almost entirely new roster, it might be the Austin indie's finest SXSW showing to date. That's thanks in no small part to Brooklyn's Ava Luna (12mid), whose no-wave R&B thriller Electric Balloon landed just in time for peak SXSW buzz. Soon to tour with Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry, alt-folk songstress Dawn Landes (1am) proves equally difficult to pin down. Her latest, Bluebird, featuring Norah Jones, could be considered a counterpoint to her ex-husband Josh Ritter's "divorce" record, The Beast in Its Tracks. It's intimate and vulnerable, but Landes zooms out enough to capture the bigger picture, too. Abram Shook (9pm), newest member of Austin's Shearwater, just dropped Sun Marquee, breezy psych-pop that should be your summer soundtrack. Likewise, former child voice actor and Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming has a cult of personality and a new disc, My Friend Fish, under the alias Diane Coffee (11pm), to match it. Progressive bedroom producer-turned-rapper Lushlife (10pm) makes a last-minute substitution for Stone Jack Jones, previewing a summer album that features genre-hopping guest spots from Ariel Pink, Shabazz Palaces, and the Roots' Black Thought. Balmorhea violinist Aisha Burns flies solo first with assured folk of last year's Life in the Midwater.