The Austin Chronicle

Tuesday SXSW 2015 Showcases

March 13, 2015, Music

He^RD X Paypal Music Tech Mashup

7pm, Empire Control Room & Garage
HE^RD and Paypal's music-tech mash-up isn't in name only. The showcases, running both inside the Control Room and Garage, blend Austin singer-songwriters with some of the biggest names in L.A.'s electronic scene. Not unlike a Saturday farmers' market, the Garage keeps it local, organic, and fresh with blues phenom Gary Clark Jr. leading the charge, bookending a set begun with 20- year-old local fiddle prodigy Ruby Jane. In-between, folk-pop sensation Shakey Graves knocks off road dust from an ongoing international tour. Pop smarts Marmalakes and electro prodigies Speak round off the Austinites, with NYC duo London Souls standing in as the lone foreigners. While the garage jams, the Control Room bumps West Coast beats. Kastle steps from behind Ellie Goulding and Janelle Monáe remixes to let his dub hang loose leading up to his sophomore 2015 release. Although he looks like a proper gentleman, electronic eccentric Daedelus spins beats like a mad scientist. The night rounds off with Jennifer Lee, who under the sobriquet Tokimonsta has collaborated swimming, melodic beats with Kool Keith and MNDR. – Abby Johnston

Riot Act Media

7pm, Cheer Up Charlies
Footings in Brooklyn, Athens, and Seattle, Portland, Ore.-born PR firm Riot Act celebrates its 10th anniversary and second annual South by Southwest showcase. Helmed by Houston native and former Sub Pop publicist Joan LeMay, Riot Act campaigns for over 50 artists nationwide, 10 of them local acts including Dana Falconberry, Mirror Travel, and Roger Sellers. Tuesday's ATX-skewed lineup features eclectic-pop troubadour Abram Shook, whose sophomore LP Landscape Dream drops mid-May, the anticipated follow-up to his impressively unique 2014 debut Sun Marquee. Joanna Newsom's stylistic sister Jess Williamson, who captivated with last year's Native State follows, while fast-rising favorites Shivery Shakes headline, riding the breezy surf-pop of last fall's debut LP Three Waves & a Shake. Joining the riot are Olympia, Wash., banjo duo the Lowest Pair, L.A. folker Tom Brosseau, and former Jenny Lewis keyboardist Natalie Prass, whose striking self-titled debut dropped in January. – Neph Basedow

City of Austin

8pm, Parish/Parish Underground
Sixth Street's Parish leans into SXSW with concurrent showcases positioning must-see local acts on the upper and lower levels. By night's end, your calves will burn from running up and down the stairs. Up top, Latin diva Gina Chavez, who broke out last year with the four-star fusion of Mexican folk and American pop on sophomore LP up.rooted, takes one for the team with a rare opening slot. Following the Rocketboys' soaring indie rock and Uncle Lucius' Southern-bar baritone, Atlantic Records R&B singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer Max Frost arrives on the momentum of slow-jam "Let Me Down Easy." He clears a path for Midas touch rap collective League of Extraordinary Gz. Downstairs at Parish Underground, it's the veteran ATX all-stars of Why Not Satellite, alt-electro newbie Missio, and gothy pop singer Jessie Frye. Gravitational indie rockers Black Books, led by pure-voiced everyman Ross Gilfillan, set the scene for ex-Voxtrot leader Ramesh (Srivastava), who blows out the candle with a mighty wind of lush arrangements, sophisticated lyrics, and still-boyish voice in his heavenly pop songwriting. – Kevin Curtin


8pm, Flamingo Cantina
There's a lot more to nerdcore than whiteboy rappers with Ph.D.s and a list of Firefly references. Anglo-Austin Dual Core began as a one-off remote collaboration, but dour insights into relationship trauma over Counterstrike beats are making them an institution. That status looms for Hand Job Academy (Yeastie Girlz provocation meets Geto Boys dark humor), the smooth-as-a-razorblade Soul Veggies (aka Capcom-licensed rapper Mega Ran and engineer Storyville), and the Philly duo's tourmate Sammus (never have power-ups been such a measure of female independence). Then it's time for contenders for the title of nerdcore's big four: genre pioneer MC Frontalot (hell, he invented the word); Adam Warrock's running buddy Mikal Khill; the scene's evil genius Schaffer the Darklord; and the Metallica to his Slayer, the master of literate punk/hip-hop, MC Lars, just as likely to drop a Moby Dick reference as a Fugazi sample. – Richard Whittaker

Chicken Ranch Records

8pm, Valhalla
Austin-by-way-of-Ruston-Louisiana's Chicken Ranch Records begins clearing its SX henhouse with Nashville anti-comic Chris Crofton, described by satirical powerhouse the Onion's A.V. Club as "a lo-fi icon in a hi-fi town." Hot on his heels comes Atlanta's Willie Heath Neal, pumping out an adrenalized trad country like ATX's Dale Watson chasing a bad tequila hangover with stepped-on crank and a bowl of menudo. Former Music City renegades Starlings, TN have lived locally long enough they should be Starlings, TX. Their haunted aggro-grass almost makes them country's Velvet Underground. Austin's Moonlight Towers then gooses the energy skywards with bracing, melodic rock & roll, showcased beautifully on last fall's Heartbeat Overdrive. Athens institution Five Eight mines a similarly near-power-pop direction, but from a universe where Neil Young & Crazy Horse were a bigger influence than Big Star. Rounding out: Famed "Japanese Action Comic Punk Band" Peelander-Z, who morph 3-D manga punk into equally animated Eighties Sunset Strip metal on most recent LP Metalander-Z. Six flavors of overdrive from Chicken Ranch won't leave anyone hungry. – Tim Stegall

WE DC Music

8pm, Bungalow
The We DC initiative brands the District as a technological, cultural, and business hub. Brooklyn via Maryland band Prinze George (get it?) starts the showcase, covering a hyperactive swath of genres, including EDM, folk, and indie rock. Flipping the script 180 degrees and going distinctly District, go-go legends Rare Essence bring the syncopated rhythms backed by unique percussion arrangements. Threepiece power-pop Jukebox the Ghost arrives armed with a re-released fourth LP, having unleashed big left (musical) hooks on their North American tour. The whiplash art punk/pop prog band Paperhaus provides yet another, more subtle twist here, embracing a collaborative sound that's part Television and part blues-rock. DC Loves Dilla, the headlining piece of the showcase, is comprised of DMV luminaries playing the veritable classics of arguably the greatest hip-hop producer of all time. The lineup includes standout producer/rapper Oddisee, Asheru (of The Boondocks theme fame), songstress Maimouna Youssef, and the genre-bending Kokayi and his Players. – Kahron Spearman

Chicago Made

8pm, The Main
A killer lineup blew in from the Windy City like a Texas tumbleweed. The night's bookended by two artists from the SaveMoney collective, one of the most vital hip-hop crews in the country – best known for Chance the Rapper. Headliner Vic Mensa may not be a household name, but if he keeps popping up on stages alongside Kanye West (on SNL's 40th anniversary celebration last month and in London last week) that will change. Opening is Leather Corduroys, a cheeky collaboration between SaveMoney MCs Joey Purp and Kami de Chukwu. Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta, who release their debut just days after this showcase, specialize in Pan-Latin cumbia, a bouncy organ-driven sound owing to groups like Irakere and Peruvian chicha. Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is a brass and percussion crew of eight brothers from the South Side, all sons of Phil Cohran who played trumpet in Sun Ra's Arkestra. The band of brothers borrows from the second line tradition of New Orleans, but their infectious sound is more indebted to hip-hop than jazz. Twin Peaks and Gemini Club rock out as well. Chi-town stand up. – Thomas Fawcett

Canada House

8pm, Friends
Every year the Canadian Independent Music Association makes its home in a would-be frat bar to showcase the finest acts from the great white north. This year they import typologically skewed fourpiece Ooohh Baby Gimme Mores, who chop up fresh, debauched rock & roll straight from the heart of Toronto. Single Mothers hail from London – the one in Ontario – and write the sort of art-punk that puts you through at least 12 members before releasing a debut album. Blake Carrington's an MC doubtlessly happy we're living in a post-Drake world, but more interesting is DJ collective Grand Analog, which makes liquid, reggaeton-ish beats for a rotating cast of rappers. Saukrates has been rhyming and loving in Toronto since the Nineties, long before people were taking the city seriously as a legit hip-hop powerhouse, and Tasha the Amazon spits like a cross between Lauryn Hill and golden-age Lupe Fiasco. Never ever sleep on Canada. – Luke Winkie


8pm, Barcelona/Central Presbyterian Church
The Dutch split across a wonderfully incomprehensible preview night. Vertical Cinema offers a collaborative audio-visual experiment at the Central Presbyterian Church via a long list of Amsterdam filmmakers blending abstract cinema, structural experiments, found footage, chemical film exploration, and laser action. If that's not your scene, bounce over to Barcelona and get down to all flavors of Dutch dance music, like Torus' stilted, horrorcore beats. He'll be joined by Akka, who makes the subtle, groovy kind of dubstep before American infiltrators like Skrillex stole the definition. Headliner Jameszoo comes equipped with enough seasick breakbeats to make sure you'll be walking with a limp Wednesday morning. – Luke Winkie

Sounds from Chile

8pm, Icenhauer's
Though rightly known as a cesspit of spitting thrash and doom, Tuesday night Chile teases a softer side with two acts from the northern seaside city Valparaíso: dream-pop slackers Fotogramas, who provoke spirits in the Rainey Street haunt with December's No Me Despierten, and Lisergico frontwoman Jurel Sonico's would-be solo project Adelaida, which quickly mutated into a fearsome noise-rock power trio anticipating a sophomore LP. Leading the Santiago contingent, Constanza Espina and Soledad Puentes flash their collective alter-ego Marineros, summoning night terrors with November's "existentialist love pop" single "Cae la Noche." Meanwhile Matias Cena, the country's lovable rambler, plays Jack Johnson better than the beach bum himself on last April's even-keeled Casa Sin Fuego. Fivepiece pop rock posse Prefiero Fernandez luxuriates in flirty dance on fourth LP Mineral. When Coffeehouse formed in 2011, the pop rock quartet immediately set its sights on an international audience, and cashed in with debut Square One a year later. They return home to storm Lollapalooza in Santiago, the best of both worlds. – Nina Hernandez

UK Brigade

8pm, Buffalo Billiards
You can't help but love a band that names itself after a reverb pedal, and true to their Mancunian roots, Spring King's wildly infectious combination of Britpop riffs and kicky little pop song melodies echoes around your brainpan before exiting your suddenly flailing limbs like sonic electroshock therapy. "Mumma" takes early Supergrass piano grooves and adds pogo. London up-and-comers Gengahr take a different tack to achieve similarly soulful chaos, dropping props to their fave horror and gore video nasties via ethereal electronics and looped-up synth soundscapes overlaid with singer Felix Bushe's moonscape falsetto croon. "Fill My Gums With Blood" is some kind of wonderful new bummer-teen anthem, while their video for "She's a Witch" recalls Hammer studios' glory days. Stratford-upon-awesome's Dry the River began all folked up on 2012's mega deep Shallow Bed (RCA), but 2014's Iceland-recorded Alarms in the Heart is stadium filler, complete with fist-pumping, epically transcendent single "Everlasting Light," which tingles like Mumford and the Edge scraping the hair off your neck with bold, bitter honesty. Brand spanking new track "Rollerskate" is a slice of East London fried pie and a pint of FuckYeah! – Marc Savlov

Huw Stephens/Music Wales

8pm, Latitude
Cardiff-born DJ Stephens is the BBC's new arbiter of taste, and while this night may be light on actual Welsh acts, his fingerprints are all over it. Rural Pontypridd's Tiger Please retitled itself The People The Poet in the process of smoothing their early Idlewild edges into post-Doves grandeur. File the delicate tones of sharply dressed East India Youth between Imogen Heap and Scott Walker. Londoner Kate Tempest, the only rapper to win the prestigious Ted Hughes Award for poetry, is a politicized heir to Saul Williams, tackling race and class in modern Britain with sly lyricism, while Manchester's audiovisual multiple threat Shura perfected chill-out soul before her first full-length drops this year. Back to Stephens' homeland for Catfish & the Bottlemen, the Llandudno crew crushing British working-class rock à la the Verve and Arctic Monkeys. Cardiff-based closers Until the Ribbon Breaks started as an art experiment, re-scoring movies, but the Run the Jewels-approved electronic trio has refined its cool/sleazy sound. – Richard Whittaker


8pm, Dirty Dog Bar
SXSW can be a headbanger's dream. Excessum storms out of Theodore, Ala., with two self-released discs of groovy thrash/death aggression, including 2014's To Hell We Fall. Houston's occult doom bashers Venomous Maximus took heshers by storm a couple of years ago with Beg Upon the Light; this year brings new crushers from its forthcoming LP Firewalker. Brooklyn's adolescent thrash trio Unlocking the Truth made headlines last year for signing to Sony, but it's the scary degree of skill pouring from these eighth graders' fingers that earned spots opening for Guns n' Roses and Motörhead. One of Austin's hardest-working metal acts, Dead Earth Politics continues perfecting its omnivorous extreme metal blend on new EP Men Become Gods. Atlanta's Royal Thunder return to SXSW loaded for bear, its Southern psych-doom expanding even further beyond previous borders on the upcoming Crooked Doors. Its second LP in the mixing stages, southern Cali's Betrayal brings down the roof with metallicized hardcore. – Michael Toland


8pm, Blackheart
Before he became Son Little, Philly's Aaron Livingston sang on the latest Roots album and teamed up with producer RJD2 to form Icebird. Under his new moniker, Son Little released last year's Things I Forgot, an EP of yearning soul and deep blues with subtle touches of electronic experimentation. The Windy City comes well represented with the dark rhymes of up-and-coming rapper Martin $ky and BJ the Chicago Kid, the soulful singer seemingly on speed dial of every big name in hip-hop. Sacramento songstress Victoria Monet serves sultry R&B with a voice that's led to collaborations with some of the biggest industry initials in T.I. and B.O.B. More initials come from L.A. singer PJ, who's also worked with B.O.B., having penned singles for the Atlanta rapper as well as Wiz Khalifa. The Atlantic Records signee has a fresh take on R&B that's both swagged out and totally down-to-earth. Detroit femcee Dej Loaf rounds out the bill with a deceptively laid-back flow that's full of menace: "Let a nigga try me, I'm gonna get his whole m'fuckin' family/ And I ain't playing with nobody, fuck around and I'ma catch a body." – Thomas Fawcett

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