Wednesday Showcases

Mekaal Hasan Band
Mekaal Hasan Band

FACE: The Music of Pakistan

8pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill
With a diverse lineup befitting a diverse nation, SXSW's first-ever showcase of music from Pakistan promises to be illuminating. The showcase is sponsored by the Islamabad-based Foundation for Arts Culture and Education (FACE), a U.S. State Department-funded organization countering violent fundamentalism with cultural exchange. We begin with Sialkot's Sain Tanveer Brothers performing alongside guitarist (and FACE president) Zeejah Fazli. Tanveer remains a master of hypnotic Punjabi drumming, sometimes spinning multiple dhols around his neck while playing. Hailing from the Thar desert town of Umerkot, Mai Dhai keeps the centuries-old Manganiyar musical tradition alive with her soaring vocals and dhol playing. The Pashtoon rubab is the focal point for Khumariyaan. The Peshawar-based quartet's instrumentals are fueled by a riveting mix of traditional folk and ambient influences. Performing songs in English, Lahore's Poor Rich Boy represent Pakistan's burgeoning indie field with thoughtfully eclectic arrangements and lyrical intricacies. Islamabad's Haroon is a bona fide pop idol, having sold over 3 million albums. After landing the first Urdu/Hindi pop song on MTV with Awaz, the British-born entertainer created the female-empowering animated series Burka Avenger. The Lahore-based Mekaal Hasan Band ends the night by combining classical Eastern folk and Sufi traditions with jazz and prog-rock influences to epic effect. – Greg Beets

Fight Like Apes
Fight Like Apes

Music from Ireland

8pm, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room
A day after St. Patrick's Day, the Irish delegation keeps the celebration going at Maggie Mae's, kicking off with the frenetic synth-pop blast of Fight Like Apes. The Dublin quartet finally followed up 2010's The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner with last year's Whigfield Sextape EP. New duo All Tvvins, project of Lar Kaye and Conor Adams of noted Irish outfits Adebisi Shank and the Cast of Cheers, keep the synth rolling in hearkening the Police, while aptly named quintet Meltybrains drifts through epic ambient experimental sounds from a recent string of haunting and atmospheric EPs. Singer-songwriter Orla Gartland rose to attention via YouTube before conquering UK and U.S. charts with her EPs Roots and Lonely People. The 20-year-old's powerful vocals and earnest lyrics carry a crossover potential fit for pop and roots appeal. After 2010's gorgeous debut LP, Early in the Morning, James Vincent McMorrow returned with last year's Post Tropical (Vagrant), his hushed, high vocals shimmering over subtle beats and recalling Bon Iver. Dingle quintet Walking on Cars closes out, revving songs from its upcoming debut LP and the dramatically pulsed rock ballads of last year's Hand in Hand EP. Good craic. – Doug Freeman

Hanne Kolste
Hanne Kolste

Smash-Up at the 405

8pm, 405 Club
Funk without the bass? Showcase openers the Inspector Cluzo manage to pull off this heresy with equal parts adolescent humor and musical aplomb. The Mont de Marsan, France-bred guitar/drum duo's fourth LP, Gasconha Rocks, arrived last month. It's a busy week for TV on the Radio vocalist Tunde Adebimpe. In addition to TVOTR's Austin City Limits taping and a showcase at Stubb's, he costars with Jason Schwartzman in the SXSW Film feature 7 Chinese Brothers. Given Adebimpe's extracurricular musical CV (Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band, Stabbing Eastward), count on being invigorated by this small-venue solo performance. Ditto for Tokyo's Haioka, who integrates elements of traditional Japanese music into dreamy ambient soundscapes. Colorful Seoul performance art duo EE combine electro-pop, video, and fashion to build elaborate multisensory set-pieces that are accessibly oblique. By contrast, Oslo's Hanne Kolstø utilizes a stark electronic backdrop as a thickening agent for gray-hued pop confessionals. Kolstø's resonant, Kate Bush-style vocals humanize the end product. Her fourth album, Forever Maybe, arrived in November. When he's not creating award-winning visual art, Austin-based show closer Sorne composes deeply atmospheric musical statements enlivened by his soaring vocals. The six-album House of Stone saga testifies to his vast ambition. – Greg Beets


Floodfest Part 1

8pm, Cedar Street Courtyard
"Good music will prevail," promised Filter magazine upon ending its 12-year run last summer. Co-founder Alan Sartirana kept his former publication's word, launching Flood magazine. Putting his veteran connections to use, the publisher procured Filter's longtime Cedar Street Courtyard locale for the start-up's inaugural four-day showcase. The bigwig lineup boasts Austin's indie rock titans Spoon, who headline Wednesday's nighttime showcase, the quintet still buzzing from 2014's eighth album They Want My Soul. Preceding is DJ Windows 98, better known as the Texan-turned-Canadian Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler. After Nashville's electro-house trio Basecamp and a pair of Dutch acts – singer-songwriter Dotan and Sixties-driven indie-pop quartet Taymir – plays Northampton's Speedy Ortiz, fronted by former University of Massachusetts composition teacher Sadie Dupuis. The quartet's noise-pop sophomore album Foil Deer is slated for an April release, a follow-up to 2013 debut Major Arcana. – Neph Basedow

Fede Graña
Fede Graña

Sounds from Uruguay

8:30pm, Speakeasy
Uruguay gave us "La Cumparsita," the most recognizable tango in the world. That and a thriving Sixties garage rock scene set the stage for the Montevideo mini-invasion headed SXSW's way. Traditionalist hip-hop collective AFC recently capped a half-decade of singles and mixtapes with 2014 debut Large Values of Hardcore, winning a Graffiti album award and launching into the international sphere. Named after the T. Rex song "Baby Boomerang," Boomerang combines Sixties/Seventies rock with electronic groove for a sound evocative of Phoenix on its fourth LP Engañamundos. Before starting his solo career in 2005, OTA singer/songwriter/rapper Fernando Santullo led a full life not only as leader of the bands Peyote Murderer and Kato, but also as a journalist and sociologist. His experiences come together on 2014's El Mar Sin Miedo. One of its country's most popular rock bands, Once Tiros recently took advantage of its famed live prowess with the concert CD/DVD Once Tiros 15 Años, showcasing crowd-pleasing working-class rock. Normally known as the leader of the group Old Story, Fede Graña put together Los Prolijos to highlight his luminous folk rock, effectively presented on the LPs Ansiedad and Feria. – Michael Toland

Rae Sremmurd
Rae Sremmurd

Ray-Ban X Boiler Room 006

9:30pm, Empire Garage
Ray-Ban and underground music aggregator Boiler Room converge hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and EDM into a blissful collision of sound. Montreal's electro-beat virtuoso Shash'U commences with Dilla-influenced production, while Parisian DJ/producer Stwo brings an innovative concoction of dynamic bass patterns and vocal samples. Soulful Oxnard, Calif., enigma Madlib continues to bless earbuds with four projects in the past year, including Piñata, the lauded collaboration with Freddie Gibbs. Fresh off the release of Sour Soul, Ghostface Killah and Badbadnotgood perform a jazz- and soul-drenched short set, juxtaposing the latter's slick chops with the former's charged rhymes. The slow build for turn-up ascends sharply once Tupelo, Miss., brother duo Rae Sremmurd crash the stage. Lastly, Montreal's genre-bending Kaytranada, a Haitian/Canadian wunderkind, gains considerable ground on the heavyweights by blending trap beats with house and contemporary R&B. – Kahron Spearman

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