Looking at the gauntlet that’s in store for this year’s South By Southwest can be pretty intimidating, so we here at TUIW are going to try to sort through the noise and find the stuff that’s worth doing. This preview is by no means complete, and it reflects my own particular biases (free food, free drinks, and eclectic, left-of-the dial leaning rock), but here goes.
At last we’ve come to the heart of SXSW, four days of music, networking, and, with a little luck, lots and lots of free booze. There’s a lot to get through, so I’ve made an executive decision to only focus on day parties and other events not on the official schedule, otherwise I will die. Every band with a video here is also playing an official showcase at some point, so if you like them, head over to the SXSW website and search for them to see when they’re playing (or check their Myspaces):
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17
Austinist’s Gonna Get Down Party – 11AM – free – Mohawk
The Besnard Lakes just put out a really great record and they’re gonna be there, along with buzzy chillwavers Washed Out (you may like them more than I do). Plus I met the Austinist editor a couple weeks ago and he’s a real nice guy.
KEXP Live – 11:30 AM – free – Gibson Studios
KEXP is doing live sessions all week and they’re worth checking out. Best Coast (one of my favorites of the bands in town this week) and Crayon Fields stop by on Wednesday and The Very Best will be there on Thursday. Not exactly a “party,” but live music.
Brooklyn Vegan Day Party – 12:00 Noon – Free – Emo’s
This show really hits the SXSW Day Party Sweet Spot, with free food (including breakfast tacos), drink (vodka and Magic Hat!) and cool bands (Fucked Up, GZA, Titus Andronicus, Andrew W.K.)!
Terrorbird Media/Force Field PR SXSW Day Party – 12 PM – free – Red 7
This one has a really terrific line-up, headlined by Jersey beach-rockers Real Estate and chillwaver Toro y Moi (two bands who I’d make a point of seeing this week, and who you should have plenty of opportunities to), plus free drinks till 2!
Waterloo Records Day Party – 1 PM – free – Waterloo Records
Using the same setup they had for Spoon’s in-store, Waterloo’s going to be having some sweet bands out in their parking lot, including sure-to-be ubiquitous Florida rockers Surfer Blood (seriously, if I wanted to, I could probably spend the whole week seeing just them). But Surfer Blood + outside show probably equals a win.
IAmSound Records Showcase – 7 PM – free with RSVP – Malverde (400 W. 2nd St)
If you’re not doing an official showcase Wednesday night, this looks to be the place to be, between Sleigh Bells (who sound a little like Crystal Castles 2) and jj (mysterious Swedish poppers playing what could well be their first US show). Free drinks too.
THURSDAY, MARCH 18:
Austin Carniville – 12 Noon – RSVP – Mexican American Cultural Center
Austin Carniville is a three day party that is absolutely stacked with music. Like, it looks ridiculous. Among the bands are Major Lazer, The Walkmen, Diplo (presumably doing a solo set in addition to one with Major Lazer), The Very Best, and Cymbals Eat Guitars. Should be fun.
Consequence of Sound & Sled Island Day Party – 12 Noon – free with RSVP – The Compound (1300 E 4th)
Titus Andronicus made a really great album called The Monitor (I may even write about it later today), so you owe it to them to see them live. Why not do it here, where they’re flanked by Surfer Blood and Royal Bangs?
Eastbound & Found – 12 Noon – free with RSVP – 1001 E. 6th
No Kenny Powers, but this event’s Facebook page promises plenty of capacity and fun. The lineup is a nice mix of local acts (Ume) with bigger ones like Grizzly Bear’s BFFs Here We Go Magic or Delorean.
Insound Party – 12 Noon – free with RSVP – Club Deville
Since you already get all your music from insound.com, it makes sense to hit up their day party, which has Vivian Girls, Delorean, Liars, and $3 for all the beer you can drink (a good deal, since most free beer goes pretty quickly)
NPR Day Show – 12 Noon – free – The Parish
I’m listening to the Local Natives record as I write (on Michael’s recommendation) and it is damn good. If you want to check them out, this is a good chance to do so, thanks to NPR. They’ve also got Sleigh Bells and Surfer Blood on the bill.
Other Music Presents – 1 PM – free with RSVP – French Legation Museum
Whenever I go downtown on Saturday nights, I usually park outside the FLM (TUIW: For All Your Austin Parking Needs) and it has always seemed like a cool place, so I completely support Other Music’s decision to put a free showcase on their lawn. The lineup includes Vivian Girls-approved Austin act Yellow Fever, Pitchfork-approved electro-dance band The XX, and me-approved fuzz-rockers Dum Dum Girls.
The Austin Imposition – 7 PM – free with RSVP – Longbranch Inn
The Longbranch Inn is a cozy spot on the East Side that will host this excellent looking show, that’s a good badgeless option for Thursday night. The lineup includes Woods, who made one of my favorite records of 2009.
FRIDAY, MARCH 19
Morning After Party – 11:30 AM – free with RSVP – 1711 S. Congress
Free breakfast tacos and bloody marys!
Mexican Summer Gorilla v Bear – 12 Noon – day party free, night party is an official showcase, RSVP here – Klub Krucial
I’m having a hard time thinking of a less indie-sounding place for this show than Klub Krucial, but nonetheless, the Facebook invite promises free beer, Dum Dum Girls, and Memory Tapes.
Homeslice Pizza/WOXY Pizza By the Slice – 12 PM – free – Home Slice Pizza (South Congress)
Homeslice is my favorite pizza place in town, WOXY is my favorite radio station in town, and Wye Oak is one of my favorite bands coming for SXSW. What could go wrong?
Mess with Texas DAY 1 – 12 PM – free with RSVP – 1001 E. 6th
MwTX is basically a mini-Fun Fun Fun Fest, but this year its moved out of Waterloo Park. Day 1 features Frightened Rabbit (whose new album shows they really, really like The National), Billy Bragg, and Man or Astroman?
Fader Fort – 1 PM – free with RSVP – 1101 E. 5th
There’s no real reason why I put this here, since its running Wednesday through Saturday with all kinds of good stuff (free alcohol). Basically, RSVP and go hang out. Now enjoy this video of The Very Best, one of the many bands playing Fader Fort.
Village Voice Media Party – 1 PM – totally free and open – La Zona Rosa
This year’s SXSW All-Star Surfer Blood performs with last year’s All-Star The Pains of Being Pure at Heart but, perhaps most excitingly, Superchunk is there!
Pitchfork Party – 1 PM – free, no RSVP – Emo’s
Boasting a lineup stacked with all your favorite Best New Music acts of the last six months, the P4K party seems like a good chance to knock out a bunch of must-see acts in one fell swoop, including Memory Tapes, Surfer Blood, Best Coast, Neon Indian, and Japandroids
Dickies Sounds/Filter Party – 3 PM – RSVP for afternoon shows – Lustre Pearl
Though they say they’re only allowing RSVPs for the afternoon shows, if you’re crafty, you may be able to stick around for She & Him (Zooooooooooey), Broken Bells (Michael may pass), and Warpaint at the night show.
SATURDAY MARCH 20:
East Meets Fest – 11 AM – RSVP – Uchi (801 S. Lamar)
There’s bands and stuff, but more importantly, Uchi is going to be selling a whole bunch of really delicious sounds Japanese street food. Yes, they’re selling, but compared to the average price of a meal at Uchi, think of this as a value deal. Plus, Austinites The Octopus Project will be there.
Brooklyn Vegan & M For Montreal Party – 12 PM – RSVP – Galaxy Room
Another free BV party (with free food and some drink specials), this should be a good time. Its also got Roky Erikson with Okkervil River, Local Natives, Wye Oak, Jason Collett, and Plants and Animals.
Mess with Texas Day 2 – 12 PM – RSVP – free with RSVP – 1001 E. 6th
Day 2 of this thing is waaaay more hardcore than Day 1, thanks to the combination of Fucked Up, Andrew W.K. and GWAR (yes, really). However, pale people like me will find plenty of stuff to do as well, between We Were Promised Jetpacks, Japandroids, and Smith Westerns
Stereogum Range Life – 1 Pm – free with RSVP – The Parish
Ben Gibbard graces our presence with a solo set, joined by Wye Oak and The Morning Benders. Plus, its a party named “Range Life” so there’s got to be, like, a 50% chance Pavement shows up, right?
Phew. Stay safe, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, have fun, and be sure to come back here all week for daily coverage of the whole damn thing.