SXSW Preview: The International Roster

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It’s January! You know what this means? SXSW is excruciatingly close. This also means a lot of new bands being announced. Today marks the third round of bands that are announced and obviously there are a lot of bands to sift through. This year, I’ve decided to take a more international approach when looking at this current group of bands. Blame it on the Olympics.

HyunA (Korea)
Hyuna is a 21 year old South Korean pop star. She describes her music as “performance orientated music”. What does that mean? I don’t know. You might have seen her in Psy’s Gangnam Style video. Her is her own video It’s almost nsfw:

It’s some sort of hip hop music, I guess, and some of it is in English and has that Gwen Stefani-Holla Back girl vibe. I can guarantee you wherever she is playing, it will be a completely shitshow and that bar will contain basically every Korean in Texas. In other words, a hell of a good time.

HolySexyBastards (Venezuela)
This Venezuelan rock band sounds like Crispian Mills fronting the Black Keys. It’s actually pretty good in a dirty, dirty way.

Imarhan (Mali)
This is a group from Mali or Algeria, so you can bet Damon Albarn has already made friends with them. They have made quite a long trek over, so it might be worthwhile to see them.

La Canalla (Spain)
A band based out of Sevila, which just happens to be one of my favorite cities in Spain. The food there is fantastica and it is absolutely gorgeous. This group combines jazz, cabaret and Andalusian folk music. Basically, if you are at this showcase in Austin, you can close your eyes and pretend you are in Spain. Not a bad experience if you ask me.

Natig Rhythm Group (AZERBAIJAN)
From the country Azerbaijan, comes this poly rhythmic group. How can you resist a band that has this on their page:

Words to live by indeed.

These few bands just highlight the sheer amount of diversity at SXSW. It’s not all just hipster Brooklyn bands or basement nerds with laptops. So I highly encourage you to go check out the lineup and find something truly interesting.

Round three list here

Song of the Day + mini SXSW review: Lucius – Don’t Just Sit There

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According to Google the word ‘dulcet’ is often used ironically. I was going to start off this song of the day by saying that if you want to understand the meaning of the phrase ‘dulcet tones’ you should listen to Lucius frontwomen Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, but now that Google has hit me with some knowledge I’m not sure that’s what I actually want to say. Regardless, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Brooklyn based fivesome Lucius sound lovely on “Don’t Just Sit There.” Give it a listen – they’re currently on tour, here are some tour dates:

4/25: Buffalo, NY @ University of Buffalo
4/26: Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
4/27: Detroit, MI @ Garden Bowl
4/30: Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater Pub
5/1: Springfield, IL @ The Radon Lounge
5/2: Chicago, IL @ Schubas
6/1: Nelsonville, OH @ Nelsonville Music Festival (what? where?)

Ricky’s note
The picture above took place in Austin. Lucius played a set at a free taco breakfast at SXSW at the Moody Theatre. Despite the fact that 99.9% of the people (including us) were there for free breakfast tacos, Lucius still managed to capture the attention of some of the crowd with what I can only say is talented harmonies. They even had the balls to try to sing a capella for their last track, which kinda worked out well for the thirty people who can hear them over the chit chat. A pleasant way to start off the day.

SXSW Roundtable, a Final Recap: What we loved, hated, etc.

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Billy Bragg

Another year, another SXSW. No trip in the deep south post festival this year. Honestly, I don’t even know how we survived a one week road trip after South By last year. We are definitely getting old. Having had some time to reflect, the four of us came up with some of our moments in Austin, Texas.

Lianne La Havas

Favorite SXSW Moment

Gary: When the big guy at Lianne la havas’ concert shouted out: I’m not too old for you!

Derek: Two-way tie: Bastille @ Filter vs. The Specials At Hype Hotel

Paul: Watching former Hawkwind member Nik Turner and his band run through the entire Space Ritual album at Rebel’s Honky Tonk was entertaining and also slightly surreal. Also, not sure if “favourite” is the word for it, but seeing Harouki Zombi’s DJ set/burlesque performance was certainly something I won’t be forgetting too soon. Not quite what i was expecting, but given the band’s connection to Of Montreal, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Ricky: Seeing hordes of Korean line up outside of the Elysium, then entering to see a dive bar full of Koreans all waiting for K-pop superstars F(x) to play was definitely one of my highlights, probably the least SXSW crowd ever at SXSW, but their enthusiasm was infectious. Seeing Sharon Jones teach the crowd about various dancing techniques from the 60’s also another highlight. That woman can move.

Favourite Act of SXSW

Gary: A draw between The Staves and the Milk carton kids. Both were hilarious between songs. Take the Milk carton kids’ stand-up comedy against the harmonies from the Staves. Or the former’s quick guitar picking vs the latter’s denouncement of god in a church.

Derek: Cayucas

Paul: Billy Bragg. Also, The Specials and The Skatalites reminded me that old school ska is sometimes pretty great

Ricky: Hard to beat a Tim Wheeler acoustic set where he play’s all the best Ash songs.

Most Disappointing Act

Ricky: Given their epic meltdown and resulting tour cancellations, it’s hard to place Foxygen at complete fault for their shows at SXSW, but given their debut album, it was definitely a disappointment. Youth Lagoon was boring, but I’m almost disappointed in myself to think that their show might of been good.

Paul: DIIV didn’t do much for me live, although I do have to give kudos to frontman Zachary Cole Smith for the honesty of his mid-festival twitter rant.

Derek: Yelawulf.

Gary: Youth lagoon. They were on the stage 10 min late and was so lethargic that they barely lifted their heads to look at the audience.

Breakout Act

Gary: BOY. Never heard of them prior, but I’m thoroughly impressed by the songwriting as well as the live set. See my review.

Derek: Lemolo

Paul: Doritos. I expect lots of bigger and bolder things from them. Or, if you want a serious answer, CHVRCHES.

Ricky: John Fogerty’s son. Just kidding, let’s go with Bastille. Big anthems and British. Those seem to be a great formula for success. Also, the security guards at the Black Lips show, because they went HAM on everyone at the end of the show. Must be training for MMA or Navy Seals or something. Lay off the roids, bro.

SXSW, highly recommended as usual. A must go for music fans.

SXSW Quick Thoughts: Cayucas, Kitten, Savages, Toy and more

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | 1 Comment


Here are some quick thoughts on other SXSW acts I saw.

DIIV, Mohawk Lounge – These guys had a rather long sound check and their shoegazey-distorted indied rock sound didn’t really do much for me. I found out later that they had been moved from Red Eye Fly so that the Polyphonic Spree can have a two hour set. Anytime you are an up and coming band that gets moved from one venue to another in favorite of a cult-twee band, you have a right to be upset and thrown off your game, I guess. It should be noted that Zach Cole posted a massive rant on twitter during SXSW criticizing the whole thing for commercialism. I am surprised that he was surprised at this. I guess he didn’t see the giant Doritos stage when he was coming in.

Foxygen, Hype Hotel – One of my biggest disappointments at SXSW. Foxygen’s retro psych-rock album was the album that MGMT should have made after their initial debut. Foxygen’s showcase at the Hype Hotel was mired by technical problems, buoyed by a sound check that seemed to last forever. Foxygen’s set was delayed by almost an hour and the crowd was definitely getting restless. It was probably not the band’s fault. The vocals were too loud and it would appear that Sam France was off key and honestly just sounded like a glorified karaoke singer up there behind his keyboards. Maybe it was on set improvisation, and while that might be okay on any other day, at South By, it just adds aggravation to exhausted and probably drunk crowd. Considering they basically had a meltdown on stage the following night, I am guessing these performances are an anomaly. I hope so, because I really liked their album.

Kitten, Cheer Up Charlies – Playing a 1:00 pm slot at SXSW is what most people would call “paying your dues”. The crowd is usually inattentive, still trying to recover from a hangover or trying to score free booze or just trying to figure out their schedule for the rest of the day. It takes a special something to wake the crowd up. Chloe Chaidez of the rock act Kitten might be one of those special something. Despite early technical issues, the firecracker of a singer just lit up the tiny stage at Cheer Up Charlies with all the head banging and hip gyrating moves that you can fit in half an hour. I have to mention she gave one of the photographers probably the best photo gigs of his life. The band performed with a intensity usually reserved for a bigger show and definitely woke up a few people in the crowd with her moves and vocals. I will say that some of the band members decisions to make black sweaters on a hot Texas afternoon had me questioning their senses, but you don’t need senses to pull off the good hard rock they delivered.

Cayucas, Cheer Up Charlies – If there was ever a band whose music made you want to quit your job, take up surfing and drink a fruity drink on a beach, it might be Cayucas. Their debut album Bigfoot will soundtrack many summer parties and while their live show doesn’t really deviate from the album form, listening to this band play an outdoor stage at 2 pm on a sunny Texas day in March is kind of perfect.

Youth Lagoon, Club Deville – ZZZZZZZZZzzzzz. Should have known. The band played a short set because Trevor Powers lost his voice, but still.

Savages, Club Deville – It’s a wonder that they would put Youth Lagoon right after Savages because those two bands are at the opposite ends of the energy spectrum in terms of live shows. With her shaved head and ever so manic stage moves, lead singer Jehnny Beth goes almost full Ian Curtis on stage. An intense performance that backs up the preceding hype that the London quartet carried with them to this festival and beyond.

Toy, Cedar Courtyard – I’m sad that Toy lead singer Tom Dougall didn’t bring his super hot sister (Rose, of the Pipettes) to Austin. Sporting the most British of haircuts, Tom Dougall and friends are known as Toy, a band that tried to bring back shoegaze in all it’s glory last year with their self titled debut. Not only did their music channel the period, their live show did too, as the band was mostly content on standing in one spot to play their tracks. While not stimulating on stage, the band’s release was good enough that the music maintained my attention.