SXSW 2013 Countdown: SXSW Preview Time Is Upon Us
I had a late start, but at this point I am absolutely drowning in the music of the acts heading to Austin to promote their wares at 2013’s incarnation of South by Southwest. I’ve been jigsaw-puzzling my schedule together for the last few days, and while I certainly won’t get to see half of the bands I want to see, I have at least gotten exposure to enough bands that maybe I can catch the other half next time.
Here are 10 must-see bands if you’re headed out to Austin to partake in the madness:
10. The Joy Formidable: I hesitate to put them on the list because they are starting to get bigger than I think bands coming to SXSW should be. SXSW should be left for the small bands to get their footing in the industry. If everyone is busy seeing Green Day, The Flaming Lips, and Sound City Players, there’s not exactly a lot of time left. TJF is on the cusp of that fame, but possibly just on this side of it. If you love ’90s Britpop like Lush but with a little more bite, then this is the band for you. By the way, Local Natives fits in this same category, as well, so I’m just going to skip them on this countdown even though I hope to see them at SXSW.
9. The Chevin: It’s funny, I don’t like Coldplay that much, but I often love bands that remind me of Coldplay. This is one of those. Light, airy Britpop with beautiful vocals.
8. The Sights: Another funny thing… I don’t like The White Stripes at all, but I’ve wanted to see this garage-rock quintet from Detroit since 2004, and either they never come to Houston, or I’ve missed it when they do. They sound like a fleshed-out version of Detroit’s super-famous stripey band.
7. Bear Mountain: This group from Vancouver Canada just happens to be my boss’s nephew’s band. They are quickly climbing the ladder of indie-rock success, with gigs here at SXSW, Sasquatch, and possibly more festivals later in the year. So I’m going to go score some points with the boss and check them out.
6. The Lone Bellow: This is my country pick of the year. These guys and lady from Brooklyn should be playing the Houston Rodeo. Maybe they will someday. Catch them and their gorgeous harmonies now — and later, remember I called it.
5. The Darcys: Epic, sweeping sound and gorgeous vocals from Toronto, Canada; these guys had the insane idea to cover the entire Aja album by Steely Dan, and the chops to pull it off. That said, I prefer their original material over the Aja covers. Also of note in this style is a band called J. Thoven, and another called Lord Huron. This widescreen-epic style seems to be the in thing lately, and I’m good with that.
4. Suuns: I saw this Canadian band a couple of years ago and look forward to another shot at catching them live. They do a little bit of a tech-influenced psychedelic progressive rock, a la Radiohead’s In Rainbows. It’s worth it just to watch how they achieve that sound with four people.
3. The Lonely Wild: I am very excited about this Los Angeles band, which sounds like the band members spent a ton of money buying and studying spaghetti western soundtracks and then melded that sound with the likes of Manchester Orchestra and Fleet Foxes.
2. LostAlone: I found this band thanks to searching for “Queen” on Do512. I’ve found searching for bands by looking up their influences to be quite fruitful, and in this case, up pops this band, with its comparison to Muse and Queen. Well, I couldn’t resist that — and now I can’t get enough of it. They deliver, though it’s a punk-pop delivery, so it’s more Queen via Manic Street Preachers and Green Day.
1. The Milk Carton Kids: This will be the third consecutive trip to SXSW for the acoustic duo (think The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel). I saw them for the first time last year, and they made an obsessive fan of me. Usually I don’t do repeats, because there are so many bands to see, but for them I’ll make an exception. Through endless touring and a new single getting exposure on IFC, they’ve doubled their Facebook fan count since I liked them last year around this time. I have a feeling they will double it the same this year, so see them now before they’re playing Wortham Center.