Ah, South by Southwest – What a glorious, messy, magical music festival. It’s held in Austin, Texas, but don’t let the big T deter you (sorry, Tejas). Austin is a funky town full of friendly folks, tattooed cyclists, glorious BBQ, breakfast tacos, a plethora of music fests, and a lot of innovative startups. Austin is a strange cross between Portland and San Francisco, with some hot sauce on top.
I attended my very first SXSW last year (not ashamed to admit I hadn’t been up until then; you gotta start somewhere), and while people love to exclaim that it’s “not what it used to be,” that it’s become “too corporate,” and it’s “way too big now,” all of these points are probably very valid, it has been around since 1987, after all. However, you can still have a good time. Why? Because more than 2,000+ bands flock to the city to play for everyone, each other, and everywhere. Plus, there are usually free tacos and beer. No complaints! You can also rock out to a Finnish goth band in a burger joint, see your guilty pleasure Danish bubblegum pop princess perform in laundry mat, mosh your way around a bridge at 3 am to the most hype-worthy of punk bands and meet a lot of interesting people. I did all of the above last year and it was perfect, despite the moans of what SXSW “used” to be.
This year? I opted to travel to Iceland and London instead and had merely 3 hours of vacation left by the time SXSW planning came about (a good 4-6 months in advance). Alas, it just wasn’t gonna happen. Am I moping? A bit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t jump on the SXSW bandwagon and write about the latest and greatest bands I hope those who are attending, have the chance to see. If you haven’t seen your Facebook and Twitter feeds blow up with SXSW updates yet, you will soon. The music portion of the fest is going on now (March 11-16th). So, whether you’re in the thick of the madness or listening from the sidelines, here are some of this year’s SXSW 2014 must-see (or listen to) bands.
p.s. Did you know that Coco Stereo is on da radio? You do now! “Cuckoo for Coco’s Pop Underground” airs on BFF.fm every Sunday, 11 am – noon PST. I played a special SXSW must-see bands edition last week. Here it is in all its gloriousness + a handful more I couldn’t cram in one hour.
Tei Shi – M&Ms
Black Atlass – Blossom
Cherry Glazerr – All My Friends
Quilt – Arctic Shark
Chance The Rapper – Cocoa Butter Kisses (ft. Vic Mensa & Twista)
Mutual Benefit – Golden Wake
FKA Twigs – Water Me
Glass Animals – Gooey
Sophie – Bipp (*update* It’s been discovered at South By that Sophie is a HE. Ah, the joys of SXSW)
Speedy Ortiz – Everything’s Bigger
Wet – Bad Idea
Cate Le Bon – Are You with Me Now?
Diane Coffee – Hymn
Hundred Waters – Cavity
Ex Hex – Hot and Cold
Must-See SXSW Bands Pt. 2:
Angel Olsen – High & Wild
Trust – Joyland
Sylvan Esso – Coffee
St. Vincent – Prince Johnny
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
Banks – Brain
Warpaint – Biggy
Julie Byrne – Young Wife
Kelela – Do it Again
No Joy – Hare Tarot Lies
Phox – Slow Motion
It’s refreshing to hear that Trust aka Robert Alfons, the insanely talented Toronto-hailing goth synth-pop God can consistently keep up with his dark, seductive, drug-sick lurching-like music producing ways. Since the release of his stunning debut album, TRST, back in 2012, Alfons has been on what seems like a never-ending tour, but he’s back to making new music and blowing everyone’s minds and ears, per usual.
Trust‘s sophomore album, Joyland, described as “an eruption of guts, feels, and joy,” is due out March 4 via Arts & Crafts. He’ll also be embarking on tour with none other than the amazing electro-pop Queen, Mozart’s Sister. Could this get any better!? Have a listen to “Capitol” and “Rescue, Mister,” two new tracks off of Joyland, then commence to weep black tears of synth-pop joy:
Trust – Capitol
Trust – Rescue, Mister
If you didn’t think Robert Alfons, the Toronto hailing electro-goth synth-pop God (aka Trust), could get any more talented, he busts out an acoustic piano version of his beloved track, “Sulk.” The kaleidoscope-esque video, directed by Petra Collins, displays Alfons’ raw talent and beauty as a musician. The acoustic version of “Sulk” adds layers of delicateness to Trust‘s expected and addictive “drug-sick” lurching electro-goth that typically oozes with sex and synth.
Trust (sometimes a two-piece with Maya Postepski of Austra) has had quite a year. They released a debut album (and one of the best of 2012), TRST, and an EP, Dressed for Space. Having finished a whirlwind tour with Yeasayer, and a headlining tour in Europe, Trust is now currently on tour supporting The Faint (which I personally think it should be the other way around).
Watch and listen to Trust‘s acoustic version of “Sulk” now:
Trust – Sulk [Piano Version]
Feel like tripping out and listening to some insanely good electro-goth? Perfect, ‘cus Trust has a new EP and a psychedelic video to match. If you aren’t familiar, Trust is the Toronto based brainchild of nasty-synth masters Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski (of Austra). Their (mind-blowing) debut album TRST was released last year, and the sound is something of a dark, “drug-sick” lurching electro-goth oozing with sex and synth. To feed our need for more dark beats and Alfons’ deeply magnetic voice, Trust has just released a new EP (on Arts & Crafts), Dressed for Space featuring the same titled song (as heard from TRST), a few remixes and a new jam, Divine. Stream the entire EP on Spotify. They’ve also whipped up a music video for Dressed for Space that’ll throw you down a trippy tunnel of neon.
Trust – Divine
Trust – Dressed for Space
It’s that time of year in San Francisco when the weather starts to resemble something summer-like, the fog begins to roll out, and the leather, whips, chains, paddles, dog leashes, and domination comes a rollin’ in. That’s right – it’s Folsom Street Fair time! If you’re a newbie to the festival name or concept, The 13 city blocks long Folsom Street fair is an annual BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadomasochism) fest that occurs during “Leather Pride Week” in September. According to Wikipedia, the festival, and non-profit charity (!) has been in existence since 1984 and it’s “the world’s largest leather event and showcase for BDSM products and culture.” – Impressive!
Essentially, if you want to see some burly men, (and an occasional lady) [un]leash themselves in a literal shit show (YES) full of leather straps and eye/mind-opening behavior, the Folsom Street Fair will cure your need for kink. So, in celebration of this impressively large, unconventional non-profit and jaw dropping festival, I present to you a Folsom Street Fair ‘mixtape’ of sorts. It’s full of dark, goth-rock, electro synthwave that I’m sure anyone would enjoy, especially while getting choked, tied up, or spanked… you know, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Trust – Gloryhole
Light Asylum – IPC
Zambri – ICBYS
Gatekeeper – Chains
The Knife – You Make Me Like Charity (Cry Wolf Remix)
Pictureplane – Techno Fetish
Austra – Beat and the Pulse (NSFW)