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
A year ago, the day before Valentine’s Day, I went to an Unknown Mortal Orchestra show and fell in love. Not with the band though, I already loved them long before. I fell in love with the guy who happened to be standing next to me. As strangers standing in the crowded, smoke-soaked venue, we found ourselves both happily singing and dancing to our favorite Unknown Mortal Orchestra song, “So Good at Being in Trouble.” Little did I know, this song would become the preface for our entire relationship… or should I say, him.
“Hey, what’s your name?” he turned to ask me. I smiled, debated his age and narrowly eyed his thick mustache and Hawaiian shirt. I laughed, entirely intrigued. “Did you catch Wampire before this?” I replied. “I was running late and missed them.” “No,” he said, as he bobbed up and down to the music, vigorously shaking his shaggy hair. “I was outside chugging Tecate.”
From that moment on, we shared an endless number of laughs, adventures, learning experiences, “I love yous,” and unfortunately more frustration, heartache and tears than should’ve ever appeared, especially in less than one year. Our relationship ebbs and flows went from timid reluctance, to comforting companionship, overwhelming highs and hope that falling in love can invoke, to disappointment, hollowing sadness and the heart-wrenching discovery of some incredibly damaging lies. Who could use a Tecate now (or five)?
A year ago, I made a Valentine’s Day Mixtape full of (you guessed it) Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Rhye, How to Dress Well, Sean Nicholas Savage, Blue Hawaii and more. Much has happened in life and music since then, so to keep the tradition alive, I bring to you yet another sinfully sweet Valentine’s Day mixtape. Let’s just say, Unknown Mortal Orchestra didn’t make the cut, and probably won’t for a very long time. However, yesterday, the day before Valentine’s Day, I went to another show (Sónar Music Festival to be exact) and once again, stood next to someone I love — This time, a very dear friend, fellow nomad, and former housemate from Ireland who met me in Iceland to help soothe my wounds with majestic scenery, the Northern Lights, a blue lagoon, expensive booze and of course, new tunes. So here’s to another year of love, or your attempt to heal from it:
Wet is a new up-and-coming Brooklyn-based trio creating some steady hubbub in the music blogosphere. They’re producing ridiculously catchy, beautiful and refreshing pop songs (with heavy themes) at a consistent rate. Today, their self-titled EP is officially out (stream below), which has been a bright and sparkling joy in my listening life as of late.
If you’re gallivanting through the madness at CMJ Music Marathon in NYC this week, Wet is playing tonight (10/15) at the Bowery Ballroom, The Fader Fort at Converse Rubber Tracks, as well as the Santos Party House for Neon Gold’s Showcase (with HEARTS) on Thursday, 10/17, and Baby’s All Right on Friday, 10/18.