SXSW 2011 Recap: Photos, Videos, and More

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The Dodos @ SXSW, the Parish, Austin, TX, 3/16/11

I got back from SXSW this past weekend, but I’m still in a bit of shock and awe (and recovery) from my five days down there. I’ve been meaning to post this since Sunday, but I’ve also been battling some kind of post-SXSW plague while trying to catch up at work.

SXSW is this weird, all-encompassing music industry free-for-all that showcases the best and not-so-best of this industry I have somehow found myself engulfed in. While I came away totally exhausted and fairly overwhelmed, I also managed to run a very successful Day Party (for eMusic at the Beauty Bar), see some solid panels, eat some great BBQ and tacos, and, of course, catch a ton of killer shows. I also put my new lens to its first true test, so my review below is pretty photo-heavy with a few themes and thoughts to pull it all together.

There’s really no way to include a review of every band I checked out, so here are my highlights:

The Work Gig:

My officially started on Wednesday with a work gig for eMusic at the Beauty Bar which I actually helped organize. Although I put a shitload of time and effort into planning and running the event, the one thing I didn’t have much to do with was the actual lineup. The bands chosen were more geared towards lo-fi garage rock and unique takes on indie pop, and not necessarily in styles I typically dig: Hurray for the Riff Raff, Grass Widow, , Ty Segall, Obits,

Killer Band, Lame (Conference Center) Scene:


Goddamn do these guys rock! I’ve liked them for years, but it was great to finally catch their live set. And I always dug them as a trio, but they’ve since added another guitarist. Justin expressed some concern on the change, but I think he really adds a nice dimension, especially in the way he can help deal with some of the proggy dual-guitar leads from their album material. Unfortunately, I had to catch their set at the Convention Center, which is just a lame scene. These guys should only be seen in a dark, dank, sweaty rock club. Next time, I’ll plan it better, but it was still a great set nonetheless.

White Denim @ SXSW, 3.17.11
White Denim @ SXSW, 3.17.11
White Denim @ SXSW, 3.17.11


This was another “convention center” set, but I wanted to at least catch a few songs from Sam’s new project while I was down in Austin (this was necessary since all of his other showcase shows were on Saturday, when I’d already be on a plane back to NYC). Luckily, Sam is from Brooklyn and plays a lot of local shows, so I know I’ll be able to see soon. In the meantime, I am seriously digging his new album, The Color. It takes a few listens to dig in, but I highly recommend it.

Yellowbirds @ SXSW, 3.17.11

Surprise (that I liked this) Set:


SXSW 2011 - Thursday, March 17

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Though I’ve definitely got a space in my heart for classic bands like the Cure and the Stone Roses, I never really got into the pop-punk aesthetic that the Pains seem to subscribe to. But sometimes seeing a band live makes your ears put two and two together and take another listen. And my ears dig it. Their sound has plenty of jangly lead guitar riffs, just enough punch, and the right amount of familiar major chord progressions to make it feel right and to let the super breathy vocals slide. I am now a fan of the . eMusic has turned me.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ eMusic SXSW Day PartyPains of Being Pure at Heart @ eMusic SXSW Day Party

The Up-and-Comers:


put out one of my favorite records of the year thus far, which I discovered entirely based off of an eMusic editorial recommendation….they’re actually the current “eMusic Selects” band (which is eMusic’s program to find and promote interesting unsigned bands). is basically the brainchild of Alex Schaaf and relies heavily on his stellar vocal chops and a loop pedal. The rest is all textures and rhythm and frankly, it’s a sound that’s very hard to explain through the written word. You just have to hear the way this guy crafts a pop song with his vocal loops. It’s very reminiscent of Andrew bird’s approach, but with a completely different set of textures and a sound that’s totally unique. Although they’re young and still have a few screws left to be tightened in their live set, I thoroughly enjoyed their showcase and hearing some of the new material. Also, seeing them live made me realize that their drummer looks just like Jon Fishman circa 1993….which is definitely a plus.

Yellow Ostrich @ Antone's, SXSW, 3.18.11Yellow Ostrich @ Antone's, SXSW, 3.18.11
Yellow Ostrich @ Antone's, SXSW, 3.18.11
Yellow Ostrich @ Antone's, SXSW, 3.18.11

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This is another recent discovery (also, as it happens, from an emusic editorial recommendation). I simply can’t get enough of their latest EP, Trust, which I recently flagged for one of my “Song of the Day” posts. But as much as I love their EP, their live show fell a little bit flat for me. I dug the tunes where they featured the trumpet, but overall, they lacked a little bit of charisma and the vibrant energy I typically want from a live show.

Generationals @ Cedar Street Courtyard, SXSW, 3.18.11Generationals @ Cedar Street Courtyard, SXSW, 3.18.11
Generationals @ Cedar Street Courtyard, SXSW, 3.18.11
Generationals @ Cedar Street Courtyard, SXSW, 3.18.11

The Rager:


I caught the tail end of ’s set, but what I saw was….raging. And this coming from a band whose music you’d never, really ever characterize as “raging” (it’s more of a softer, slower dance-pop which is mellow enough that some have even labeled it — gag — “chillwave”). But damn, these guys had the crowd seriously bumpin.’ I kinda can’t wait to catch their next show in NYC after this throwdown.

Small Black @ Red 7, SXSW 3.16.11
Small Black @ Red 7, SXSW 3.16.11

The Sit-Ins:
Jim James w/ Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Jim James. Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Moody Theatre. Nuff said.

SXSW 2011 - Thursday, March 17

John Popper w/
Seriously one of my highlights from the entire festival….not much else to say, just watch the video: