Over 1500 bands + 2 of us + mad organization skills = our top SXSW music selections. Enjoy!
Each year, I learn more about SXSW…what you can get away with, secret spots, best venues, parties to avoid, etc. The main goal being to be exposed to as much new music as possible while having a damn fine time. So far, I’m to be on the right track. Each year gets better than the last, which is difficult to believe since the previous was a fucking blast. The key is to be prepared. I spend months planning for my absolute favorite week of the year. I am giddy and the best feeling is walking down 6th Street on the first day with the warm sun on my skin and feeling the energy in the air. And I hate the sun, so this says a lot. Also, Mr Wackdelly will be joining me for his first SXSW so we have both been listening, planning together, scheduling and I’ve been filling his head with tips and tricks.
Check out my 2011 tips too, but you’ll notice that some tips are outdated (RIP Leslie).
1 :: Do not see the big acts (also on the 2011 list). Seriously, you spend all your time standing in line for hours to see a popular band that tours in your city multiple times a year, when you could be experiencing what SXSW is really about… fresh new music. The undiscovered gems are where it’s at! Over the years some of my favorite SXSW discoveries before they blew up were Baths, Cloud Nothings, Beirut, Warpaint, Of Monsters and Men and Grouplove.
2 :: Check out the free shows at night. My friend at Blue Sky + Hard Rock (along with Music Saves Lives) put on a fantastic showcase last year with free music all day AND night (including free delicious sushi). Be on the lookout for unofficial night parties for they do exist. I believe there will be even more free night stuff this year. (photo: Seryn at Firehouse Lounge & Hostel, 2013)
3 :: There is a new addition to the wrist bands you will be collecting during the week, the Guest Pass wristband. It is a free credential and allows you to get in certain venues/areas (that use to not require any credentials). More info here.
4 :: Be sure to check out Waterloo Records’ free shows from 3/12-3/15, but plan to get there hella early if you want to get in the door. Also, it’s a hike from the main 6th Street music festivities so plan for that and no RSVP necessary! Lineup here and more info here.
5 :: While the beers of the Pacific Northwest are pretty boss, I do miss old Texas favorites like Firemans #4 from Real Ale Brewing and the always refreshing Lone Star. I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it. Also, be sure to tip those great people slinging drinks behind the bar. They are working hard so you can enjoy yourself.
6 :: If you can find a rad band playing a tiny venue off the beaten path, pay the cab fare to check em out. The best shows are the smallest. This is easier said than done. I have skipped seeing some top picks due to location and later found out what I missed out on and that just plain sucks.
7 :: Don’t invest all your time and planning into one showcase or party… the venue will be at capacity, there was a schedule change, the distance is too far, gotta follow the friends, etc. Just have lots of backup music options. I usually plan 10-15 backup options, and that’s just for the day parties.
8 :: Twitter is one of the best on-the-go tools. Ask questions about line status, tweet a band to confirm times, or just see what’s blowing up at the moment in Austin (Prince, Bill Murray sighting, etc). Be sure to use the proper #sxsw or #sxsw2014 hashtags and someone is bound to respond to your inquiries. Secondary tools that work well are the SXSW app and a spreadsheet via the Google Drive app. I’m at @wackdelly if you have any questions.
9 :: Earplugs are a necessity. I wish someone (anyone) would have told me the importance of earplugs at a younger age. Anyhoo, I took 3 pairs of earplugs last year and managed to lose them all. My backpacked savior, Bruce, came to the rescue with a whole bag of earplugs. I might pay it forward and stock-up, then proceed to shove them in the ear holes of all the clueless youth.
10 :: Don’t be a stuck up asshole. Talk to people. If they are friendly and you are friendly, then keep talking. Buy them a Lone Star and chat about your favorites of the fest or suggest bands to check out. I was chatting and giving some suggestions to a lady and it turned out to be Ann Powers of NPR. I’ve met some really great people over the years at SXSW that I still keep in touch with.
All photos by Annie Cuce
While the posts in 2013 were far and few in-between, the music attendance didn’t miss a beat. It actually increased by a large chunk over 2012 (and I still know I am off by 10-ish bands somehow). It was a bizarre year with so many ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a single thing. While being in a different mindset will change ones opinions of the music, I just look at it as being more open towards music you wouldn’t have listened to otherwise. Anyhoo, I added more “analytics” this year, as I am a spreadsheet junkie (if you see me at a music festival, you will understand). I tend to be a money-tracker of sorts so knowing what is spent on live music in 2013 was eye-opening and I have no idea why it’s never been tracked before. I saw a plethora of free shows this year due to generous connections and music writing friends with a +1, music start-ups, secret shows, beach shows, and rad anniversary shows on the streets of south Seattle. It’s been a crazy year and I love it all and the people involved. Thank you.
2013 Breakdown :: at least 267 live bands :: est total cost of $951 (avg $18.28/wk) :: 7 cities :: 6 music festivals :: March was loudest month (71) :: Dec was most quiet month (4)
Anamanaguchi @ Chop Suey – Seattle WA 6/6/13
This show blew away their SXSW performance with the blasting sound, bright background and those cubes! Seriously, the cubes made me feel like I was gonna 1-UP with every song. Rad all around.
Balmorhea @ Columbia City Theater – Seattle WA 8/9/13
This band from Austin Texas is one of my absolute top favorite bands to see live. The music truly puts me in another place. Here’s footage from a different show:
Black Violin @ Scoot Inn for SXSW – Austin TX 3/14/13
Listening to all of the SXSW bands is a tough job, but when a gem like Black Violin stands out, you fork out the $25 to see a single evening showcase. This show the only money I actually paid to see a band at SXSW (since partaking in the day showcases mostly). Totally worth it! They are also playing SXSW 2014 (YES!).
3 Rounds and a Sound. With a Symphony. Enough Said. Photo :: Daily Blender
Byrta is incredibly unique with angelic robes and complete with backup singers. Definite stand-outs of the entire festival!
Dresses @ Tractor Tavern – Seattle WA 10/15/13
I fell in love with Dresses immediately. This adorable Portland duo has remained in heavy rotation ever since this show.
For A Minor Reflection @ 12 Tónar - Reykjavík Iceland 10/30/13
The best live shows are in tiny music stores with capacities of 30. The sound in this video does not give these post-rockers justice.
Geographer @ Wild Buffalo – Bellingham WA 1/14/13
They made my top live band list of 2012 also. Yup, that good!
Grouplove @ The Crocodile – Seattle WA 9/9/13
Ah, one of my favorite music discoveries… Every live show is better than the last which is mind-blowing since the first Grouplove show I attended was stellar!
These two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Kudos KEXP for this fantastic Reykjavík/Seattle match-up!
The High Highs @ Brew Exchange for SXSW – Austin TX 3/14/13
This band has been on my radar for quite some time. I was stoked to finally see them and then a month later back in Seattle.
Jagwar Ma @ Reykjavík Art Museum for Iceland Airwaves – Reykjavík Iceland 10/31/13
So, I’m really confused as to why this band is not HUGE! The live shows are fantastic with intense visuals and really great sound.
Retro Stefson @ Harpa Norðurljós for Iceland Airwaves – Reykjavík Iceland 10/31/13
This was such a super sharp and energetic show! Retro Stefson was one of our most anticipated Reykjavík acts of the fest and totally delivered.
all photos by Annie unless otherwise noted
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2013 band list
|A Trak, Aaron and the Sea, Aby Wolf, Air Review, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, All My Friends, Allah-Las, ALT-J, Aluna George, Anamanaguchi (x2), And So I Watch You From Afar, Andel King, Apparat Organ Quartet, Árstíðir, Ásgeir, Astronautalis, Avians, Alight, Balmorha, Baptist Generals, Bastille, Baths, BattleMe (x2), Bear Mountain (x2), Bellstop, Benny Crespo’s Gang, Benoît Pioulard, Billy Woods, Black and White Years, Black Violin, Blackbird Blackbird, Bleached, Blind Pilot, Bloodgroup, Blue Boy, Borko, Braids, Brushy One, Built To Spill, Butch Walker, Byrta, Caged Animals, Cake, Carmen Villain, Cashmere Cat, Cayucas, Chad Valley, Chrome Sparks, Chvrches, Clipping., Cody ChestnuTT, Constant Lovers, Conveyor, Daniel Hart (x2), Darwin Deez, David Bazan, Death Cab for Cutie, Delorean, Dessa (x2), DIIV, Dillion Francis, Doe Paoro, Dolly Parton Tribute Bands, Doranna bjornsdotter/Trouble, Dream Tiger, Dresses, Dude York, Duologue, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Electric Children, Elín Ey, Empress Of, Erik Blood, Explosions in the Sky, Family of the Year, Father John Misty, Fly Moon Royalty, FM Belfast, Fol Chen, For A Minor Reflection, Four Color Zack, Fox, Frightened Rabbit, Gemini Club, Geographer (x3), Ghost Beach, Girls in Hawaii, Gold Fields, Grand Hallway, Grant Olsen (from Gold Leaves), Greg Dulli, Grimes (x2), Grouplove, Hausu, Hello Wheels, Hermigervill, Hey Marseilles (x2), Hibou, Hjaltalín, How To Dress Well, Humans, Hymnalaya, Icky Blossoms, Islands, J Thoven, Jagwar Ma, Jan Mayen, Japandroids, Kajak, Katie Kate, Kaylee Cole, Kid Smpl, King Tuff, Kisses, Kithkin, Kiven, Lay Low, Le1f, Leagues, Limousines, Lord Huron, Love and Fog, Low Roar, Lucy Rose (x2), Lusine, M-Band, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Majical Cloudz, Mammút, Man Without Country, Maserati, METZ, Michael Kiwanuka, Midlake, Mikey and Matty, Mitzi (x2), MØ (x2), Mudhoney, Múm DJ Set, Mumford & Sons, Mylets, Myrra Rós, Nacho Picasso, Natasha Kmeto, Nine Inch Nails, Nissim, Nolo, Not in the Face, Odesza, Ojba Rasta, On An On (x3), Onuinu, Oregon Symphony, Oyama, Papa, Pascal Pinon, Petit Noir, Phox (x2), Pinback, Polyphonic Spree, Preservation, Pure Bathing Culture, Ra Ra Riot (x2), Radiation City, Radical Face (x2), Red Fang, Reignwolf, Retro Stefson, Robert DeLong, Rökkurró, S (Jenn Ghetto) (x2), San Fermin, Saytan, Sea Wolf, Sean Nicholas Savage, Seattle Rock Orchestra (performing Beatles), Sera Cahoone, Seryn, Shabazz Palaces, Shovels & Rope, Shugo Tokumaru, Sign, Sigur Ros, Silent Diane, Sin Fang (x2), Ski Lodge, Skurken, Slow Magic, Smoke & Feathers, Sophia Duccini, Star & Micey, Stealing Sheep, STRFKR (x2), Suburban Living, Sun Glitters, Super Water Sympathy, Sykur, T Bird and the Brakes, Tall Ships, Tape, Telekinesis, The 1975, The Comettes, The Eastern Sea, The Eels, The Grey Area, The Grizzled Mighty (x2), The Horde and Harem, The High Highs (x2), The Lumineers, The Neighbourhood, The Pharmacy, The Postal Service, The Rubens, The Tallest Man on Earth, This Town Needs Guns (TTNG)(x2), Tomo Nakayama (from Grand Hallway), Tony Lewis Trio, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Trails and Ways (x2), Trust the Lies, Úlfur Úlfur, Ultra Mega Technobandið Stefán, Útidúr, Vigri (x2), Villagers, Vök , Vox Mod (x3), Waxahachie, Why?, Wild Cub (x2), Wildcat! Wildcat!, X Suns, Y Niwl, Ylja, You Won’t, Young Dreams, Young Dreams, Youngblood Hawke|
Local artist to: Brighton UK
RIYL: Elliott Smith, Owen, Twothirtyeight, violins, acoustic
Currently there is very little information online about Steven Stride’s project, Chalk. His self-titled debut is expected out in September. This album will definitely be talked about this fall, for sure!
Local artist to: Oxford UK
RIYL: Beat Connection, Teen Daze, Jonquil, chillwave, lo-fi, synthpop
The music discoveries, live shows and music festivals of 2012 were absolutely incredible! I met so many friendly fellow music loving people at shows and festivals this year so it’s easy to say this was the best year yet for live music and making friends at the same time. I am at my most happiest, most at peace and feel most at home while being in the audience of a live show. It doesn’t matter if I’m laying low in the back with a beer and a friend, dancing in the middle or pushing my way up front eager to get some good photos.
In 2012, I saw more than 210 live bands (since I know for a fact that several were left off the list). Out of these, I chose the top 20 performances. I tried to cut it down to just 10 as in years past, but just couldn’t.
all photos by Wackdelly
20 :: Housse de Racket @ Coachella – Indio CA
This crazy-white-clothes-loving-jumping duo surprised me for I prefer their live performance to the album.
19 :: Jake Shimabukuro @ Skinny’s Ballroom (SXSW) – Austin TX
I finally got to see Jake live!! I was one of the few that got into this official showcase with cash since all those stuffy badge holders got in first. pff
18 :: Alesso @ Coachella – Indio CA
The Sahara tent was one of my favorites. The DJs were great, my top fave being Alesso.
17 :: Of Monsters and Men @ Hotel Vegas (SXSW) – Austin TX
I had to pull myself out of bed early for this early day show since Of Monsters and Men played right at noon. This set was worth it and was my first time to see them. Just lovely!
16 :: GIVERS @ Coachella – Indio CA
Probably the most fun band at Coachella! Up Up Up!
15 :: Bryan John Appleby @ Bumbershoot – Seattle WA
This dude has talent. No wonder the people from Head and the Heart love him so much.
14 :: Fly Moon Royalty @ Chop Suey – Seattle WA
Miss Adra Boo and DJ Action Jackson make up this rad Seattle duo. There is a tasty cover at the end of their sets that gets the crowd going. Yeah, you know what it is!
13 :: Tallest Man on Earth @ The Moore Theater – Seattle WA
Kristian Matsson packs a strong voice that could fill up two Moore Theaters. I like how he was messing with the photographer up front. Hilarious!
12 :: Parlovr @ Spill Bar (SXSW) – Austin TX
I listened to all of the showcasing artists before the actual festival. Parlovr was one of my top must-see picks and their live show did not disappoint!
11 :: First Aid Kit @ Coachella – Indio CA
Absolutely lovely. Period.
10 :: Tumbledown @ Manette Saloon – Bremerton WA
MxPx’s Mike Herrera has put together a fun alt-country band with members of the Rocky Point All Stars. I’ve seen them a few times in 2012 and they bring it every time.
9 :: The Drums @ Flamingo Cantina (SXSW) – Austin TX
I saw The Drums three times in 2012, the first performance being my favorite. I may or may not have a crush on Jonathan Pierce. That arm sway thing gets me every time.
8 :: Jeff Mangum @ Coachella – Indio CA
Jeff Mangum. At sunset. Heaven.
7 :: mewithoutYou @ Nuemos – Seattle WA
This show was one of the most insanely brilliant sets I’ve seen in a long time. Also the first time for seeing them despite listening for years and years.
6 :: Geographer @ Chop Suey – Seattle WA
Such an incredible set, they were the opener for this one. Geographer is swinging through Seattle the second week of January and will be headlining. Yay!
5 :: Matt & Kim @ The Neptune – Seattle WA
I’ve been wanting to see Matt & Kim live for years and finally have! This duo is by far one of the most fun bands to photograph. They don’t stop moving. Ever. I was in complete awww when Kim was dancing on top of the crowd and couldn’t stop snapping.
4 :: Icky Blossoms @ Nuemos – Seattle WA
I just love going to shows where one of the openers blows me away more than the headliner. This was the case with Icky Blossoms opening for Tilly and the Wall. Derek Pressnall, a member of both bands, has put together a fantastic electropop band that creates a sexy, creepy and poppy sound. I haven’t been able to put this album away for months.
3 :: Sufjan Stevens @ The Neptune – Seattle WA
It is no surprise that Sufjan has made my best of list again. His sound live is absolute perfection and the visuals and costume changes highlight that. I was in complete awe listening to To Be Alone With You. My year has been made. Thanks Sufy!
2 :: Balthazar @ TenOak (SXSW) – Austin TX
I did A LOT of my listening homework before SXSW and my top to-see pick was Balthazar. They were everything I’d hoped for and more. I’m hoping this amazing band from Belgium makes it back to the states and soon!
1 :: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs @ Barboza – Seattle WA
I attended this show and had no idea what I was about to experience. I was completely blown away! And I arrived to the show in a complete funk that night too but Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs pulled me out of it.
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2012 band list
|…musicvideo?, Air Review, Alesso, Allen Stone Andrew Anderson, Andrew Bird, AraabMuzik, Arctic Monkeys, At The Drive-In, AVICII, Awolnation (x2), Balthazar, Barcelona, Beat Connection, Beats Antique, Beck, Beirut (x2), Ben Kweller, Blind Pilot, Bon Iver (x2), Breakbot, Bryan John Appleby, Buried Beds, Campfire Ok, Childish Gambino, City and Colour, Civil Twilight, Coeur De Pirate, Cold Specks, Com Truise, Cosmetics, Crafts Spells (x3), Damien Jurado, Dani Elliott, Datsik, David Reynolds, Destroyer, Dinosaur Wars, Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg, Eighteen Individual Eyes, Electric Guest, Explosions in the Sky (x3), Fanfarlo (x2), Feed Me, Feels Like Yesterday (x6), First Aid Kit, Fitz and the Tantrums, Fly Moon Royalty (x2), Flying Lotus, Freelance Whales, Geographer, Girl Talk, GIRLS, GIVERS, Glen Hansard, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Gold Leaves, Gotye, Gregg Graham, Grouplove, Half Moon Run, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister (x2), Head and the Heart, Heartless Bastards, Helio Sequence, Hello Seahorse!, Hey Marseilles, HoneyHoney, Hooray for Earth, Hospitality (x2), Housse de Racket, Icky Blossoms, Idiot Glee, Irukandji Physics of Fusion, Jake Shimabukuro, James Murphy, Jan van Lier, Jason Lytle, Jeff Mangum, Justin Timbreline, Kasabian, Kevin Devine, King Khan & the Shrines, Korallreven, Lana Del Rey, Lefthead (x2), Lemolo, Lights, Little People, Loch Lomond, Low, LP, M Ward (x2), Madeon, Madness, Manchester Orchestra, Matt & Kim, Metric, mewithoutYou, Miike Snow, Mt St Helens Vietnam Band, No Rey, Oberhofer (x2), Of Monsters and Men (x2), Old Mexico, Other Lives, Parlovr, Pretty Lights, Pulp, Radiohead, Real Estate, Reggie Watts, Rocky Point All Stars, Said The Whale, Santigold (x2), SBTRKT, Sea of Bees, Sea Star, SebastiAn, Sebastian Ingrosso, Sera Cahoone, Shakey Graves, Sharon Van Etten, Shoot the Hostage, Squeeze, St Vincent, Strand of Oaks, Strfkr (x2), Sufjan Stevens, Tallest Man on Earth, Tenacious D, Tennis (x2), The Barr Brothers, The Big Pink, The Black Angels (x2), The Black Keys, The Civil Wars, The Dear Hunter, The Drums (x3), The Growlers, The Head and the Heart, The Horde and the Harem, The Islands, The Jezabels, The Love Language, The New Law, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Paramedic, The Persevering Promise, The Promise Ring, The Roots, The Seedy Seeds, The Shins (x3), The Spring Standards, The Torn ACLs, The Vaselines, The Wedding Present, The Young Evils, TheeSatisfaction, This Will Destroy You, Thus: Owls, Tilly and the Wall, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Trampled by Turtles, Tumbledown (x2), Ty Segall, Tycho, Ume, Why?, Wild Belle, Wild Flag, Wolfgang Gartner, WU LYF, Ximena Sarinara, Yann Tiersen, Yelawolf, Yellow Ostrich, Yuck, Yve Evans, Zammuto, Zedd|
Not sure if I am just loving this song lately or it is the current theme. Perhaps both.