Atash – best SXSW 2011 find so far


I was about an inch away from wussing out and going home early last night. Thank God I didn’t. I ended up seeing my favorite show of the weekend: Austin’s own Atash.

I went out for a second night on Saturday, hunting for unofficial and hopefully free music shows at South By Southwest. Started out feeling hassled. Forgot to get cash for parking till I was downtown, then couldn’t find a bank. Wound up on the west side of town when I wanted to see some shows on the east side and got bogged down in traffic trying to get back over there. Got to Domy Books too late to catch Castanets.

Wound up parking on the street and was paranoid about possibly getting towed or ticketed. Walked up Comal Street and found a free “Psychfest” showcase. Saw a band that was OK, playing basic rock ‘n’ roll, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Went back and got the pickup, headed west and kept getting caught in traffic, finding exits blocked off by the cops, etc. Somehow I wound up north of downtown on Lamar and decided to check out Central Market, where I’ve seen some great free shows in the past. And voila! Best show so far.

I had heard of Atash before and thought they sounded like a group I would like, but for some reason I never checked them out. Now I’m going to have to see them again. And again and again…

It was very much a family affair. I saw a lot of little kids on their fathers’ shoulders. Dads dancing with daughters. One girl dancing with her teddy bear. A lot of the audience must have been from Persia or some other place in the East, because so many of the women were dancing using their arms and hands in that sinuous way that you don’t see among Westerners. I also heard people singing along to songs that I think were in Persian.

BTW, an Asian girl, maybe in her 20s, maybe a bit younger, REALLY knew how to dance. She was almost as big a star as the band. I almost wonder if they brought her along as part of the act.

Apparently the ensemble has changed over the years – I’ve seen some versions with sitar and tabla players and some with no vocalist. This is closest to the version of Atash I saw (in fact, they played this song):

You can find out more at

Also check out their Facebook page.


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One response to “Atash – best SXSW 2011 find so far

  1. Pingback: Top albums and artist discoveries of 2011 | The MusicMissionary

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