Once again I’m finding that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to see good shows at South By Southwest. Just RSVP for a bunch of free parties (you don’t even have to be sure you can make it, just do as many as you can find), get there early, and have a good attitude.
Be prepared not to care if the line is long and you don’t get in. Just go hear some other bands in some other place. If you miss something good, you might find something else even better. I made some great discoveries over the weekend, artists I think everyone should see. We’re still in the early part of the festival and you can catch several of them. If you’re in Austin for SXSW, see if you can still catch them.
Here are my recommendations based on what I’ve seen so far:
I saw them Sunday night, March 11 at the Beauty Ballroom on East Riverside. I haven’t stopped smiling since. A friend told me to expect a hell of a show, but beyond that he couldn’t really get across just what they were like. And for good reason. They are well-nigh indescribable. I understand the band is from Japan, based in New York, but to hear them tell it, they are from another planet altogether. I could almost believe it. They wore funny costumes, a bit like overgrown Power Rangers.
They are at once hard-rocking and funny as hell. They mostly played a kind of punk rock – and it did indeed rock, but the music was only part of it. The main point was the performance, just loads and loads of silliness that completely swept up the crowd. Highlights included the premier of the video, “Star Bowling,” metal dog dishes and drum sticks passed into the crowd for extra racket, the bass player dressed in a big red alien suit jumping rope in the middle of the crowd, and human bowling. Songs were about such topics as “Get Glasses,” “Medium Rare” (How do you like your steak?) and “Mad Tiger.” At the end of the show they got members of Electric Eel Shock up on the stage jamming with them.
I would put these guys in the category of “Do not miss.” Catch their show if at all possible. They have several shows coming up, including Wednesday, March 14 at Elysium; Thursday, March 15 at Kebabalicious; Friday, March 16 at The Liberty; and Peelander-Fest on Saturday, March 17 at the Grackle. You can find a list of those here on Do512. Several free shows, several need RSVPs.
Just a very small taste:
Electric Eel Shock
This heavy metal band from Japan kicked a major amount of ass. They could really play their instruments and had a ton of charisma, especially the singer/guitar player. They were the second opening band for Peelander Z on Sunday March 11 at the Beauty Ballroom, but I would’ve been happy to see them as the headlining band. The singer is great at getting the crowd involved. The bass player displayed some great theatrics, playing atop the amp stack and at one point playing while hanging upside-down from the balcony. And last but not least, they had a hell of a drummer, who would’ve had my attention even if he had worn more clothes than the sock over his penis.
Beware if you can’t deal with seeing an almost-naked drummer…
Wonderful local singer I discovered at a showcase of folk and world music called The Amazing Obis Bros. Medicine Show the Butterfly Bar at the Vortex Theater Backyard (next door to Salvage Vanguard Theatre on Manor Road).
Hailey is a torch singer, a throwback to another, much classier era. She performed jazz songs and standards accompanied by a guy on electric piano and another on trumpet/trombone. She has a hell of a voice and is really cute. She could be one of the next big names to come out of Austin. If you like Adele or Amy Winehouse, you’ll love this girl. She will be performing at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14 at Waterloo Ice House at 38th St. and Lamar Blvd. I think it’s free and I don’t think you have to RSVP.
This is a local band from Austin. I saw them at the Swan Dive on Red River. Kickass hillbilly music. More country than country, like something straight out of Appalachia. They got so into it, they went into the crowd and did an acoustic set as the next band set up.
Check out the “Shows” tab on their website, WhiskeyShivers.com. Their official SXSW show is March 16, 1 a.m. at Maggie Mae’s, but they have a lot of other shows and parties scheduled. You can see ’em sans badge pretty easily.
An Austin band that plays what I would call folk-rock. Some traditional “folk” instruments like fiddle and ukelele, but with a trap set and electric keyboards. Some of the songs were quite catchy. I’m gonna keep an eye and ear out for these guys.
They will be playing Tuesday, March 13, 8 p.m. at Beale Street Tavern. That’s an official SXSW show, so you’ll need a badge or a wristband. Not sure of the time, but you can also catch them on Friday, March 16 at 5 p.m. at a Free Showcase which runs all day Friday, March 16 and all day Saturday, March 17 at Shiner’s Saloon.
That’s a free showcase, but you need to RSVP. And btw, it looks like there are a lot of other good bands in the. I’d like to see the TonTons, a band I’ve blogged about before – they’ll be playing Saturday at 4 p.m. You can get a schedule for that showcase here.
An Austin band featuring guitarist/lead singer Mike Wiebe of Riverboat Gamblers (also a member of the High Tension Wires and a standup comedian). It took me a while to warm up to them as they warmed up for Peelander Z at the Beauty Ballroom on Sunday night, but a few songs in I really started getting into them. They reminded me of some ’80s hardcore punk band I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe some of the Minutemen at their most radio-friendly, maybe a bit of early hardcore Devo? Anyway, they had a lot of charm and rocked hard. I’m not finding any more Ghost Knife shows scheduled in the next few days, but there is a nice list of shows Mike Wiebe will be involved in on this blog. (Including a free show with Riverboat Gamblers on March 16 and a free day show with High Tension Wires at The Grackle – again with Peelander Z).