Here is a list of the ten bands you can't miss at SXSW 2011. You won't find TV On The Radio or any of those bigger bands here, you already know about them. Here are ten bands/artists I've seen live that I know will deliver if you choose to spend some time with them in Austin.
The Athens based band brings having fun with music to a whole new level. With their keyboard heavy hooks and high energy, it's nearly impossible not to become addicted to Reptar. This is the band to see late at night, drunk, and when you're ready to let all your worries dissolve into dancing.
I simply love this band. I've never been a huge fan of lo-fi music, but with Slow Animal, if strip away all the reverb and noise, you have beautiful pop songs. Their set is loud so bring some earplugs, but don't put them in too tight, you want to feel the raw power of Slow Animal.
Poor Seedy Seeds. Where do they fit in the "indie scene" with their banjo electro southern style dance, yet sometimes softer beautiful music??? I have no idea, but The Seedy Seeds are a sure bet when it comes to a wonderful live show. You're not going to see a band like the Seeds at SXSW, hear music like what they make, or see a more inventive drummer. Fresh off a new album, "Verb Noun", if you've seen them or not, put them down on your SXSW schedule.
The Holiday Shores are the type of band you've heard friends talk about, checked out a few tracks, and when you see them live you become their biggest fan. Jumpy guitars, driving keyboards, and crisp vocals make the familiar seem brand new. This is an afternoon band to check out, their music is perfect for a sunny day in Austin.
Very few live shows have literally taken my breath away and made me contemplate the meaning of life. Heavy right? I saw Olof Arnalds in a church in Louisville and her music could only be described as emotionally powerful. I'm man enough to admit that her dramatic melodies and out of this world voice broke me down and moved me to watery eyes. SXSW doesn't have to be all about the party, take some time to see music in its rawest form. Olof Arnalds delivers an opportunity to connect with music in a way no other artist can provide at SXSW.
You might know Arms frontman Todd Goldstein as a member of the now dissolved Harlem Shakes, but if ARMS keeps down the path they're currently walking, the Shakes will be nothing more than a memory rather then a precursor. All you need to know about ARMS is the track "Heat & Hot Water". Watch below and prepare to want to see them live.
How could I leave off my favorite act of last years SXSW? I caught Sharon Van Etten early on the last day of SXSW 2010 and while eating pancakes was blown away by the ease in which Etten bares her soul in live music form. It's just a downright honest concert. She's coming off one of the best records of 2010, "Epic", and with a full band now at her side, Etten is once again a must see show.
If you listen to the recorded material Sunglasses have put out so far, they come across as a catchy dance band who love making interesting sounds. After seeing them live, I was shocked to see how their show, while fun and dance driven, is basically a deconstruction/exploration of sound. These guys are smart and will provide the most musically interesting experience you'll catch in Austin this year.
I tweeted after seeing Gobble Gobble for the first time at CMJ this year: "Gobble Gobble just won CMJ". I don't care what music you prefer, you will have a great time seeing Gobble Gobble live. Water hydrates, the earth is not flat, Gobble Gobble is amazing live...facts are facts.
Mother Mother has a new record called "Eureka" which hits stores the Tuesday before SXSW (March 15th). It's far and away the best record I've heard in 2011 (so far) and after catching the new songs live in February, I would be a fool to put anyone else in the top spot. For some reason they get little respect from American bloggers, but over the last few years they have been destroying the Canadian music scene and building a huge fan base. If you don't see Mother Mother at SXSW, you should've just stayed home.