This is my final post to this three part series (part one here and part two here) about my first ever SXSW experience. This last installment will serve as a summary of the new music and artists I am most excited about since discovering them at the conference. The most common question that I have been asked about the trip was which performers we were able to see. That would be great to know, but you have to realize this overlooks one of the best parts about SXSW. And that is for every mainstream, commercially successful artist that shows up, there are probably hundreds of lesser known acts making their debut for the first time. Well, at least the first time in this type of capacity. And it’s this type of culture and ethos in the DNA of SXSW that make it an experience like none other.
Festivals are no doubt amazing, but there just isn’t any time and place anywhere else like these several days in Austin. And it isn’t just the performances, but the crowds. Many groups are blown away by the overwhelming reaction of fans in attendance. It’s not uncommon to see a band or artist walking around Austin or near the venue before or after the show. I was shocked to see well known, up and coming musicians setting up and tearing down their own gear, as well as hanging out with fans immediately afterward.
Ok so by now you are probably wondering, who the hell was worth checking out anyway? So glad you asked, here’s a break down:
Best Performance: Yelawolf and Rittz
Most Hyped: OFWKTA (Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All) and the Kanye West show
Biggest Surprises: Special guests at the Kanye event, Mars Volta reunion, Nardwuar interviewing OFWKTA
Most Memorable Performance: Yuck at NPR, and OFWKTA climbing on top of tent during set
Most Stoners: Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller
Most Energetic Stage Performer: Tyler Glen of Neon Trees
Best Hair (Tied): Tyler Glen of Neon Trees and Jonny Rogoff, drummer of Yuck
As far as the best new music we discovered this year, here is a brief summary of which artists we liked best, who they are, and why we dug them so much, along with some video not shot by us:
A Filipino, college aged guy from South Carolina making some of the best chillwave music in existence? Not much for labels, Chazwick Bundick doesn’t care what you call his music–psychedelic pop or glo-fi–as long as you listen to it. And with 80′s nostalgia fused with the lo-fi, sugary electronic pop sounds of this genre defying architect, you may find it hard to stop listening. Fans of Neon Indian and Passion Pit will most likely dig this.
This group of friends living in California got their big break by winning a contest in 2009. Known formerly as The Jakes, these barely 20 somethings got a chance to open for Kings of Leon before descending down to SXSW. You may have already heard their song “My Body” on the radio or from opening up for Minus the Bear last year. Think Kings of Leon, Foster the People, and Cage the Elephant if you are not yet familiar with their sound. They were also one of Spin’s top 35 must hear acts at SXSW.
There was a ton of dope hip-hop, so much of it that one person probably couldn’t take all of it in. Standing out among these was our biggest surprise of the fest, part of Yealwolf’s crew, Rittz. Otherwise known as White Jesus, we first thought he was a bodyguard in Yela’s entourage. That idea proved entirely off base as the southern mc preceded to annihilate the mics and throngs of people who watched in awe. His flows are so fast and quick that I have heard some complain they can’t understand what he is saying. There are many comparisons being thrown around, but do yourself a favor and give him a listen now before he becomes famous.
A Massachusetts band singing about how sexy it is to live in America? In addition to the staff of Spin being fans (they were named best new artist in October, and next big thing for 2011), this young band is led by lead singer who only refers to himself as Dom for fear of the IRS. This is Wavves meets Ariel Pink music for the masses, Nirvana attitude mixed with Blink 182 sensibilities. Did I mention the Pixies influence?
By far my favorite find, I don’t have enough good things to say about this band. From the drummer’s afro, to the chick bass player, to how much they sound like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth having made a baby together. Their sound is loud, raw, and passionate, their lyrics simple yet powerful. The roaring, explosive guitars and distortion feel like a time machine has transported you in 1993 era Seattle. Add their self-titled cd to your collection asap and be warned: you won’t be able to stop listening to it.
All the videos above were from others at SXSW. As I conclude this series, the following links are videos that I shot of some performances we were at.