SXSW 2011 : Pre-Festival Picks

bass drum of death

Garage rock junkies apply within. Bass Drum Of Death’s pure and unabated psych rock is sure to catch some people by surprise at SXSW 2011. Their new material is far more tuneful and engaging than their original demos, making Bass Drum Of Death an act not to be missed. -EB
Wed. March 16th, 2:15PM @ Club DeVille
Thu. March 17th, 11:00AM @ 501Studios
Thu. March 17th, 12:00PM @ Club1808
Thu. March 17th, 10:00PM @ Double Down
Sat, March 19th, 12:00PM @ Barbarella

beat connection

Truly Seattle’s finest. Beat Connection’s Surf Noir EP was a spectacle to hear, a rich blend of summertime synth vibes and top 40 vocal samples. Fans of Air, El Guincho, and Caribou will find plenty to love if you’re new to Beat Connection. Grab your dancing shoes and cut-offs for what is sure to be a party when Beat Connection take the stage. -EB
Wed. March 16th, 11:00PM @ Beauty Bar

james blake

A very rare stateside performance for the young London lad. Blake has taken the music scene by storm this year, transforming people’s notions of minimalism and electronica. This might be the only show all week where nobody says a word the entire performance. And that’s a compliment. -EB
Wed, March 16th, 9:15PM @ Stubb’s
Thu. March 17th, 1:00AM @ Central Presbyterian Church


The self-proclaimed ‘post-rad’ group are stepping out in a big way at SXSW 2011, taking their reverberated bedroom pop to the masses. After a string of excellent free EPs and singles, Coolrunnings have finally gained some well-deserved attention. -EB
Wed., March 16th, 1:00PM @ Peckerheads
Wed. March 16th, 7:00PM @ BD Riley’s
Thu, March 17th, 8:00PM @ Cheer Up Charlies
Fri, March 18th, 7:00PM @ SPACE 12


This boy/girl duo made the xylophone cool again in 2010, with their debut 7″. Beautifully simplistic in their homage to ’60s/’70s swing-pop, Cults went from internet mystery to Coachella billing in mere months. With their debut album slated for May, Cults will have plenty of new material to wow audiences with at their showcases. -EB
Wed. March 16th, 6:00PM @ The Windish Agency House

dale earnhardt jr. jr.

There’s a lot more to this Detroit duo than covers of Beach Boys tracks, and they’ll prove that at SXSW this year. Last year’s Horse Power EP was four tracks of perfectly constructed old school pop, and their live sound is just at polished and powerful. I’ll personally pay for your plane ticket if you don’t walk away from this show in a good mood. -EB
Wed. March 16th, 9:00PM @ The Phoenix
Thu, March 17th, 12:00PM @ Stage On Sixth
Fri, March 18th, 4:00PM @ La Condesa


“Amid swirling guitars and fuzzed out synths, vocalist Katie Lee’s voice pierces the haze… the listener lost within a dreamlike state all of the haze induces.” -JN
See complete list of shows.

swords of chaos

Iceland’s Swords Of Chaos are only in the States for a brief stint, and those in search of a good hardcore adventure should get a hefty dose of chaotic energy with a set by these Kimi Records signees. -VH
Thu, March 17th @ Prague

john vanderslice

His latest, Romanian Names, is just the most recent in a series of beautiful, hard edge folky rock records put out by John Vanderslice. Using classic rock influences to craft thoughtful, intimate songs for the past ten years, Vanderslice has emerged as a quiet leader in the indie rock community. -JN
Wed, March 16th, 10:35PM @ Red 7 Patio


“… Incoherent mumblings over grinding basslines and electronics — embrace the darkness, while lighter guitar elements and steady beats seem to offset that heaviness. The resulting sound is brooding and danceable.” – VH
Wed, March 16th, 7:00PM @ Red 7 Patio
Thu, March 17th, 10:00PM @ Nuvola
Fri, March 18th, 2:30PM @ The Phoenix
Sat, March 19th, 3:00PM @ Barbarella

the luyas

A Montreal band with ties to Miracle Fortress, Bell Orchestre, and The Arcade Fire, The Luyas use unconventional instruments like a French horn and a 12-string electric zither. They haven’t played that many US shows yet, so hear ‘em while their still somewhat under the radar. -DK
Wed, March 16th, 9:00PM @ Red 7 Patio
Fri, March 18th, 6:00PM @ Stage On Sixth
Sat, March 19th, 1:00AM @ Spill Bar
Sat, March 19th, 4:00PM @ End Of An Ear

floating action

Somewhere in between country twang and indie pop sensibility, Seth Kauffman, aka Floating Action, makes some of the most pleasing and blissful tunes. Hot on the heels of his new album Desert Etiquette, there’s no more floating under the radar for Kauffman. Catch him under the open sky with a cold drink in hand for optimal pleasure. -EB
Fri. March 18th, Midnight @ Mi Casa Cantina

kurt vile

Compared to most of the acts at SXSW, Kurt Vile should be considered a veteran and a legend. Having just released his fourth studio album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, Vile’s timeless sound has him atop the singer-songwriter ladder. There are plenty of acts at SXSW that are trying to usurp that position, but Vile’s the king for a reason. -EB
Sat. March 19th, 3:30PM @ Auditorium Shores Stage (Lady Bird Lake)

odd future

Billed by some as the next Wu-Tang Clan, Odd Future will descend upon SXSW with the kind of ferocity and media hype most artists only dream of. Awkward moments, racist jokes, and homophobic commentary will ensue, all adding to the brash hip-hop brand that is Odd Future. Catch them if you’re into controversy, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when things go off the rails. -EB
Wed. March 16th, 11:00PM @ Austin Music Hall
Fri, March 18th, 4:00PM @ Scoot Inn
Fri, March 18th, 6:45PM @ Fader Fort
Sat. March 19th, 8:50PM @ Mess With Texas
Sat. March 19th, Midnight @ Buffalo Billiards

morning teleportation

Having just released a brand new album that can most accurately be described as “kaleidoscopic,” Portland’s psych-pop attic-dwellers Morning Teleportation are on the up and up, and have the attention of Isaac Brock for a damn good reason. Expect a SXSW video series with the band. -VH
Wed, March 16th, 1:00PM @ Waterloo
Thu, March 17th, 1:00AM @ The Marq *
(* technically Fri, March 18th)

shabazz palaces

Shabazz Palaces is made up principally of Palaceer Lazaro, a member of Digable Planets, who controls the vibe completely with his cool, calm, and utterly entrancing lyrical abilities. Combined with a Middle Eastern bounce to the beats, it is not hard to recognize why they have the indie music world aflutter. -JN
Thu. March 17th, @ East Side Drive In
Fri. March 18th, @ Klub Krucial
Fri. March 18th, @ Red 7 Patio

the fresh & onlys

After putting out a few albums here and there, most notably in 2009 on Woodsist, The Fresh And Onlys have made a big impact at the end of last year with Play It Strange (on In the Red). It’s been one of my favorites from the last few months. Their cheerful pop sensibilities recall the ’60s surf rock era, with less edge. -JN
Wed. March 16th, @ 501 Studios
Thu. March 17th, @ East Side Drive In
Fri. March 18th, Dickies/Filter Showcase
Sat. March 19th, Mess With Texas @ East Side Drive In

the wooden birds

An Austin-based band containing members of the much loved, now defunct American Analog Set, this is a softer, more sentimental incarnation with Andrew Kenny at the helm. Saw them at Mercury Lounge in New York in September, where they played highlights from their beautiful debut Magnolia, and basically fell in love. They previewed some of the songs from their new album, Two Matchsticks, out in June, and it sounded fantastic. Can’t wait to see them live in their hometown. -JN
Sun. March 13th, 8:30PM @ Club DeVille
Thu, March 17th, 2:15PM @ Homeslice
Thu, March 17th, 10:00pm @ Red Eyed Fly
Sat, March 19th, 11:30am @ The Hilton

the dodos

I am a big fan of their driving, boisterous pop rock vibe, but have never seen them live. They are coming out with their fourth full-length, No Color, on Frenchkiss March 15th, and the few songs I’ve heard sound excellent. -JN
They are playing a ton of shows, the latest seems to be one each day. Check out their website for details.

big k.r.i.t.

Plenty of good hip-hop to be had at SXSW this year, but I’m all in on Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T.. Well deserving of XXL’s “Freshman 11” honor, K.R.I.T.’s no frills hip-hop is as smooth in its production as it is lyrically harsh. With Returnof4eva coming out later this year, K.R.I.T.’s shows should feature new plenty of new material for you to bob your head to. -EB
Sat. March 19th, 1:00AM @ Buffalo Billiards


These dudes have been in bands like Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and Pitchfork, and practiced for a whopping three years before ever playing live. After that many rehearsals, they’re guaranteed to put on a killer show. -KC
Fri, March 18th, Sub Pop Showcase, 9:40PM @ Red 7


For some, Eisley may be yesterday’s news, but this family-oriented quintet still never fails to wins my heart with their amazing vocal melodies and lush instrumentation. -VH
Wed, March 16th, @ Barbarella Patio
Wed, March 16th, @ 508 E 6th St.
Thu, March 17th, @ Dirty Dog
Fri, March 18th, @ 504 Trinity St.

gatsby’s american dream

Somewhere, someone thinks this is a silly preview to post, but Gatsby’s American Dream went off to spawn Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground, and this is their first time performing since 2007. For a nostalgic listen in Seattle music history, this should be seen. -VH
Thu, March 17th @ Dirty Dog Bar


Balmorhea is a band we are constantly clamoring about at REDEFINE; the band’s latest album made the top ten lists for two of our writers and band member Michael Muller crafted us a wonderful Western Vinyl mixtape. During a recent Seattle performance, the crowd was completely hushed in reverence to the band’s instrumental beauty. -VH
Sat, March 19 @ Lamberts


WhoMadeWho made our top performance lists of SXSW last year! ! “It takes a special ability — possessed by this Danish [band] — to organically provide full beat-and-rhythm-driven electro-sounding music.” -TV
Wed. March 16th, 5:00PM @ Barbarella
Wed. March 16th, 7:00PM @ Annie’s West
Thu. March 17th, 4:00PM @ Bayou Lounge
Thu. March 17th, 6:00PM @ Do512 Lounge
Fri. March 18th, 2:15PM @ Beauty Bar
Fri. March 18th, 9:00PM @ 501 Studios

turbo fruits

No pretentions here; Turbo Fruits are pure punk fun. Originally a member of the now defunct Be Your Own Pet, band leader Jonas Stein decided to trek out on his own, to (pardon the pun) fruitful results. Turbo Fruits are full of energy, and have a modern, rowdy take on the punk genre that will thrill any music fun-seekers. -JN

emil & friends

Modern electronic funk, rolling deep into the soul with smooth grooves and falsettos, bolstered by 8-bit noises. This is just feel-good dance music. -VH

french horn rebellion

Two brothers formed this neo-disco band in 2007 when younger brother Robert Perlick-Molinari, an accomplished French horn player, sought out older brother David’s advice and participation in his “rebellion” to the limitations of that instrument. Thus their dance-happy electropop sound was born. -DK
Fri, March 18, 11:00PM @ The Windish Agency House

the binary marketing show

“An experimental lo-fi project which falls somewhere between a backwoods campfire jam session and an electronic crapshoot in a dingy basement, the binary marketing show… will really, really appeal to a select demographic. Perhaps that demographic is you.” -VH
Thu, March 17, 7:00PM @ Sam’s BBQ
Fri, March 18, 7:00PM @ House Of 88

young man

Painfully honest and nostalgic songwriting that recalls childhood and days long gone, the music of Colin Caulfield is wrapped up tight in reverbed vocals and lies comfortably on a bed of dreamy psychedelic pop elements. -VH
Wed, March 16, 11:00PM @ The Parish
Thu, March 17, 1:00PM @ Club 1808
Thu, March 17, 4:30PM @ Lovejoy’s
Sat, March 19, 2:30PM @ Klub Krucial
Sat, March 19, 6:30PM @ Red Fez

man man

An unbelievably goofy, multi-instrumental, multi-vocal dance troupe replete with flutes, xylophones, and all kinds of fun instruments. Man Man pack every house, for good reason. -VH
Sat, March 19 @ Auditorium Shores

screaming females

Rarely does one band have such an excellent package: kick-ass guitar riffs, a spitfire of a female lead singer, and a live exuberance that makes every show exciting. If you haven’t ever seen NJ’s Screaming Females live, don’t miss them. -JN


Brainstorm make pop-influenced experimental music that’s a delicious blender-whipped amalgam of style. Don’t miss them. -VH

okkervil river

Okkervil River’s most recent output wasn’t even their own album (it was a collaboration with Roky Erickson), but these folk rockers’ earnest, lyrically-honest songs should be enjoyed in person. -VH
Wed, March 16 @ Red 7 Patio
Fri, March 18, 5:00PM @ Flamingo Cantina
Fri, March 18, 1:00AM @ Antone’s
Sat, March 19, 5:00PM @ Lustre Pearl

thee oh sees

Alchemically fusing ’60s pop, dirty Detroit-style rock, and homegrown Bay Area psych into a veritable witches’ brew of tunes. -AH
Thu, March 17, 1:00AM @ Red 7
… and a million unofficial shows.


Pure, catchy, and earnest indie rock that features a million members and instruments wound tightly into a well-oiled machine guarantees that Typhoon contribute to a good time. -VH
Wed, March 16th, 4:00PM @ Emo’s Annex
Thu, March 17th, 1:00PM @ Malverde
Sat, March 19th, 3:30PM @ Palm Door
Sat, March 19th, 9:30PM @ Central Presbyterian Church

the cave singers

Seattle’s own The Cave Singers definitely stand out amongst the crowd. Including members of Hint, Hint and the beloved (but disbanded) Pretty Girls Make Graves, you can count on the talent behind the sound. -RP
Wed, March 16th, 11:20PM @ Red 7
Thu, March 17th, 7:00PM @ Hotel San Jose
Fri, March 18th, 4:00PM @ Home Slice Pizza


Two Seattle gals, Rachel and Shannon, with punk rock centered around simple ideas (tracks are titled “Alcohol” and “Marijuana”, for godsakes), but it’s adorable, witty, solid, and remarkably casual. -VH

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