The storm that is South By has loomed over the horizon for months now, slowly creeping closer as the days wore on, yet still so seemingly far away. The rains came, and the temperatures dropped, and everyone retreated into their holes to wait for spring to arrive. And, like magic, it has, just in time for SXSW. The weather is 74 degrees and sunny, and the hordes of people wearing badges have arrived to talk tech and education and film and some people are probably here for the music part, too, which hasn't technically started yet but there are already some cool shows happening so it may as well have. Maybe you're one of those people here in town, in which case you've probably already got a packed itinerary, or maybe you live here and you're looking to avoid as many unruly crowds as you can, but here are some no-wristband-required shows that are worth making some time for on your agenda.
Starting things off today is Yeast by Sweet Beast, "a festival of experimental, adventurous, and psychedelic music." The lineup features "the freakiest experimental music west of the Mississippi"; with bands like Goat of All Texas, Black Sun Rising, Andy Hendrix and the Skwaalarmalar Machine, and others, this sounds like it might very well be true. I confess that I don't know any of those bands, but Chain Drive shows are always a good blast of raw, frontier-expanding fun. The show continues on Sunday, with performances by Suspirians, Breakdancing Ronald Reagan, Ouiness, and more.
On Monday and Tuesday, Hotel Vegas is the place to be. Monday's Do512-sponsored event features Moon Duo, Thee Oh Sees, Jacco Gardner, Meatbodies, and many others. Also on Monday: Hotel Vegas-sponsored "bruise cruise" shows, which will be worth checking out if only to see Destruction Unit play on a boat. D-Unit offered one of the most memorable South By performances of the last few years when they played at 4 am on the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge amid exploding firecrackers back in 2013, and Lady Bird Lake offers a new opportunity to up the ante. Tuesday's show features last year's spotlight-stealer, the Irish power-pop band Protex, who still kick all sorts of ass 37 years after first forming in Belfast in 1978.
Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo. Image courtesy of behance.net.
On Wednesday, Part Time, The Memories, and Guantanamo Baywatch play the Mohawk, bringing some West Coast vibes to one of Austin's bigger venues. Thursday at Farewell Books you can catch the Rhode Island damaged-folk act Ukiah Drag, local favorite Institute, and Swedish post-punk outfit Lust for Youth. Also on Thursday: the Monofonus Press showcase, featuring Chicago's blistering punk act Running, local no-wavers Spray Paint, and fields favorites Ghetto Ghouls.
By the time Friday rolls around, you'll probably already have seen most of your favorite acts once or twice, and a lot of the same bands we've mentioned above will be playing a whole lot of other showcases around town. But some highlights for the day include BrooklynVegan's showcase at Red 7, Marie Davidson at Cheer Up Charlie's, Lust for Youth at the Carver Library, the Holodeck Records showcase, and two shows at Beerland: a day show with Gap Dream followed by the Goner Records showcase with NOTS, Manateees, and other Memphis punk.
On Saturday, you can return to Beerland to see The Spits, Iceage, and Sheer Mag, or you can go to Mohawk and see The Blind Shake and Ghostface Killah. Fortunately, they're practically right across the street from each other, so you can even bounce back and forth if you'd like.
And on Sunday I'll see you at Uncle Doug's Chili Dog Fest, where you'll find me stuffing my face with chili dogs. Last year I ate four. Beat that.