SXSW remains, for all involved, an opportunity to build connective tissue—chance meetings and shared memories with the other people on our industry’s allegedly shrinking iceberg.


Today, Our Man (Soon to Be) in Austin, Jeff Leven, Presents his Characteristically Ambitious Itinerery for the Big Week to Come
After a year’s break, it’s endlessly refreshing to once again be in the thick of the stack of schedules, grids and notes that is the SXSW battle plan. For most people who find a calling in the music business, life in music is full immersion and SXSW is itself a higher degree of full immersion for the fully immersed.

All that said, over the past few years there has been a brewing undercurrent of backlash against SXSW. One indie label executive whose opinion I respect has said that SXSW is basically Coachella with the bands having to pay, and over time I’ve certainly seen bands come back bitter, broke and burnt from crashing on floors and playing endless day parties for no appreciable career bounce. At one point Fucked Up lead singer Damian Abraham wrote an interesting piece warning bands of the risks of a SXSW trip in which he basically held up a mirror and asked artists to evaluate what exactly it was that they sought in their sojourn in Austin. If the answer was a record deal, massive media coverage or some other deus ex machina moment, stay home (with the occasional noteworthy exceptions).

Clearly, SXSW has become its own self-perpetuating force and a cottage industry that exists in its own self-made vacuum independent of the music business needs it might purport to serve. But I’m not yet so cynical to think SXSW has become another form of, as Joe Strummer so well put it, turning rebellion into money. To my mind, there’s still just a bit too much love and soul to write it off.

On a more subtle plane, SXSW remains, for all involved, an opportunity to build connective tissue—chance meetings and shared memories with the other people on our industry’s allegedly shrinking iceberg. There’s a cadre of people I more or less only get to see at SXSW, and there’s a sense of summer camp reunion each and every time. Like Grammy week, the summer festivals, and the other various semi-social rituals in our business it’s a chance to celebrate some bands we love, turn ourselves on to bands we’ve heard about, swap stories or just find strength in numbers—and at SXSW the numbers are always astounding.

Scanning this year’s offerings, there’s simply no remote shortage of options. In some ways it’s particularly exciting that there aren’t a whole lot of overt blockbusters. While there are definitely a few buzz bands playing everywhere you look en route to a spring of heavy press and summer of festival dominance, this year’s relatively light on major stunts—no Metallica at Stubb’s or Tom Waits in a movie theater. There’s less build-up and less marketing out of the gate, it seems.

Instead, there’s something almost anti-careerist and fun about some of this year’s major attractions. Andrew W.K. is at large playing party-shaman. Linda Perry’s new rock band is doing day parties. The visionary and irascible Bob Geldof is the keynote. As the Interactive conference has ballooned and a lot of cultural heat and light seems to emanate from that world, gradually the festival is becoming less about holding up the bar at the Four Seasons and more about running around with a scheduling app looking for something new. Frankly, it’s going to be tremendous fun.

Below, then, is the schedule that I at least have come up with for this year’s trip to Austin. Before I go into all the schedule details, though, as always, let me quickly highlight my clients who are performing (alphabetical order):

The Black Box Revelation: http://www.myspace.com/theblackboxrevelation and live: http://www.abconcerts.be/nl/abtv/p/detail/the-black-box-revelation

In a nutshell: Having made a huge stir in their native Belgium (including the Belgian equivalent of Grammys for Best Band and Best Live Band) and Europe at large, this guitar/drum power duo has come stateside to record with Alain Johannes (11, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures). The results—and the album that is forthcoming—are simply amazing. With a spot at Bonnaroo and other aggressive touring plans slated for the summer, this year's SXSW performances offer a preview of a breakout cycle for a vital band. Managed by Wil Sharpe and Chuck La Vallee.

Wednesday 3/16
Midnight—SXSW show at Valhalla

Thursday 3/17
1:30pm—Crossing Borders Festival SXSW show at Red Eye Fly

Friday 3/18
4:45pm—All Together Now Charity Event at the Bayou

Saturday 3/19
3:30pm—East Village People Party

Greek Fire: http://www.myspace.com/greekfiremusic and http://www.youtube.com/user/GreekFireTube

In a nutshell: Simply put, Greek Fire are the kind of glorious, earnest, massive and anthemic rock music that's all too scarce these days. While comparisons tend to miss the point, it's fair to say that refreshing traces of Boston, Journey and Rush lurk through the band's pyrotechnic guitar work, soaring vocals and gigantic hooks. Featuring members of Story of the Year, Greek Fire captures the core yearning of alternative rock's roots and pairs it with an unabashed sense of scale. This is one to witness as it travels towards the arenas for which it is destined. Managed by Bill McGathy and Mike Bachta at Indegoot, booked by Ken Fermaglich and Dave Galea at Agency Group.

Saturday 3/19
10pm—Emo's Main Room—Indegoot Showcase


K's Choice

In a nutshell: First US concert in seven years! Breaking out in the ’90s with appearances at Lilith Fair, Lollapalooza and elsewhere, K's Choice principals Sarah and Gert Bettens have taken a break from their growing solo careers and reunited with their new album Echo Mountain, a sprawling collection of songs capturing the full range of their voices. With gold certification in the Benelux territories after three weeks and a #1 slot at iTunes in numerous international territories, Echo Mountain will soon be available in the U.S., but come to the Continental Thursday for a preview! Managed by Wil Sharpe, booked by Dan Weiner at Paradigm.

Thursday 3/17
Continental Club


Maxim Ludwig
: http://maximludwig.com/epk/

In a nutshell: Take the grizzled wit of Levon Helm, a loose-limbed young Van Morrison, the piercing wit of the punk-era Elvis Costello and you've got some sense of the depth and dramatic power of the Maxim Ludwig, a fiery youth cloaked in a whiskey-stained coat seeped in the soul and sounds of the richest veins of rock's past. With a daring voice and fearless stage show that has seen recent stops on stages at Stagecoach and Austin City Limits, Max takes a lap this week around a city that has fast become his second home. Managed by Tom Carolan, booked by Don Muller at William Morris.

Wednesday 3/16
SXSW Guitar Town/Conqueroo Party
715 West 6th Street (Next to Molotov)
SXSW C3 Official Showcase @ Stubb’s

Thursday 3/17
SXSW Music Fog @ Threadgill’s
Friday 3/18

SXSW Sin City Party @ Maria’s Taco Xpress

SXSW Official Hotel Cafe Showcase @ Ale House

The Silent Comedy
: http://www.thesilentcomedy.com/

In a nutshell: On the crest of a huge groundswell in their native San Diego, The Silent Comedy hit SXSW in the midst of an expanded tour with Ryan Bingham. Fusing intricate musicianship and a keen sense of presentation with a seething wallop of a live show, The Silent Comedy are part big tent revival, part Prohibition-era moonshine orgy, part bluesy kingsnake crawl and captivating at every turn, making music for both the open road and the overpacked bar. Simply one of the best performances you'll see in Austin or anywhere else this year. Managed by Bruce Flohr, Mark DiDia and Brandon Ginsberg at Red Light. Booked by John Pleeter, Kyle Wilensky and Randy Salcedo at CAA.

Wednesday 3/16
Lustre Pearl
97 Rainey Street
*San Diego City Beat Party

Black and Tan

Thursday 3/17
705 Red River St
*High Five Party

12 Midnight
415 East 6th St

Friday 3/18
Red Eyed Fly
715 Red River St,
*Texas Tornado Party

Hole In the Wall
2538 Guadalupe St.

Saturday 3/19
402 E. 6th St.
*Axis of Audio Party


In addition to the bands above, there are lots of other bands to watch: Pop writer extraordinaire Linda Perry returns to her rock roots with Deep Dark Robot; Los Angeles' own Leslie and the Badgers pair beautiful vocals with rollicking country back-beats; Airborne Toxic Event preview new material from their eagerly anticipated sophomore efforts; Memphis May Fire fuse cutting edge metal with an expanded sense of atmosphere; Kiwi exports The Naked and Famous are poised to be this year's MGMT-sized breakout; Dangerbird's multi-textured sensations the Limousines and the Lefsetz-loved Fitz & the Tantrums keep the label's winning streak alive; Atlantic's The Joy Formidable might be this year's biggest and most vital import from the British Isles; Glassnote signing and Black Keys proteges The Royal Bangs unveil their gritty guitar stylings; Red Bull Records'AWOLNation travel on the heels of their breakout single "Sail," while their label mates Innerpartysystem and Twin Atlantic come armed with new music and gripping live shows; theMetalliance tour makes a stop in Austin featuring Helmet, Kylesa, Crowbar and Red Fang; Canada's Dine Alone Records invades Texas with The Golden Dogs, the Sheepdogs and non-dogs City and Colour, Bahamas, Dinosaur Bones, Hey Rosetta!, Leif Vollebekk and James Vincent McMorrow in tow; party muse Andrew W.K. will be more or less everywhere—hosting panels and parties and performing as well; loud buzz also for Toro Y Moi, Atomic Tom, Civil Wars, K Flay, Family of the Year, Young the Giant, Black Veil Brides, Kill It Kid and D.R.U.G.S. Smirking country troubadour Hayes Carll joins kindred spirits Robert Earl Keen and local legend James McMurtry for a lap around town, while bigger-stars-kinda-slumming-it this year include Cee Lo Green, Queens of the Stone Age, Duran Duran, The Strokes and OMD.

OK, so if THAT's not enough, here is my planned overall schedule, which, as always, is aspirational, not necessarily geographically or physically possible and very much subject to change. Note the DSLH party as well!!!!!

Apologies if I seem to be missing your band/your showcase/your party,etc. I'll try to cover as much ground as humanly possible and am open to being redirected on the fly where it doesn't conflict with client and/or other obligations.

So the gameplan for now is:

Tuesday, March 15
Land 10:45pm
4pm—The Civil Wars (CNN Grill Maxis Wine Dive)
10am—Atomic Tom (AT&T Panel, Sheraton)
12am—Boxer Rebellion (Latitude 30)
1am- Surfer Blood (Emo's)

Wednesday, March 16
830am—Hayes Carll (KGSR—Four Seasons)
12pm—Leslie and the Badgers (The Dogwood—715 W 6th)
1:15pm—Dream Diary (Red Eyed Fly)
2pm—Cloud Control (Mohawk), Andrew WK (Panel Room) or The Civil Wars (Paste Party Stage)
3:30pm—Maxim Ludwig (Dogwood)
4pm—The Silent Comedy (Lustre Pearl—Rainey—1st east of Red River) or Audra Mae (The Buffalo Lounge)
4:20pm—The Civil Wars (Threadgills)
5:15pm—Foster the People (Mohawk Patio) or 530pm—Kopecky Family Band (Stage on Sixth—Paste Party)
6pm—Raphael Saadiq (Fader Fort—5th between San Marcos & Waller)
7pm—Eisley (Stage on 6th—Paste Party)
8pm—Atomic Tom (Valhalla) or Kid Infinity (Malaia Upstairs)
8:55pm—Maxim Ludwig (Stubb's)
9pm—Orbans (Speakeasy Cabaret)
9:30pm—The Silent Comedy (Black and Tan)
9:50pm—OFF! (Emo's)
10:20pm—Freddie Gibbs (Mohawk Patio)
11pm—Deep Dark Robot (Rusty Spurs)
12am—Black Box Revelation (Valhalla)
1am—Fake Problems (Dirty Dog)
2am—Moby (Purevolume)

Thursday, March 17
930am—Hayes Carll (KUT live at Hilton)
11am—Bob Geldof Keynote
12:30pm—Next Generation of Music Execs Panel (Room 15)
12:45pm—Emmylou Harris (Radio Day Stage—Convention Center)
1:30pm—Black Box Revelation (Red Eye Fly)
2:20pm—The Head and the Heart (Radio Day Stage—Convention Center)
2:30pm—Tinie Tempah (Red River Garage) or The Civil Wars (Rachael Ray House Party)
3pm—New West Party (Belmont)
3:15pm—The Joy Formidable (Parish)
4pm—Naked and Famous (Lustre Pearl)
4pm—Andrew WK (Headhunters back patio)
4:15pm—The Civil Wars (Hotel San Jose)
5pm—The Silent Comedy (Elysium)
6-8pm DSLH party at Shoreline Grill
9pm—K's Choice (Continental) or The Civil Wars (The Factory)
10pm—Wiz Khalifa (La Zona Rosa) or Fitz & The Tantrums (Rusty Spurs)
10:45pm—The Pricks (Venue 222)
11pm—Phantogram (Lustre Pearl) or Jukebox the Ghost (Maggie Mae's) or McLuskey/Humphries of OMD (Maggie Mae's Rooftop)
12am—The Silent Comedy (Agave)
1am—Cas Haley (St. David's Bethel Hall) or J. Roddy Walston (Soho) or Kopecky Family Band (Maggie Mae's)
1:30am—The Bravery (Pure Volume House)
3am—Innerpartysystem (Pure Volume House)

Friday, March 18
10:45am—The Civil Wars (BMI—Four Seasons)
12pm—Kina Grannis (BMI—Four Seasons) or Black Angels (Radio Day Stage) or Maps & Atlases (Cedar Street)
12-6pm—Andrew WK (Scott Inn)
1230pm—Flying the Indie Flag Panel (Room 16B)
1pm—Gentlemen Jesse (Mohawk)
1:30pm—Jesse Malin (Treehouse Diddly)
2pm—The Silent Comedy (Red Eye Fly)
2:40pm—Atomic Tom (Carrera gifting suite)
2:55pm—Sugar and Gold (Ghost Room)
3:20pm—City and Colour (Speakeasy—412 Congress)
4pm—Sheepdogs (Flatstock) or 415pm—Edwyn Collins (East Side Drive In) or 4pm Hayes Carll (La Zona Rosa)
5pm—Friendly Fires (Emo's)
5:20pm—Deep Dark Robot (Red Eye Fly)
6pm—!!! (French Legation) or Smith Westerns (Fader Fort)
615pm—Toro Y Moi (East Side Drive In)
7:15pm—Sheepdogs (Paradise)
8pm—Maxim Ludwig (Hotel Café Showcase—Ale House)
8:10pm—Red Fang (Dirty Dog)
9pm—Gentleman Jesse (Easy Tiger Patio)
9:40pm—Obits (Red 7 Patio) or Kylesa (Dirty Dog)
9:54pm—The Civil Wars (Driskill Hotel)
10pm—Cataracs and Dev (Phoenix) or Audra Mae (Rachael Ray House)
10:30pm—The Airborne Toxic Event (Stubbs)
11:15pm—Fitz & Tantrums (Mellow Johnny's)
12:15am—Limousines (Mellow Johnny's)
12:35am—St. Vitus (Dirty Dog)
1am—Naked and Famous (Maggie Mae's Rooftop) or OMD (Stubb's)
1:30am—Jonquil (Pure Volume)

Saturday, March 19
12:10pm—The Silent Comedy (Peckerhead's)
12:30pm—Agency Group party (Lambert's)
2pm—Edwyn Collins (Day Stage)
3pm—D.R.U.G.S. (Emo's)
4pm—A Place To Bury Strangers (Rumbler Lounge) or Black Veil Brides (Emo's)
5pm—Augustana (Purevolume House), Okkervil River (Lustre Pearl), Ezra Furman & The Harpoons (Rumbler Lounge) or Atomic Tom (Rusty Spurs)
6pm—Voxhaul Broadcast (Purevolume House)
615pm—Jimmy Gnecco (Ginger Man)
7pm—The Greenhornes (Rumbler Lounge)
730pm—Royal Bangs (Treehouse Diddly) or David Berkeley (Tap Room at 6th) or Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger (Elysium)
8pm—Sons of Bill (Antone's) or Saint Motel (Emo's) or Her Space Holiday (Latitude 30) or An Horse (Maggie Mae's Roof) or The Autumn Defense (Momo's)
9pm- Family of the Year (Emo's Jr) or Kina Grannis (Stephen F's Bar)
10pm—Greek Fire (Emo's)
11pm—Memphis May Fire (Dirty Dog), Royal Bangs (Windish House) or Audra Mae (Arab Cowboy)
12am—Fang Island (Emo's Annex)
12:15am—Neon Trees (Emo's)
12:45am—The Bravery (Stubb's)
1am—Innerpartysystem (Dirty Dog) or Yoko Ono (Elysium) or Diplo (Friends) or Whitey Morgan and the 78s (Red Eye Fly) or Slough Feg (Valhalla)
2:15am—Das Racist (Pure Volume)

Sunday, March 20

Waterloo Records
Threadgills—Jimmy LaFave, James McMurtry, Matt Morris, etc.