SXSW 2018:

Scroll to the end for our SXSW Spotify playlist.


This is the moment every year where the twinge of casual paranoia hits me—this list, this email, this SXSW thing that I’ve done for however long—is it still something I should be doing? I kind of imagine it’s the thing Matt Groening asks himself before he embarks on the 945th season of The Simpsons. Of course, that’s vain hyperbole because, even if the version of this undertaking that I did for myself as a high schooler was Tracey Ullman-era primitive, this piece of scattered prose has certainly never been quite so tasty as a Flaming Moe. When even your allusions risk dating you to the dial-up era, though, you have to ask the question every music-industry pirate asks (or should ask) when they look at 40—do I have any clue what’s still cool? To quote my favorite tweet of late—“Hey nineteen, that’s Jeffery Mangum.”

Recorded music has zoomed to a place of an interesting and vast polarity taste-wise. A key reality of the streaming ecosystem seems to be the utter commercial dominance of RapCaviar-style hip-hop, and while we can talk about whether gradual demographic shifts in the subscriber base will mute that trend slightly, it’s hard to feign fluency in at least the most mainstream part of the music industry right now if you can’t tell your Yungs and Lils apart. Even if not all of these acts will last for years, on one level you have to step back and simply honor the essential vitality in the flow of the hip-hop revolution as it approaches the end of its fourth decade. Like jazz and rock & roll before it, it’s yet another African American art form built to last, even if gradually these waves are surpassed by the next in their centrality in the culture. A lot should be said too for the resonance in the moment—I can’t help but think some of the popularity of someone like Cardi B, for instance, derives from what she instinctively represents, which, to my eyes, is essentially the cultural inversion of a Trump or a Pence—a female, sex-positive multiethnic person of color—an actual rags-to-riches story in an era of increasing plutocracy/kleptocracy. And there’s an absolute generational twist to this—some of the more violent millennial-approved artists (like, say, XXXTentacion) have some of the same shock effect that a lot of darker rock acts had in my later high school years (hey nineteen, that’s Marilyn Manson).

So if I/we can accept that some of the point is for many of us to mostly miss the point, where does that leave us? For starters, we should accept that everything is cyclical, but even if it’s not exactly cyclical, it’s OK to like what you like. I may bluster about rock coming back after a few Shiner Bocks, but for a lot of people it never went away, and there’s a business there in general, even if at times its appeal is more, ahem, selective. Same is true of jazz, outlaw country (especially in the hands of Dave Cobb, who is kinda bringing it back), etc.

In a lot of ways, that has always been exactly the joy of SXSW. Even while Lady Gaga was playing the giant ridiculous Doritos machine on 6th Street, Ray Wylie Hubbard was playing the Continental, Jimmie Dale Gilmore was playing a church and Joe Ely was being Joe Ely. For the last decade plus, it’s absolutely been a place where the tent is big enough that you can choose your own adventure, and for me it actually was the first time I saw Kendrick Lamar on a stage, but the same was true for me across the years for Power Trip, The 1975, The Aggrolites, Peter, Bjorn & John, The Flaming Lips, Hamell on Trial, Sleeping With Sirens, Fu Manchu, Mount Pilot, Lord Huron, High on Fire and Spoon. So in that spirit of everything louder than everything else, let’s see what’s coming:


Even if the conventional wisdom coming in is that the fest may actually have a smaller sprawl this year, there’s a lot to be excited about. SoCal spiraling-up-fast-comers The Frights hit Austin ready to celebrate a few rounds of sold out headline shows and the recent completion of an Epitaph/Dangerbird full-length that will put them on a map in a whole new way. Another great California band with rock energy to spare is No Parents, who will colonize all parts east for a chunk of the week and shouldn’t be missed. Brooklyn’s Miles Francis makes his solo SXSW debut (having manned drums, etc., for Antibalas and numerous others across the years) on the heels of an elegantly-rendered NYC residency and the release of his EP, Swimmers, with songs dense in texture, rhythm and complexity completely worth, ahem, diving into (wakka-wakka-wakka)!!!

SXSW’s international draw continues to be one of its key strengths, and this year there’s a solid field of talent from abroad: Mexico’s Mint Field comes on the heels of their excellent new album Pasar de las Luces, where their edged but ambient tones establish them as a perhaps more flexible analogue to Sigur Ros. Meanwhile, Colombia’s Salt Cathedral come with elegant atmosphere and angelic vocals with crisper definition. Australia sends some true garage rock with The Molochs, while the Netherlands respond in kind with Mozes and the Firstborn. There are a number of specialty international showcases to be sure, but in general it’s implicit in more or less everything offered.

On a similar note and appropriately, there’s also a truly thrilling crop of female voices debuting at SXSW this year, again many international. The U.K.’s Pale Waves are proteges of previous South-By standouts The 1975 (they sound stunningly similar), and their full-length debut on Dirty Hit Records materializes this summer—with a considerable churn already underway for them across the Pond, they’re one of the year’s received things to see in Austin, to be sure. Also from the U.K. but sounding as “Nashville” as anything, Jade Bird is Glassnote’s latest victory in the making, with her devastating single “Cathedral” already impacting airwaves. From a 19-year-old, this dark tale of jilting someone at the altar is both gripping and almost punk in its glistening cruelty. The lead single “Adore” from Australia’s Amy Shark might be a doe-eyed antidote, albeit no less sonically compelling—seeing it stripped down across the town’s various stages will be a true treat. Meanwhile, the latest U.S. Girls album In a Poem Unlimited (4AD) finds Meghan Remy reaching a new level of texture and songcraft—maybe the best offering in an already great catalog. England’s dynamic duo BONES will be making a number of key appearances, fresh off a 2017 that included international runs with my boys Highly Suspect and a growing body of strong impressions. Other songstresses to see include Nina Nesbitt, Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy, Anna Burch and Kitten.   

As always, SXSW provides some well-known indie rock comfort food, but Superchunk deserves a special shout-out—their latest, What a Time to Be Alive, utterly inspires. For them to make an album in 2018 as political, bracing, catchy and powerful is no small thing, and if their first club appearances (in some cases supported by the very cool rock rippers Bat Fangs) are any indication, their SXSW plays will be among the best shows of the week, hands down.

There’s some other just flat-out-fucking-fun slammers in store too. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t pump a fist to Japandroids or want to listen to White Reaper’s “Judy French” 10 times in a row. Band-I-like-too-much-for-my-own-good Beach Slang debuts their more tender alter ego Quiet Slang, but also appears electric as well. Red Bull RecordsAlbert Hammond Jr. (from a little band called The Strokes) also comes in the service of a brand new LP, with several big-space plays. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, one of my best party hours last year, have come with a new album and their usual wallop. Same- same hot-damn same with Low Cut Connie, and on a particularly exciting note, this year marks the return of longtime Austin rock kings Grand Champeen.

If you like more twang or acoustic tones, it’s Austin after all, and there’s more than enough to go around. Even for those missing Willie Nelson’s star-studded Luck Reunion, some great Americana/alternative will make its way back to town, as Nathaniel Rateliff has a couple high-profile plays in the service of his excellent new album, Tearing at the Seams, Preservation Hall Jazz Band debuts both a film and finds the space to light up a few rooms, and promising newcomers Mt. Joy celebrate their recent Dualtone debut and the inimitable Josh Rouse takes a step toward a compelling ’80s-flavored pop style on his forthcoming Yep Roc release. Keith Urban plays too, if you want your country to be more, um, country.

In terms of hip-hop and R&B, in some ways this year will be lighter than years past, although SOB X RBE’s appearance at the Fader Fort is easily one of the week’s crucial appearances, and Knox Fortune comes in to town too with a hard buzz. The return of Dr. Octagon should thrill discerning heads, and there’s also opportunity to see Kelela, who really should have gotten even more press for making one of last year’s absolute best albums. The aforementioned Cardi B hits Fader Fort too, while Khalid, NOMBe, R.LUM.R and Shamir will all be in circulation throughout the week. Likewise, the metal ranks have thinned slightly this year, but it’s worth the trek to see Relapse’s Gatecreeper, who just released an excellent split LP with Iron Reagan, while the technically stunning Wilder Maker features a sleeper Baroness moonlighter.

Just a step off the metal grid, I couldn’t be much happier to say that the dulcet skronk of my much beloved shoegaze is gradually coming back into fashion. One of its soon-to-be-best exponents Teenage Wrist won’t be in Austin, but Hopeless’ excellent, excellent Hundredth will be, while Sub Pop’s Moaning comes in with huge buzz and Top Shelf introduces the amazing Gulfer. Other comparably Jazzmastered finds for those inclined will be in abundance, including A Place to Bury Strangers, Ought and excellent newcomers Shame.

All right, that should be enough introduction to get you into the field. As always, apologies if I haven’t shouted out your band/show/party/cousin/whatever. Hit me up if there’s more for me to know about, but otherwise brace yourself and find me on the ground, using my trusty-rusty-not-entirely-physically-conceivable-but-hey-let’s-try-handy-dandy schedule.


Tuesday, March 13

12:30pm – Morgan Saint (Blackheart – Pledgehouse)

1pm – Rayland Baxter (Blackheart)

130pm – The Britanys (Side Bar) or Son Little (Blackheart)

2pm – Mt. Joy (Gatsby) or Shame (Blackheart)

3pm – Superchunk (Waterloo)

4pm – U.S. Girls (Blackheart) or The Hood Internet (88 ½ Rainey)

5pm – Shopping/Shamir at She Shreds (3501 E. 7th St.)

7pm – Gemma Ray (St. David’s) or Pussy Riot (the Main)

745pm – Lux Deluxe (Seven Grand)

8pm – Alex Rose (Javelina) or Starcrawler (the Main II) or Death Bells (Barracuda)

815pm – Superchunk (the Main)

830pm – Matt Costa (The Gatsby)

9pm – Josh T Pearson (St. David’s) or Moonrise Nation (18th Over Austin) or Pete Molinari (The Townshend) or Emerson Star (Maggie Mae’s)

915pm – Jay Prince (Native Hostel) or Josia Bell (Empire Garage)

920pm – Suburban Living (Cheer Up Charlie’s)

945pm – Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires (Sidewinder Inside) or The Wedding Present (Barracuda Backyard)

10pm – Jade Bird (Elysium) or Tristen (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside)

1010pm – Bat Fangs (Sidewinder Outside)

1030pm – Nikki Lane (Gatsby)

11pm – Pale Waves (British Embassy Latitude 30) or Low (St. David’s) or Larkin Poe (Blackheart)

1115pm – Smokepurpp (Native Hostel)

1145pm – Hundredth (Barracuda Backyard)

12am – Now, Now (Elysium)

1210am – Shamir (Sidewinder Outside)

1230am – Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (Gatsby)

1240am – OSHUN (Parish)

1245am – Joey Purp (Lustre Pearl)

1am – The Molochs (Maggie Mae’s) or Cotton Mather (Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room) or David Garza (Victorian Room at Driskill) or Linda Perry (The Townshend)


Wednesday, March 14

1pm – Son Little (Waterloo)

2pm – Knox Fortune (Cedar Street) or Soccer Mommy (Container Bar)

230pm – Roast (Spider House)

3pm – Only Girl (International Day Stage) or Amy Shark (Cedar Street) or Lucy Dacus (Waterloo)

345pm - Davíd Garza (Continental Club)

4pm – Erika Wennerstorm (Handlebar Austin)

5pm – Frights (Side Bar) or Dr. Octagon (Cedar Street) or Bully (Container Bar)

6pm – Andrew W.K. (Waterloo) or White Reaper (Container Bar)

645pm – High Waisted (Spider House)

7pm – Sloppy Jane (Hotel Vegas)

730pm – Lucy Dacus (Stubb’s)

745pm – Sun Voyager (Hotel Vegas)

8pm – Mt. Joy (Stubb’s Inside) or Christopher Rees (Townsend)

820pm – Superorganism (Stubb’s)

830pm – Kitten (Empire Garage) or Salt Cathedral (Gatsby) or Buxton (Lambert’s)

835pm – Glassio (Sidewinder Outside)

845pm – Mint Field (Hotel Vegas Patio)

9pm – Natalie Prass (Parish) or Floating Room (720 Club) or Lovelytheband (Antone’s)

930pm – Kelelea (Gatsby)

950pm – Gus Dapperton (Sidewinder Inside) or Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Mohawk Outdoor)

10pm - Frank Turner (Latitude 30) or Plastic Pinks (Parish) or Field Report (Swan Dive) or Ray Wiley Hubbard (Cooper’s BBQ)

1015pm – Shame (Barracuda Backyard)

1020pm – Okkervil River (Stubb’s)

1035pm – Moaning (Barracuda)

1045pm – Paul Cauthen (720 Club Patio)

11pm – Quiet Slang (St. David’s) or Nude Party (Parish) or The Ghost Wolves (720 Club) or Japandroids (Lustre Pearl)

1110pm – Ought (Barracuda Backyard)

1115pm – Andre W. K. (Hotel Vegas Patio)

1130pm – Morgxn (Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room)

1140pm – Say Anything (Swan Dive Patio)

1145pm – Lucette (Palm Door on 6th)

12am – NoMBe (Blackheart) or BRONCHO (Parish) or Gaz Coombes (Latitude 30) or Cold War Kids (Banger’s) or BONES (Antone’s)

1230am – Ezra Furman (Hotel Vegas)

1am – Nina Nesbitt (Latitude 30) or High Waisted (720) or Low Cut Connie (Parish) or Rayland Baxter (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop) or Vundabar (Swan Dive) or Hop Along (Barracuda Backyard)

1:15am – Al Lover (Hotel Vegas)

1:25am – Acid Dad (Dirty Dog)


Thursday, March 15

12pm – Field Report (Day Stage)

1230pm – Starcrawler (Blackheart)

1pm - Mt. Joy (Day Stage) or Buddy (Container Bar)

2pm – Nina Nesbitt (Cedar Street) or Low Cut Connie (Blackheart) or Strange Ranger (Voodoo Donut) or Drakulas (Beerland)

230pm – Lucy Dacus (Blackheart)

3pm – A Place to Bury Strangers (Waterloo) or Vundabar (Hotel Vegas)

330pm - Karen Glauber's Songwriters Panel, “How About A Little Fanfare?,” with Lo Moon’s Ziggy Lowell, Nada Surf's Matthew Caws, Chris Price and Todd Rundgren 

330pm – Josh Rouse (Blackheart)

4pm – Lovelytheband (Buffalo Billiards)

430pm – Amy Shark (Container Bar) or Wye Oak (Blackheart)

5pm – A Place to Bury Strangers (Blackheart) or Sudan Archives (Clive Bar)

515pm – Waco Brothers (Shangrila)

535pm – Goat Girl (Hotel Vegas)

6pm - Frights (Banger’s)

7pm – Miles Francis (Do512 Compound)

7:15pm – Mint Field (Hotel Vegas Annex)

745pm – LANNDS (Sidewinder Inside) or Ursa Major (Highland Lounge)

8pm – Gold Casio (Javelina) or Jade Bird (Mohawk Outdoor)

815pm – Moaning (Hotel Vegas Annex)

830pm – SYML (Mohawk Indoor) or Los Lobos (SXSW Outdoor)

845pm – Gulfer (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside)

850pm – Ron Gallo (Hotel Vegas Patio)

9pm – The Frights (Bangers) or Billie Eilish (Mohawk Outdoor)

930pm – Amy Shark (Gatsby) or Salt Cathedral (Esther’s Follies) or Elle King (Fair Market)

10pm – Shopping (Latitude 30) or Speedy Ortiz (Clive Bar) or In the Valley Below (Blackheart) or Pujol (Valhalla) or Classixx (Lustre Pearl) or Ted Leo (Scoot Inn) or R.LUM.R (St. David’s) or Jukebox the Ghost (Mohawk Outdoor) 

1030pm – Wallows (Gatsby) or Morgxn (Palm Door) or Nina Nesbitt (Mohawk Indoor)

11pm – Bipolaroid (Lamberts) or Ghost Twin (Swan Dive) or WAVVES (Banger’s) or Wye Oak (Scoot Inn)

1105pm – The Weather Station (Barracuda)

1120pm – Beach Slang (Gatsby)

1135pm – Sunflower Bean (Hotel Vegas Patio) or Old Crow Medicine Show (Fair Market)

1145pm – Okkervil River (Cedar St. Courtyard)

12am – White Reaper (Cheer Up Charlie’s) or Gang Of Youths (Empire Control Room) or Khalid (Trinity Warehouse) or Bishop Briggs (Mohawk Outdoor)

1230am – A Place to Bury Strangers (Hotel Vegas Patio) or Dashboard Confessional (Gatsbys)

1245am – No Vacation (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside) or Uncle Lucius (Cooper’s BBQ)

1am – Knox Fortune (Empire Control Room) or Gatecreeper (Dirty Dog) or Todd Rundgren (Elysium) or Josh Rouse (18th Over Austin) or Cut Copy DJ Set (Mohawk Outdoor)


Friday, March 16

10am – BMI Brunch

12pm – Shame (Waterloo) or Michael Fracasso (Lucy’s) or Nikki Lane (Blackheart)

1pm – Lo Moon (Day Stage) or Hop Along (Cedar Street)

130pm – Blank Range (Waller Creek Pub House)

12-4pm – UTA BBQ (Lambert’s)

2pm – Frights (Cheer Up Charlie’s)

215pm – Vinyl Theater (Speakeasy)

230pm – Wilder Maker (Hotel Vegas Annex)

3pm – Nikki Lane (Day Stage) or BONES (Tiniest Bar in Texas) or Pale Waves (Urban Outfitters)

330pm – Frank Turner (Blackheart)

345pm – Thunderpussy (St. Elmo)

4pm – Hiss Golden Messenger (Lucy’s Fried Chicken) or Kurt Vile (Cedar Street)

5pm – UME (Buffalo Billiards)

515pm – Guy Forsyth (Dogwood) or Post Animal (21st St. Coop)

530pm – Golden Dawn Arkestra (Hotel Vegas)

6pm – BONES (Cheers Rooftop) or Paul Cauthen (Waterloo)

645pm – Albert Hammond, Jr. (SXSW Outdoor)

7pm – Amy Shark (St. David’s)

715pm – Missy D (Sheraton Backyard)

740pm – Shakey Graves (SXSW Outdoor)

745pm – Bad Moves (Barracuda)

8pm – Lucy Rose (St. David’s) or Confucius Jones (Karma Lounge)

830pm – Surfbort (Hotel Vegas Patio) or ShitKid (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside)

845pm – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (SXSW Outdoor)

9pm – R.LUM.R (Lustre Pearl) or Milk & Bone (Swan Dive Patio) or Kweku Collins (Clive Bar) or Blaze Foley tribute (Paramount Theatre)

915pm – Honduras (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside) or Talib Kweli (Container Bar)

930pm – Soccer Mommy (Cheer Up Charlie’s)

955pm – Blackwulf (Valhalla)

10pm – Kelly Willis (Continental) or Tijuana Bibles (720 Club) or Lo Moon (Trinity Warehouse) or Mozes and the Firstborn (Tap Room at Market) or Kitten (Mohawk Outdoor)

1015pm – Lucy Dacus (Cheer Up Charlie’s)

1045pm – Ume (Sidewinder Inside)

11pm – Jesse Dayton (Cooper’s BBQ) or Sylvan Esso (Lustre Pearl) or Hiss Golden Messenger (Scoot Inn) or Grand Champeen (ABGB)

1130pm – U.S. Girls (Hotel Vegas Patio)

12am – Okkervil River (Scoot Inn)

1235am – Bugzy Malone (The Main II)

1250pm – nothing, nowhere (Dirty Dog Bar)

1:10am – METZ (Barracuda Backyard)


Saturday, March 17

11am – Rachael Ray Party – Kevin Morby, etc. (Stubb’s)

1230pm – Waxahatchee (Stubb’s)

2pm – John Doe Folk Trio (Lucy’s Fried Chicken) or Pity Party (Beerland)

230pm – BONES (Side Bar)

3pm – Burgermania (Hotel Vegas) or Sgt. Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club Band (Stubb’s)

4pm – Grand Champeen (Lucy’s Fried Chicken)

5pm – Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires (Valhalla) or Okkervil River/Rayland Baxter/Sunflower Bean/U.S. Girls (Hotel San Jose)

6pm – Night Drive (SXSW Outdoor) or And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (Waterloo) or WAVVES (Clive Bar)

7pm – A Giant Dog (SXSW Outdoor) or the Black Angels (Lustre Pearl)

745pm – This Pine Box (Swan Dive Patio)

8pm – Panic Priest (Valhalla) or SuperOrganism (Latitude 30) or The Medium (Cheer Up Charlie’s) or Secret Sands (Elysium)

835pm – Gothic Tropic (Swan Dive Patio)

845pm – White Fang (Hotel Vegas Patio)

850pm – Sloppy Jane (Cheer Up Charlie’s)

9pm – Miles Francis (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop) or Wilder Maker (Townsend) or Ex-Girlfriends (Swan Dive) or Night Beats (Lustre Pearl) or BONES (Barracuda) or White Reaper (Clive Bar) or Roky Erickson (SXSW Outdoor)

10pm – Whitney Rose (Lucille) or Albert Hammond Jr (Lustre Pearl)

1015pm – No Parents (Hotel Vegas Patio)

11pm – Low Cut Connie (Clive Bar) or Trophy Dad (Velveeta Room) or Penguin Prison (Parlor Room) or Keith Urban (Stubb’s)

1145pm – The Dwarves (Hotel Vegas Patio)

12am – Xylouris White (Parish) or Mint Field (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop)

1230am – Guantanamo Baywatch (Hotel Vegas Patio) or Frank Turner (Barracuda Backyard)

1am – Whiskey Shivers (Lucille) or Ezra Furman (Parish)


Sunday, March 18 – You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.


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