I honestly forget how many years in a row I’ve done this schedule/list, but the best and worst part of it always remains the phenomena I experience in the days leading up to the moment I hit send – the relentless printing of emails and screenshots, the frenzied toggle between the open email window and ten other pages, the cluster of post-it notes on my already somewhat grimly-kept desk.  And then there are the incoming emails, asking if I’ve sent it yet, when I’m sending it, if I could include the person asking about it being sent.  It’s wonderful and daunting—beyond wonderful that anyone cares, daunting in that it’s my 703rd night playing “Free Bird” and I’m hitting the point of the set where it’s time to play “Free Bird.”  But this is what I do, and I do love it, so time to tune up, crank the tone knob, kick a few pedals and play the best fuckin’ version of “Free Bird” that I can muster.

I guess part of the big news for me this year is that after 63 years attending (measured in mileage), for the very first time I’m finally on a panel (Artists in Control: Technology and the New D.I.Y.)!! It’s possible that this represents the true moment that SXSW has jumped the proverbial shark, but I’m also touched and honored to finally get the nod.  For the handful of you that are making it through Saturday, come heckle me as I purport to know something about. Those who know me or bother to read this email know that I like to hear myself talk, and the other panelists are GREAT so I’m sure there will be very little dead air!

Beyond the usual array of panels and a good crop of music films (including a much-anticipated documentary about legendary rock photographer Jim Marshall), there is, of course, a dizzying array of artists. Every year, though, the meaning of SXSW for its attending artists is in a state of some renegotiation.  From its earliest expression as a celebration of local/regional talent, to its heyday as an A&R experience in the brief peak of the “alt country” movement, to its role as an anticipatory victory lap and press junket for platform releases, to its (arguable) nadir as a branded cash grab for the musical “haves,” the reasons to go, listen, and be listened to continue to evolve.  We’re in a fascinating transitional moment in music in general right now – I’d argue that there are several different music businesses – the heritage act arena tours, which are disconnected from the zillion stream trap playlist artists, which in turn are disconnected from the Patreon-fueled niche cult stars, which in turn live a different life than those independent bands in genre (sans pop or hip-hop) plying the shifting middle spaces between the radio-and-records monoculture and the emerging streaming/direct-to-consumer landscape, neither of which yet cater to them. 


Broadly stated, the offerings at SXSW mostly live in that final category this year, and in some ways the field of performers has narrowed.  While there are certainly hip-hop artists ranging from reinvigorated classics like De La Soul and the combination of Big Boi and Goodie Mob previewed at the Super Bowl to buzzing newcomers like Megan Thee Stallion and Rico Nasty, the hip-hop footprint has receded generally. 

Likewise, to my personal chagrin, we’re fairly light on metal this year, even as hotspots like Brooklyn’s St. Vitus have been making waves at the cutting edge of metal culture.  Some heavier-edged electronic acts like Soft Kill address the void to some degree, as does an extremely rare appearance by the obscure Satan lovers in Coven, but I would have loved to see some Devil Master or Pissgrave or Judiciary in a nice, sweaty, concrete box this year.

That said, the international offerings this year continue to grow apace, and for the first time that I can remember, there are a flurry of acts from places like Indonesia, China, Thailand, Costa Rica and even Kenya (the notable transplant J.S. Ondara, who, in fairness draws as much from David Gray as the afropop orchestras of 70's East Africa).  The footprint of cresting acts from the British Isles continues to grow, as Ireland’s Fontaines D.C., the proggy Black Midi, perennial heroes The Joy Formidable and electronic experimentalists HAELOS are also present.  I’m also particularly excited to see Ezra Collective, who represent the tip of the iceberg in a budding London jazz scene that builds on the new wave of jazz that artists like Makaya McCraven and Kamasi Washington evolving on our side of the Pond. 

While it’s framed a bit differently than you’ll find it still at the Continental this year, there’s a thick and fresh breed of Americana and country-tinged acts re-colonizing Austin this year, ranging from more pastoral instrumentalists like William Tyler to Ben Dickey, the man who reincarnated Blaze Foley.  Robert Ellis performs on the heels of a new collection of piano-driven work reminiscent of Elton John’s country-infused sequences, and Hayes Carll’s latest takes a thoughtful and serious turn from the sly humor of his lighter past work. Traditional favorite Patty Griffin has a new album, as does Steve Earle, and rising semi-jam-band phenoms Marcus King Band join other outfits like The Texas Gentlemen and moonlighting Foo Fighter Chris Shiflett among those letting loose on guitars under cowboy hats.  Somewhere on the corner between this stuff and the emergent neo-emo movement is the excellent, excellent Philly artist Strand of Oaks, whose forthcoming Eraserland will likely prove to be one of the year’s standouts. 

In fact, for those prone to love a guitar, there’s a whole lot to like on the ground in Austin this year.  Riding at the very top of the pack of acts whose instincts draw from the gauzier parts of the 90s’ guitar armies are Nothing, who channel power and pure atmosphere in a way you haven’t seen live since earliest Mogwai.  Then there’s the pure, fun, raw, punk-infused drive in a band like Drakulas, drawing members from bands like Rise Against and The Riverboat Gamblers.  Austin will be treated to some essential classic hardcore in the form of Youth of Today at the Thrasher event, and perennials like Oh Sees and …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead will again make appearances alongside newer acts like Mike Krol, punk-descended singer/songwriters Laura Stevenson and Laura Jane Grace and uppity jangle-pop like Illuminati Hotties and the lush classic Canadians of Broken Social Scene.  Also check out some metallic hardcore with Fury, bracing agit-punk with Priests, emo heart-stealers The Get-Up Kids, Texas free-spirits White Denim and kindred rockers The Nude Party.

One of the things I continue to love about SXSW every year is that usually there’s some wonderful post-punk band from some part of the Commonwealth resurfacing with selective but warm fanfare.  In past years these lovely brooding musical comets ranged from Chameleons UK to Modern English to Swervedriver (who, like their shoegaze brethren Ride not only have become a going concern again, but have even seen fit to return to Austin this year!!!).  This year’s model is none other than New Zealand’s The Chills. Of all the songs in the “left of the dial,” post-punk 80's canon, few match the elegant tension of “Pink Frost,” a scarifying, beautiful, intimate and horrific moment gone sublime.   They play a lot and are worth seeing every time. 

Admittedly, though, there is a lot to see and I’ve only scratched the surface.  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 schedule.



Monday, March 11

Arrive in Austin

2pm – Black Belt Eagle Scout (Hotel Vegas Patio)
315pm – The Mammoths (Hotel Vegas Inside)
4pm – Dramatic Lovers (Mohawk)
5pm – Patty Griffin (Waterloo) or Black Midi (Mohawk) or Texas Gentlemen (Banger’s Basement)
630pm – Fontaines D.C. (Mohawk)
7pm – Brummies (Lustre Pearl)
745pm – High Heavens (Barracuda Backyard)
8pm – NITE (Valhalla) or Novo Amour (Augustine)
830pm – The Beths (Mohawk Outdoor)
9pm – Angie McMahon (Augustine) or Bedouine (Bangers Basement)
94opm – Priests (Mohawk Outdoor)
10pm – The Upside Down (Elysium) or Zola Jesus (Augustine) or Lukas Nelson (Bangers Basement)
1030pm – Chagall (Edwin’s)
11pm – Cautious Clay (Augustine) or Swallow the Rat (Barracuda) or Moonshine (Bungalow)
12am – Amanda Palmer (Augustine)
1240am – Strand of Oaks (Pour House)
1am – Turbo Goth (Valhalla)


Tuesday, March 12

1215pm – Dehd (Parish)
1230pm – Shinyribs (Cactus Café)
1pm – Illuminati Hotties (Cedar St.)
130pm – Pottery (Scoot Inn)
2pm – Priests (Cedar St.)
310pm – Ben Dickey (Cactus Café)
4pm – Jess Williamson (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside) or Lola Tried (Volstead Inside) or Chris Shiflett (Cactus Café)
450pm – Robert Ellis (Cactus Café)
5pm – Silvina Moreno (Convention Center) or The Chills (Cheer Up Charlie’s inside) or Black Pistol Fire (Scoot Inn)
530pm – Nothing (Cheer Up Charlie’s Outside)
630pm – Moritz Simon Geist (The Main II)
7pm – Vaarwell (BD Riley’s)
730pm – The Oysters (720 Club Patio)
8pm -   Shelita Burke (Iron Bear) or Penelope Isles (720 Club) or RF Shannon (Augustine) or Blu DeTiger (Empire Garage) or Run River North (Maggie Mae’s)
820pm – Rico Nasty (Main)
9pm – Tyler Ramsey (Continental) or Westerman (Elysium) or Jacob Latimore (Clive Bar) or Sarah Shook & the Disarmers (Beerland)
10pm – William Tyler (Augustine) or Ezra Collective (Latitude 30) or J.S. Ondara (Elysium) or Spiral Stairs (Mohawk Outdoor) or Another Sky (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop) or Soft Kill (Barracuda Backyard)
1015pm – Strumbellas (Bungalow) [pictured - below]
1030pm – Body Type (Pearl)
11pm – Lola Kirke (Antone’s) or Charlotte OC (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop) or Broken Social Scene (Elysium) or Oh Sees (Hotel Vegas Patio)
11:15pm – Megafauna (Hotel Vegas Inside)
12am – Frankie and the Witch Fingers (Beerland) or Avalanche Party (720 Club) or White Denim (Augustine)
1245am – Amplified Heat (Hotel Vegas Inside)
1am – Boogarins (Beerland) or Sleepwalkers (Antone’s)

Wednesday, March 13

1pm – Empath (Cheer Up Charlie’s) or Wild Ponies (Guero’s)
2pm – Combo Chinita (Container Bar) or Melenas (Hotel Vegas)
3pm – Mad Dog & The 20/20s (Shangrila) or Be Forest (Spiderhouse)
345pm – Grim Streaker (Spiderhouse)
4pm – Mike Krol (Container Bar) or Tamino (Radio Day Stage) or Marcus King Band (Lucy’s)
420pm – Black Angels (Mohawk)
430pm – Dungeon Family – Big Boi and Goodie Mob (Cedar Street Courtyard)
5pm – Tyler Ramsey (Do512 Lounge) or the Cactus Blossoms (Waterloo)
530pm – The Joy Formidable (Latitude 30)
630pm – Laura Stevenson (Scholz Garten)
7pm – Ross Golan’s The Wrong Man (Central Presbyterian) or City of the Sun (St. David’s) [pictured - right]
715pm – Body Type (Hotel Vegas)
740pm – J.S. Ondara (St. David’s)
8pm – Potty Mouth (BD Riley’s) or Papercutz (CU29) or Y La Bamba (Palm Door on Sabine)
9pm – Drakulas (Bungalow) or Puppy (Dirty Dog) or Barry Dean/Luke Laird/Ashley McMillen (Esther’s Follies)
945pm – Shy Boys (Mohawk Outdoor)
10pm – William Elliott Whitmore (Continental) or Cedric Burnside (Cooper’s BBQ) or Donna Missal (Empire Garage) or Viagra Boys (Swan Dive Patio)
11pm – The Dirty Nil (Bungalow) or The Nude Party (Palm Door on Sabine) or Ximena Sarinana (Speakeasy)
1110pm – Edie Brickell & New Bohemians (St. David’s)
1145pm – The Get Up Kids (Mohawk Outdoor)
12am – Laura Jane Grace (Continental) or De La Soul (Bangers)
1245pm – Pedro the Lion (Mohawk Outdoor)
1am – Waco Brothers (Continental) or morgxn (Empire Garage) or Castelcomer (Friends) or Castle (Maggie Mae’s) or Ezra Collective (Main II) or Cuco (Stubb’s)


Thursday, March 14

10am – Bloody Mary Morning w Reignwolf, Erika Wennerstrom, etc. (GSD&M Back Yard – 828 W. Sixth)
12pm – Field Medic (Cheer Up Charlie’s) or J.S. Ondara (Radio Day Stage)
1pm – Saint PHNX (Nuevo Leon Lot – 1501 E 6th) or Donna Missal (Waterloo) or Judah & the Lion (Buffalo Billiards) or Drakulas (Beerland) or Tinnarose (Contintental)
145pm – Mike Krol (Side Bar)
2pm – Mansionair (Waterloo)
255pm – Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires (Side Bar)
3pm – Yawpers (Shangrila) or Matthew Logan Vasquez (Scoot Inn) or James McMurtry (Broken Spoke) or Jackie Venson (Cooper’s BBQ)
330pm – Jon Langford (Shangrila) or Castlecomer (Lustre Pearl)
4pm – TEEN (Clive Bar)
430pm – Gurf Morlix (Broken Spoke)
5pm – Mind Spiders (Beerland) or Reignwolf (Scoot Inn) or Jon Dee Graham & William Harries Graham (Lucy’s)
515pm – Riverboat Gamblers (Side Bar)
6pm – Broken Social Scene (Container Bar) or Goatwhore (Lost Well)
7pm – Youth Of Today (Weather Up)
730pm – Laura Stevenson (the Shed)
8pm – Durand Jones & the Indications (Stubb’s) or Thrasher Death Match – Razorbumps, etc. (Weather Up)
845pm – X Ambassadors (Lady Bird Lake)
855pm – Chills (Hotel Vegas Patio)
9pm – Gurr (Graeber House) or Laura Jane Grace (Scoot Inn) or Thrasher Death Match – Razorbumps, Roky Erickson (Weather Up)
930pm – Dylan LeBlanc (Barracuda)
10pm – Hayes Carll (Scoot Inn) or Black Pumas (Barracuda) or Megan Thee Stallion (Cheer Up Charlie’s) or Khalid (Uber Eats)
1015pm – Laura Stevenson (Malverde)
1045pm – Crazy World of Arthur Brown (Empire Garage)
11pm -   Strand of Oaks (Scoot Inn) or Amyl & The Sniffers (Barracuda Backyard) or Broken Social Scene (Bungalow)
1115pm – King Princess (Stubb’s) [pictured below]
1145pm – Coven (Empire Garage)
12am – Sir Sly (Banger’s) or Acid Tongue (Javelina) or Cuco (Lustre Pearl) or Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis (Driskill)
12:15am – Nothing (Hotel Vegas Patio)
1am – John Vanderslice (Hideout) or Yung Lean (the Main) or Wyclef Jean (Parish)
1:05am – Dead Meadow (Hotel Vegas Patio)
1:15am – Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires (Malverde)

Friday, March 15

10am – BMI Brunch
12pm – Beaver Nelson (Lucy’s) or X Ambassadors (Buford’s Beer Garden) or Liily (Buffalo Billiards)
1240pm – Joshua Burnside (BD Riley’s)
1pm – Cherry Glazerr (Buffalo Billiards)
130pm – Pottery (Cheer Up Charlie’s)
145pm – Ginger Root (Parish)
2pm – HAELOS (Latitude 30) or Illuminati Hotties (Container Bar) or Soft Kill (Chuggin’ Monkey) or Josh Pierson (Half Step)
230pm – Fury (Mohawk) or Waco Brothers (Yeti – 220 S Congress)
3pm – Nude Party (Container Bar) or Matthew Logan Vasquez (Yeti)
330pm – Cedric Burnside (Yeti) or Spider Bags (Side Bar)
4pm – Concord Party (the Line Austin)
445pm – Jim Marshall Movie Premiere – Stateside Theatre
5pm – Hayes Carll (Yeti) or Reignwolf (Little Woodrow’s)
520pm – Rosie Flores (Maria’s Taco Xpress) or Fontaines DC (BD Riley’s)
530pm – Elder Island (Latitude 30)
6pm – Japanese Breakfast (Container Bar) or Crypt Trip (Lost Well)
730pm – Justin Townes Earle (Mohawk Indoor)
820pm – Nikki Lane (Mohawk Indoor)
830pm – Dungeon Family (Lady Bird Lake)
9pm – Puppy (720 Club) or Taco Mouth (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside) or Nicole Atkins (Cooper’s BBQ) or Robert Ellis (Mohawk Outdoor)
945pm – repeat repeat (Barracuda Backyard)
950pm – Chai (Native Hostel)
10pm – Tommy McLain & CC Adcock Swamp Pop (Antone’s) or Bush Tetras (Hotel Vegas Annex) or The Rembrandts (Lamberts) or Questlove (The Main)
11pm – Graham Coxon (Central Presbyterian) or John Paul White (Cooper’s BBQ) or Otis the Destroyer (Friends) or Strand of Oaks (Scoot Inn)
1140pm – Durand Jones & The Indications (Native Hostel)
12am -   Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ (Continental)  or body type (3Ten ACL Live)
1245am – Swervedriver (Barracuda Backyard)
1am – Pinky Pinky (3Ten ACL Live) or Cedric Burnside (Cooper’s BBQ) or Oh Sees (Hotel Vegas Patio)

Saturday, March 16

11am – Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis (Continental)
12pm – Durand Jones & the Indications (Barracuda) or Wieuca (Side Bar) or Jealous of the Birds (Lazarus Brewing)
1235pm – Creeping Death (Dirty Dog)
1245pm – Paul Cauthen (Rustic Tap)
1pm – I have to get to the green room, but…
2pm – MY PANEL [pictured - above]
3pm – PAWS (Cooper’s BBQ) or Bleachers (Stubb’s) or Pure Luck (Indian Roller)
315pm – Fontaines DC (Weather Up)
320pm – Squid (Big Easy Bar & Grill)
340pm – Flower (Scholz Garden)
4pm – Yard Dog Party
4pm – Moonlover (The ABGB)
430pm – Mystery Lights (Cheer Up Charlie’s)
445pm – Tameca Jones (Half Step)
5pm – Broken Social Scene (Scoot Inn) or Mojo Nixon (Continental) or Palberta (Beerland) or Pity Party (Local Pub & Patio)
515pm – Direct Hit (Dirty Dog)
530pm – Fatherson (Latitude 30)
6pm – Ben Kweller (Hotel San Jose) or King Pelican (Craft Pride)
615pm – Black Angels (Weather Up)
630pm – Bambara (Side Bar)
7pm – Roky Erickson (Weather Up) or Paws (Lazarus Brewing) or Curtis McMurtry (Central Presbyterian)
735pm – Andrew Bird (Lady Bird Lake)
745pm – the Unlikely Candidates (720 Club Patio)
8pm – Pablo Dylan (Esther’s Follies) or Valee (Palm Door on 6th) or Grim Streaker (Scoot Inn)
830pm – Nerveshatter (Kick Butt Coffee)
835pm – High Waisted (Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside)
845pm – Daddy Long Legs (Hotel Vegas Patio)
9pm – John Vincent III (Steven F’s Bar) or Saint Lo (Esther’s Follies)
10pm – Royal Thunder (Elysium) or J.S. Ondara (Lambert’s) or Billie Eilish (Uber Eats)
1045pm – Sixteen Deluxe (Belmont)
1055pm – Crunk Witch (Flamingo Cantina)
11pm – Darling West (Cooper’s BBQ) or David Wax Museum (Esther’s Follies)
11:15pm – Quiet Company (Augustine)
12am – ….And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (Scoot Inn)   or A Giant Dog (Cheer Up Charlie’s)
1230am – Death By Unga Bunga (Hotel Vegas)
1255am – Kwame (the Main II)
1am – Marcus King Band (Antone’s) or Chills (Beerland)

Sunday, March 17
Free as a bird now


Music City Pride. (6/24a)
Hedge fund chief is a big fan of Sir Lucian. (6/24a)
Wit and wisdom from a renaissance man (6/22a)
Purple prose. (6/24a)
An inspiring success story (6/24a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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