I’m still working on my annual SXSW Mix. It’s shaping up to be mostly new artists that I’d never heard of before or that really came to my attention at SXSW this year. As excited as I am about all my new discoveries, it occurred to me that some of my very favorite experiences of the festival aren’t represented. As such, I was inspired to make a separate list of my top 10 sets of SXSW ’11.
1. Queen Caveat at Thirsty Nickel
It was their first set at SXSW and I was just SOOOO excited that they were there and that I was there and that everything was happening. The venue itself added the additional bonus of watching Lauren masterfully deal with an awkwardly placed banister AND allowed me to watch all the people walking past, stopping, and being drawn to the window by the music…LOVE watching new people fall in love with my favorite bands! It was a SXSW moment for sure.
2. The Silent Comedy at Peckerheads
I saw The Silent Comedy more than any other band at SXSW. Each set they did was slightly different but their final show at Antiquiet’s The Axis of Audio showcase was the most unique, featuring some new tunes as well as other songs not found in their typical setlist. It also helps that the set was dedicated to me (and Amanda and our TSC gang).
3. Empires at The Trophy Room
Empires was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing play. They had grabbed my attention when they played in LA with Biffy Clyro and seeing them in Austin reminded me why I loved them so much. The way the band, especially singer Sean Van Vleet connects to the audience, drawing them in with an intense energy…it was one of those sets in which I became completely lost in the music.
4. Dead Sara at Lipstick 24
After a solid day of amazing music, it was incredibly difficult for a band to completely knock me off my feet (as many highly anticipated bands failed to do). Yet Dead Sara had me head banging and rocking out with their 1am set Weds night (or I suppose Thursday morning) at Lipstick 24 like no other. I think this was the hardest I rocked out all week…
5. The Kin at Antone’s
You know I love The Kin. Their performance at Antone’s was one of the most memorable of the week. I finally got to hear some of their new material, the audience was completely enraptured especially when they got off the stage to come sing a song on the floor, and Isaac managed to “re-create” his didgeridoo using some sort of pipe that could be found out in the street. When they played “Waterbreaks”, I was SO happy to be seeing them play again (it had been awhile…they’re based in NYC), it brought tears to my eyes.
6. Doll and The Kicks at Antone’s
I had NO CLUE that Doll & The Kicks was even going to be at SXSW, let alone be playing at the British Invasion showcase I was attending on Thursday. It was the best surprise of the week! Their new song “Skeleton” is fantastic and must be downloaded now…!
7. AWOLNATION at Rusty Spurs
I had never seen AWOLNATION before, but I’d been enjoying their tunes. I liked the band, but what really gets this set on my top 10 list was the intensity of the audience. I love being swept up in that kind of energy…it was insane without me ever feeling physically threatened. The perfect audience. When they played “Sail”, I was taken to another place…and I couldn’t even really see the stage!
here’s a taste:
8. Twin Atlantic at Antone’s
Most of the bands on this list are ones I’d seen (or at least known) before SXSW. It’s easier to really get into a set if you know the songs. But Twin Atlantic I had never really heard of before arriving in Austin. I had come across one of their tunes and that was enough to put them on my watch list. By the end of their set at Antone’s, they were my fave new discovery from SXSW.
9. Viva City at The Dart Music International House
Tuesday afternoon, before the music festivities officially began, we gathered to go see Viva City at The Dart Music International House. I saw this UK act several times over the course of my stay in Austin, and each time it was a crazy fun dance party, but this very first set marked the beginning of my SXSW experience and it will never be forgotten.
10. Brian Wright at St. David’s Sanctuary
That whole evening at St. David’s Sanctuary (one of the Hotel Cafe showcases) was quite magical (see story), but I think my favorite set of the bunch was Brian Wright’s. It’s hard to describe why the set moved me so much. I have seen Brian play plenty of times, but something about this place and time and my specific mood really elevated his performance and songs. It was truly a perfect SXSW moment.
Seriously, is it time for SXSW 2012 yet?