On most websites that preview SXSW, you’ll find the same list of the same bands worth checking out this year. You’ll be told to see San Fermin, Vagabon and Cherry Glazerr, for example. I won’t tell you not to see those acts. Those are good acts! My approach to SXSW is different from most. I specifically seek out bands I’ve never heard of, usually from countries I’ve never been to. I find joy in the unknown, and invite you to come along for the ride.
Can I believe anything this band says about itself? They claim from the very beginning that they are falsely advertising themselves. They say they have energetic, guttural, instrument-swapping live dynamics. That, in itself, sounds very exciting, and I sincerely hope that this is not fake news. This is one band of many in the festival that sounds like early ‘90s Boston to me — Cherry Glazerr and Charly Bliss are among the others. As someone who cut his live music teeth in early ‘90s Massachusetts, I approve of this trend.
Monday, March 13, 12:00-12:40AM, Latitude 30
Wednesday, March 15, 8:00-8:40PM, BD Riley’s
Speaking of Massachusetts, here’s a band from Northampton that all met while attending Smith College. I spent many a night drinking coffee near Smith College, blasting my ears with the sounds of Western Mass. While others were going deaf to the intense guitars of Dinosaur, Jr, I was bouncing around to the sounds of The Bombastics. You’ve heard of one of these. My tastes are different than the mainstream, perhaps? Potty Mouth definitely appreciates the former, and I’ve grown up a bit, and now appreciate it, too.
Tuesday, March 14, 1:00-1:50AM, Barracuda
Friday, March 17, 9:00-9:40PM, Empire Garage
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra
Yes, I’ve grown up, but I still appreciate ska. SXSW has a genre filter on their website, and one of the genres is ska! Press that filter, and only one band survives the paredown, and that is the legendary Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, who I have definitely heard of before, making this recommendation a bit of a cheat.
What does Japanese ska sound like? It sounds like ska, obviously.
Wednesday, March 15, 10:00-10:40PM, Half Step
Thursday, March 16, 10:00-10:40PM, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop
Sometimes I can’t say it better than the band does, so I bring you an annotated edition of the band’s own description of itself.
“They play techno with rock taste, and all in the white suite!!”
This means that they are a synth band with a more aggressive sound than usual. The “white suite” is harder to parse, and I imagine this means they recorded the album in a Quality Inn & Suites with very little artwork on the walls.
“You feel one of the best show man ship, comical and sometimes serious, during their live performance.”
It took me a little while to notice that this was a simple editing error. Showmanship. This means they have a great stage presence that will make you laugh sometimes while at other times you will be lost in important thought.
“Let’s call them a new age Japanism electro band!!”
They are a new age Japanism electro band.
Friday, March 17th. 9:00-9:40PM at Elysium
The description of POOOW! makes me want to apologize to ANALOGIX, as clearly it was just a clumsy translation, because the description for this band includes the line:
“They use the onomatopoeian sound of a violent impact to show the intensity of their proposal since they came together to create music full of energy.”
Yeah, I don’t know what they meant to write, either, but what I can say is that they really do create music full of energy, and they even feature a dedicated dancing guy, which is the best thing bands do.
I Googled them to find their videos. “Did you mean Pow?” I was asked. No, I didn’t. Pow is not the name of a Peruvian dance band that I intend to dance around in front of while trying to sing along in Spanish, all the while failing terribly at both.
Wednesday, March 15th. 8:00-8:40PM at Trinity Hall at Old School
A very promising sounding band from the … just kidding! I’ve heard of Weezer before. Who I hadn’t heard of before was …
This is a funky band from Monterrey, Mexico. In their videos, they dress like they live in Miami, but they don’t. They clearly want to. They describe themselves as “Explosive Funky Sexy Sassy Shit from Monterrey Mx,” and I love that description because it does most of my work for me.
The video I’ve clipped below is inspired by such classics as Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro” and Lonely Island’s “I’m On a Boat.” I desperately want their shows to be like this.
Saturday, March 18, 8:00-8:40 at Flamingo Cantina