By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Geographically speaking, it makes perfect sense why we see so many shows in town come mid- to late March. Yet, every year, it manages to surprise us.
Below is a breakdown of some of the more promising shows coming through as a result of South by Southwest overspill. But it's hardly all of them. See our Music Listings and Critics' Picks (starting on page 55) for more shows to keep an eye on this week.
FRIDAY, MARCH 20
Lola's Sixth Street, Fort Worth
Guitarist Andrew Langer and drummer Rob Jensen left The Redwalls to form a new band, The Sleeptalkers (Chicago), which sounds a lot like their former band, but with more roots and less British Invasion influence. Oh, and better.
SATURDAY, MARCH 21
Lola's Sixth Street, Fort Worth
The fuzzy, scruffy power trio in Radio Moscow (Story City, Iowa) plays great '60s-influenced rock that falls somewhere between Hendrix and MC5 on the spectrum. Earlier on this same day, they'll be playing the High Times Doobie Awards in Austin, so expect some long solos. The Woes (New York City), meanwhile, are a lot harder to describe, but their music features ragtime, bluegrass, country and folk-rock influences. With a tuba.
Lola's Stockyard, Fort Worth
This is about as odd a pairing as possible. Those Darlins (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) is a trio of harmonizing country hipster chicks. Arts-and-crafts-and-feminism rag Bust loves 'em, if that's any indication. How Fort Worth's grunge-loving Stella Rose fits with them is anyone's guess.
SUNDAY, MARCH 22
The Lounge on Elm Street
South by South Flesh certainly has the most ambitious lineup of the week, featuring 14 bands alternately playing 20- to 30-minute sets upstairs and downstairs, starting with Juarez (Tucson) upstairs at 3:30 p.m. And, really, there's not a bad band in the bunch. Headliner Young Widows (Louisville, Kentucky) falls somewhere between hardcore and metal, except with some brains to back up the brawn. The band specializes in short, punchy headbangers with an emphasis on rhythm and is frequently compared to Shellac and Jesus Lizard, which makes sense. But their great song "Mirrorfucker," with its noisy slide riff, recalls a heavier Polvo. Another highlight will be Thee Oh Sees (San Francisco), which started out as a folk band, but has since evolved considerably to produce its current psychedelic brand of garage rock, with thumping drums, tambourine, layered overdriven guitars and echoing vocals. Meanwhile, Nathan Williams' one-man band Wavves (San Diego) will perform at the venue's upstairs stage at 9:30 p.m. One of the most buzzing acts heading into SXSW, Williams will bring a drummer along to help bash out his insanely catchy, fuzzy, poppy tunes. Back downstairs, Jagjaguwar band Women (Calgary) will bring its jangly, melodic and occasionally noisy rock at 8 p.m. Fortunately, the bar should be able to supply the wine to go with your Women and song. But, most of all, be sure to be there by 6:30 to catch Abe Vigoda (Los Angeles), which crafts Afro-pop-influenced punk songs with complicated-yet-catchy melodies and hints of noise; the likeminded but inferior Vampire Weekend should have retired in shame after touring with the band. Speaking of vampires, Wavves tourmates Vampire Hands (Minneapolis) will offer a swirling, textured, bass-heavy rock set at 5:30 p.m.
Lola's Sixth Street
Sub Pop band The Obits (Brooklyn) play straightforward riff-rock while Bear Hands (Brooklyn) feature herky-jerky rhythms and punchy bass that should appeal to Wolf Parade fans. The female-fronted The Moaners (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) play bluesy slide-guitar; for a local comparison, they split the difference between Jetscreamer and THe BAcksliders. Whispertown 2000 (Los Angeles) is a quirky country act whose singer affects a Feist-y frog-in-the-throat drawl; I'm starting to think I'm the only person on Earth who doesn't like this vocal style, because it sure is popular. Admission to this show gets you into Lola's Stockyards, too, which also has a highly recommended lineup...
The Devil Makes Three (Santa Cruz, California) plays punk-spiked blues folk, but Drew Andrews (San Diego), on the other hand, plays a brand of folk that's much airier and intimate. Not appearing Sunday are Andrews' other bands, The Album Leaf and Via Satellite.