20 new bands we found in Austin, Texas
The annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin is one of the world’s premier showcases for up-and-coming bands. Jim Carroll reports from Texas on the 2008 acts that got feet tapping, heads banging and label guys licking their lips
OU come to South By Southwest (SXSW) to binge-gig. The world’s most exciting music festival means four days and nights of bands, bands and more bands playing every conceivable – and often ludicrously inconceivable – venue all over Austin, Texas. Over 1,700 acts turned up last week to play their hearts out, a new record for the 22-year-old fest.
Yet SXSW is ostensibly more than just about live bands. It’s also one of the big-hitters on the music industry conference circuit. By day, the convention centre hosted interviews with Lou Reed, Daryl Hall, Steve Reich, Mick Jones and legendary talent scout Seymour Stein, as well as discussion panels on the state of the music industry. These covered everything from 360 deals (where record labels take a share of all a band’s revenue streams) and international festivals, to using blogs to plug your band, getting your music onto TV shows and how to make sure you don’t sign away your publishing rights to a shyster.
This year, though, there was a notably lacklustre atmosphere at both the panels and the trade show, where music companies go to buy and sell goods and services. While hot weather may have been partly to blame, the subdued mood was probably as much due to current industry woes (fewer record label reps present, for example) as it was a reflection of how SXSW is now more about the live shows all over town than the industry chinwags.
So this year, all the action happened onstage. You could have spent every minute of every day watching bands, with pit stops for huevos rancheros (classic Mexican breakfast) at Las Manitas, tacos at Guero’s or chilli from the Texan Chilli Parlour to keep you going.
Over the course of SXSW, this writer saw about 80 bands in all. Here are 20 acts who made me go “wow”.