More than 2,000 bands con­verged on Austin, Texas for the an­nual SXSW fes­ti­val; nat­u­rally, Jim Car­roll was there to sep­a­rate the merely great from the must-hear-nows. Here’s his SXSW 2012 list

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

IT WAS BRUCE Spring­steen who had the wis­est ad­vice of all for the thou­sands of new bands in Austin, Texas last week. “Rum­ble, young mu­si­cians, rum­ble,” the Boss told them at the end of a fas­ci­nat­ing, rum­bunc­tious, funny and heart­en­ing key­note speech dur­ing South By South­west 2012. Not that many of the acts needed Spring­steen’s en­cour­age­ment to rum­ble. Not, in­deed, that many of the acts were prob­a­bly around for Spring­steen’s high-noon pre­sen­ta­tion. They were ei­ther in bed or play­ing yet an­other gig some­where else around town.

For new acts and fans of new mu­sic alike, SXSW in March has be­come an an­nual pil­grim­age. More than 2,000 bands from all points north, south, east and west de­scend on Austin for a mu­si­cal jam­boree that’s big­ger, brasher and bet­ter than any­thing else on the planet.

But the new acts seek­ing to make a name for them­selves are just part of the SXSW mu­si­cal pie.

The fes­ti­val’s huge suc­cess and pro­file means more es­tab­lished acts now ar­rive in town to grab some head­lines and trac­tion for them­selves and their new al­bum or tour. Thus you had se­cret and not-so-se­cret shows all week by such big-name acts as Spring­steen, Jay-z, Eminem, The Roots, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nas, Erykah Badu, Rick Ross and oth­ers.

Com­pet­ing with those mar­quee names for at­ten­tion is dif­fi­cult, yet the beauty of SXSW is that there is room for all. Not ev­ery­one can get to see Jay-z shilling for a credit card com­pany in a 2,000-ca­pac­ity venue, for in­stance, but those who don’t get in can go off to find other bands to check out. It works, af­ter a fash­ion: we’ve yet to hear of any band who played a SXSW show to ab­so­lutely no one.

A no­tice­able as­pect of this year’s event was that it fea­tured a lot of re­peat book­ings from 2011, which is an in­di­ca­tion and ac­knowl­edge­ment of the fact that it takes time for a new band to de­velop. It also meant that those of us who’d raved about acts like Grimes, Ober­hofer and Rep­tar last year could say “I told you so”. We’ll hope­fully be say­ing the same thing about many of the names on our list in 2013.


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