Out of touch with which cutting edge artists to see at SxSW? Head for the disappointment-free zone with these rock stalwarts.
You swore it would never happen to you. You’d never be one of those middle-aged rockers who falls completely out of touch with the current music scene, clinging instead to the comforting sounds of your youth. You even bought a SXSW badge or wristband this year to prove you’re down with the latest sonic developments in the realms of dream pop, grime, nu metal, and nerdcore. But now, looking over the schedule, you have to admit to yourself that you wouldn’t know Future Thieves from Future Elevators, or Grandpa Death Experience from Guantanamo Baywatch. Sure, you’re willing to take a few chances, but you spent a lot of money to be here and you don’t want to waste valuable time that could be better spent waiting in line for barbecue. Fear not! There are plenty of vintage acts playing this year’s festival, and we’ve picked out 10 that are sure to deliver the goods.
Bash & Pop (Hotel Vegas patio, March 15, 8 pm)
Even if the name of the band doesn’t ring a bell, you surely recognize bassist Tommy Stinson, founding member of The Replacements? Bash & Pop released their first album Friday Night is Killing Me in 1993 and it has taken 24 years for them to follow it up with the brand-new Anything Could Happen, featuring the garage-y goodness of “On the Rocks.”
Cindy Wilson (The Sidewinder outside, March 13, 11;45 pm)
More than 40 years after the formation of the B-52s, Cindy Wilson is still touring with the band, but she’s taking a break from shaking the “Love Shack” long enough to perform this solo set in support of her upcoming album Change. It’s aptly titled, as you can tell from the sinuous groove of “On the Inside.”
Fastball (Parish, March 15, 9 pm)
You may only remember Fastball from their infectious 1998 hit “The Way,” and even then you might have thought it was an Elvis Costello song. But Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga and Joey Shuffield have been churning out their catchy brand of power pop on a semi-regular basis since then, including on their latest, Step into the Light, due out in May. Still, you know what you want to hear.
Miss Lavelle White and the L Men (Cooper’s BBQ, March March 14, 9 pm)
White has been a staple of the blues circuit since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1994 that she recorded her first album, Miss Lavelle, for Austin’s own Antone Records. Locals have the opportunity to catch her fiery sets every week at Antone’s, but for out-of-towners, this may be a once in a lifetime chance.
James Chance & the Contortions (Barracuda backyard, March 14, 11:15 pm)
Remember No Wave, the short-lived punk subculture that emphasized dissonance, noise, and atonality as a reaction against poppy New Wave? Even if you do, you may not have thought of James Chance & the Contortions in decades, but that’s no reason to miss this opportunity to check out the surviving members of the original lineup in support of their reunion album The Flesh is Weak.
Modern English (Barracuda backyard, March 14, 12:15 am)
They came from the ‘80s! And, mostly, they stayed there. Despite re-recording their smash hit “I Melt with You” twice in the intervening decades, the original lineup (or most of it, anyway) hadn’t recorded an album of new material in 30 years until 2016’s Take Me to the Trees. If you go, please don’t spend the whole set yelling “Meeeeelt!!!” They’ll play it, I’m sure.
Robyn Hitchcock (Buffalo Billiards, March 15, 9 pm)
Hitchcock is no stranger to SXSW, but it’s been four years since his last appearance, so the schedulers have been generous: in addition to the Buffalo Billiards gig, you can catch him at Central Presbyterian Church on St. Paddy’s Day at 9:35 and later that night at Victorian Room. There’s no new album to support, so perhaps he’ll reach back into the catalogue.
Spoon (The Main, March 14-16, 1 am)
You know you’re getting old when you still think of Spoon as that hip, young band you used to pay three bucks to see at the Electric Lounge. The Lounge is long gone, but Spoon has ascended to godfather status in the indie rock world, and they’ll be playing a three-night stand on their home turf just in time for the release of their first album in three years, Hot Thoughts.
Waco Brothers (Continental Club, March 15, 1 am)
Bloodshot Records refers to the Waco Brothers as the undisputed champions of SXSW, and it’s hard to argue. They rarely skip the festival, and usually play a number of day parties in addition to their official showcase. If you miss out on the rollicking cowpunk of Jon Langford and company, you’re just not trying hard enough.
Weezer (Brazos Hall, March 17, 12 am)
Time to change the name to Geezer? Not quite yet, as the ‘90s alternative stalwarts have been on something of a tear in recent years, releasing their tenth album (and fourth self-titled one) in 2016. Who knows what to expect from their SXSW showcase, but we can hold out hope for a few golden oldies.