Nathan.Lankford’s SXSW 2013 Recap

Nathan_SxSW_ThoughtsFinally, it’s over.  After over a 100 bands, 100 beers, a few tacos, we’re back to the daily grind.  The beast that is SXSW is officially behind us now, so we’ll be spending a bit of time highlighting our own individual thoughts on the festival.  We’re not trying to inundate you with the next big thing, we just want to recap what we caught.  I’m on first!

Best Bands:

Wax Idols dominated their set at Red 7 for the ForceField PR Party. Sure, the bassist could use some pep in her step, but the rest of the band created enough showmanship to win this fan over.  Hether is something to behold, even while running low on energy with a cold; you just can’t take your eyes off her.  Oh, and their upcoming album is going to be excellent, bringing a loud barrage of twist and turns of the darkened post-punk sort.

I probably could’ve seen Warm Soda more times than I did, but the once was good enough to make them jump to the top of my list.  Their blend of crisp power-pop was executed perfectly. They didn’t even have the greatest sound to work with, but they still had everyone at the Grand jumping about for the entirety of their set.

Nobunny was backed the whole week by Bad Sports. It made his set more succinct, providing a more professional punk rock feel to his tunes.  Now, I’m all for some sloppily played punk rock, but when you’ve got execution added to your hooks, you’ve got a guaranteed winning set.  Mr. Bunny was even kind enough to let me snag a picture with one of my favorite performers.

I loved the most recent release, Privilege, by Parenthetical Girls, but catching them live is something you have to see to believe.  Zac Pennington more or less has his way with the crowd, climbing about the stage and pacing about the venue.  The orchestral pop movements behind him were also pristine, so it was a simple combination of showmanship and great sound. Easy choice.


Here’s a list of some acts I loved that were just on the cusp of SXSW greatness: IO Echo, Part Time, Shout Out Louds, Pharoahs, Parquet Courts, Metz, The Pharmacy, Chris Cohen, TEEN, Girls Names, Fear of Men.

Band’s That Let Me Down:

Young Galaxy.  Man, I tried to catch the band twice, but only actually caught them once.  Both times they struggled with sound issues, delaying their sets.  I was underwhelmed for sure when they finally played.

Darwin Deez has a soft spot in my heart for his quirky pop, but live, it was like watching Cake become a jam band. Neither of which I enjoy.

Band I Should’ve Seen:

Merchandise.  I really like the band, but it just didn’t fit into my schedule for some reason. I failed, but I wanted you to know that everyone I heard from said they were incredible, and perhaps one of the best acts of SXSW.

Best Place to see the Most Bands: 

Hotel Vegas/Volstead.  Hands down the best place to pack your list full of great bands.  I must have caught at least 40 of my 100 some odd acts of the week here.  Beer was cheap, staff was friendly, and pretty much on-time the whole week.  Love it.

Best Staff/Venue:

Easy. It’s Mohawk and Red 7.  They always treat the locals right, and they always put on a smile, even when they’re swamped by hordes of out-of-towners. Thanks guys.

Most Hated Trend:

Seriously people, there’s 10000 bands in town, and all you can think about is free beer? I hate you. Honestly. I love free booze too, and I won’t complain about it when it’s given, but I can’t even begin to count the times I saw people walk away from the bar disappointed because they weren’t offering anything up free.  Maybe it’s the corporate side of SXSW now, which I can totally do without, but that’s an argument for another day. Just don’t tell me you came all the way to Austin to score free stuff!

Celeb Sighting:

None. I actually didn’t really hear about anyone chasing Bill Murray or the Gos this week, but I did meet a personal celebrity.  I got to meet Kevin from What’s Your Rupture, who has been a longtime on-line friend.  To me, it exemplified everything running a site is about, and everything that is great about SXSW.  You get to meet people you love and respect that otherwise wouldn’t be in your town.  We also got to spark some new friendships with the folks at Father Daughter Records and Log Lady…so cheers to that.

Final Thought: 

While it may take me a few weeks to recover from the damage I did to my body, I’m not going to complain.  I met some incredible people, hung out with old friends and saw incredible acts all in  a short span.  Yep, I agree, the monster seems to be getting out of control, especially if you went down to 6th Street at night, but I’ll take it.  Beer, sunshine, friends, bands…I’m just glad it only comes once a year.  Hats off to the bands and everyone else who worked hard to make SXSW a success.



  • A little consolation for missing Merchandise (I did as well), they’ll be back in town for Chaos in Tejas – so you don’t have to wait too long to make up for it.

  • Yeah. It was either catching their set or Girls Names, so I went with Girls Names…figured Merchandise will tour more in the US, as opposed to some Belfast band.

  • The other bands I missed but wanted to see are White Lung (will be back 4/6) and Parquet Courts (also back for Chaos in Tejas) so hopefully I’ll get to round out my SXSW soon.

    if that’s how it works…

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