SXSW Top 10 Live Acts

sxsw_liveacts_coverIs anyone else just a little bit sad today as we wrap up another amazing SXSW Festival in Austin? I know we here at ATH are as depressed as anyone to head back into the real world today. Gone are the carefree days of roaming around downtown in search of the best music and the best parties with free red bull and vodka. While still nursing our hangovers and mending our bruises, we would like to share with you the best live acts that we caught this past week. You may have heard of most of these bands or they may be completely new to you, but regardless, these bands brought the noise at SXSW. We tried to be fair and pick the acts that either lived up to a certain hype or just rocked our faces to the floor.  Follow the jump for our top 10 live acts of SXSW.

blackjoelewis10. Black Joe Lewis

So we really needed a local act for this list and Black Joe just seemed like the obvious choice. We caught Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears at the outside stage of Paste’s Radio Room on the first day of music for SXSW. Of course the band rocked out and Black Joe did his best Little Richard/James Brown impersonation. If you still haven’t seen this band live, make a point to do so before the rest of the country picks up on the greatness. -RR

schoolof7bells9. School of Seven Bells

This one girl I knew told me that this little set was going to be ridiculously good, as she had seen them the day before. Skeptical, I sat back to watch the three piece bring their space-dance melodies to the decently sized audience at Emos. I couldn’t have agreed with my new friend more, as the band brought catchy tune after catchy tune to my Lone Star filled hands. -NL

rubycoast8. Ruby Coast

We really love this band, which is precisely why we wanted them to play our showcase during their first ever venture below the Canadian border. Their combination of keyboard and catchy guitar had everyone in attendance dancing about the room with the band, and I do mean the band, as they jumped off stage to join the dancing, encouraging everyone to fall for our new favorite Canadians. -NL

goldenanimals7. Golden Animals

We caught this band at Bill’s place (which turned out to be one of our favorite crazy SXSW venues) on Friday night after much debate about where to go. We were happy we found the venue and were even more excited about the solid lineup in Bill’s backyard. Highlight of the evening came from throwback to the 60s band Golden Animals. We were familiar with the band’s material prior to the show, but were excited that the band also delivered a nice live set. Golden Animals provide a bit of White Stripes guitar stylings along with some old school Jimi Hendrix wah pedal to produce a sweet garage/psych-rock sound. -RR

efterklang6. Efterklang

This band really should be higher up on the list, but seeing as I had no idea who they were, they didn’t quite make it to the top. I was resting, recovering in fashion from an absence of water in the system, and all of a sudden I was moved to my feet. The band resembled a more organic Arcade Fire, but their combination of electronics made the set all the more moving for me. Having only heard the name of this band before, I now consider them contenders for one of my favorite acts. -NL

mward5. M. Ward

To be honest, we weren’t terribly excited when we saw that M. Ward would be playing the Radio Room indoor stage without a backing band. Normally we want to be rocked out, not serenaded with just an acoustic guitar and some vocals. M. Ward may be one of the few artists who can create such a full sound and quiet an entire room of people with just his guitar. Somehow, the guy can create a full sound with bass, percussion and picking/strumming with just his guitar in hand. Raspy quiet vocals mixed in perfectly with M. Ward’s band like guitar work to create a truly incredible solo set.  Who needs Zooey? -RR

thermals14. Thermals

I’ve seen this band many many times before, but they have a new drummer nowadays, not to mention a highly anticipated new album heading our way soon. They played a few new tracks, as well as a few oldies. Rocking fast and hard, as they always do, the band blew through their set. The new drummer sounded great, and I made friends with the energetic MTV legend John Norris as we played dual air guitars through the entire lightning paced set. Thanks for being my friend John. -NL

girls3. Girls

This band has been lauded as the next big thing all across the land of the blog, but I never really bought my ticket to the hype show. However, I just bought one this past week because this was by and large one of the best shows that I saw, the second best to be exact. The blend of classic psychedelia with pristine pop elements and feedback made this band everything they had promised to become, or bloggers had promised. Just add them to the list of bands who will be releasing highly anticipated albums this year. -NL

painsofbeing2. Pains of Being Pure at Heart

I can only go on about this band for so much longer before you all get sick and tired of hearing about them, but seriously, have you heard this album? It’s amazing, and it was just as amazing live. While I would have liked for the female vocals to go up a bit live, I still enjoyed the fact that their sound trasnferred perfectly to the live setting, and they seemed rather jovial to boot. Everything I had hoped for with regards to this band came my way, and my ears and heart were better off for it. -NL

glasvegas1. Glasvegas

GO SQUARE GO! If you didn’t feel that shit hit you right in the face at Mohawk on Thursday, you better check to make sure you’re alive. Glasvegas are winners of the award for most hyped band that really produced at SXSW. We’ve been hyping this band so much since last summer that we were sure we’d be let down by this show. Not the case. Glasvegas showed up and packed raw emotion and tight musicianship into a sweat soaked and intense set. Most in attendance said that the Scotish boys stole the show from the true headliners of the day Trail of Dead and ATH can’t disagree with that. Even better, lead singer James nabbed an ATH sticker from us and flashed it while walking off stage (anybody get a pic?) completely exhausted from being a rock star.  Please come back to Austin and give us a proper show sometime soon. Here we fucking go. -RR

So obviously we only went to free shows so we missed out on Metallica, Jane’s Addiction, etc.  We just couldn’t be everywhere at once so shoot us a comment on what band we left off.  Who impressed you the most?


  • Great list, though I must say Colourmusic was great at the ATH showcase. I wasn’t ready for the face melting that early in the day.

  • @trent: PREACH

    In response to the “who needs Zooey question”… my hand is firmly in the air waving around.

  • When are the pics for the showcase going to be up?

  • Trent-

    I will say that the sole reason for the exclusion of that band from our list lies in the fact that we have spent the last year hyping the much-deserved Colourmusic, thus we fully expected nothing less than pure rock from them. Yes, they were great, but we knew it would be so–and, a few other bands need attention as well; we can’t devote the whole site to Colourmusic, though if they keep playing like that, we just might.

  • I vote for starting:

  • Th reunited Frodus? Milemarker? The reunited Van Pelt? The reunited Silver Scooter?

    Nothing? It seems nobody went to this magical show!

  • I would have loved to see both Milemarker and Silver Scooter, but alas, I had places to be, and socializing to do. Come on Michael, you know how it is being local, you get caught up in the booze. Tell us, how was Silver Scooter?

  • When I saw them 8 years ago they were fantastic. I couldn’t make the drive from Houston this year, so I have no idea what it’s like to be local.

    Houston gets none of this beautiful run-off.

  • I would have to agree whole-heartedly on Efterklang, though I was well aware of their musical fortitude pre-sxsw. I caught 3 out of the their 4 shows during the week and they just seemed to gel throughout the week, culminating in blowing the roof off of emo’s jr. I feel sorry for those poor ut fans watching basketball instead of witnessing what I think was the best show overall at a fest littered with great shows. I predict great things for this group in the future and can’t wait for the new album to drop. Kudos on a good list.

  • PJ Harvey @ Stubb’s was epic. Like real epic! Her first time in Austin, and probably will be her last time (she’s not much for touring the u.s.). PJ was a pure rock goddess up there.

    Other than that… The Pains were damn good when I caught them at Red 7. Like you said their sound transferred perfectly. I saw The Rosebuds three times, and each time they found a way to add a little different spice to the performance. New discovery goes to The Pity Party; the female lead vocalist is singing, playing the keyboard, and playing the drums all at the same time. It was quite impressive.

  • I am in full support of Those guys are almost as amazing as a free iPod!

    Thanks again for having us guys. Next year?

  • Crystal Antlers at Club 1808 rocked so hard.

    Third Eye Blind at the Convention Center was $$$.

  • As an ATH spokesperson, I hope we don’t have to wait until next year to have you guys down again.

  • Hey, thanks for coming out to the Sinister Foxy-sponsored party at Bill’s Place. That was an amazing night of fun!

  • Too right re: Glasvegas. Awesome and completely worth the time spent to be there. If this year isn’t their year, then next year for sure. Spectacular.

  • Weyhey Glasvegas have done us proud once again (am from Glasgow in case you didnt notice) & this is Glasvegas’s year 😉 what other band get’s invites to support U2!!!! Oasis!!! and the Kings of Leon in the same year??? Now who wants wants to Go for a G0-Square-Go lol

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