Ric Leichtung is one of the founders of Adhoc.fm, a daily independent music and visual arts publication brought to you by the brilliant minds behind Altered Zones (RIP). Check them out on Facebook and Twitter!
Let's just get this out in the open: it's total bullshit that anyone should ever have to pay $750 to wait in line to see bands in overcrowded, poorly run, and shamelessly sponsored concert halls, patios, and dive bars. But beyond the heavy price tag and the 56-foot vending machine/sky-raping phallus Doritos constructed on E 5th and Red River is that many of these bands don't see a cent for playing of these showcases. If you're a band at SXSW and you're going to play for free, you might as well play in your own element to people who care about who you are and what you do, rather than a bunch of Harold and Kumar bros who passed on Cancun because they couldn't find their passports under their puka shell necklaces.
But you don't really need the badge--the best places to see music during SXSW are in the outskirts of the 6th street area at the warehouses, house parties, and impromptu shows on the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge or behind the Wendy's on 6th and Brushy under the freeway. Here are some of the best shows I've seen at my first day at SXSW.
It's rare that you'll find much metal down in Austin, but luckily Brandon Stosuy, the writer behind the metal column Show No Mercy, hand-picked eight bands to play at ND Studios. San Francisco's Deafheaven was the band that resonated most with both with the genre's rabid followers, and with the uninitiated as they switched between ambient post-rock guitar work and black metal. Respec's projections of early Japanese war films, one of which featured a warrior walking around with an arrow in his neck, fit really well with frontman George Clarke's screams of anguish. Just looking at Clarke's neck of raging veins and purple face, you'd think the was some kind of monster.
These Toledo-based punks have been making noise for a while now, releasing tapes and seven-inches with Siltbreeze and HoZac over the past 5 years. At the sound of their soundcheck, which teased a shitgazed rendition of the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night," the audience swarmed the front of Beerland. Once the frontman got their attention, he took the opportunity of asking for weed after the set, which only fed the crowd's level of stokedness. The Areolas only played a few songs, but along the way they put forth equal helpings of noise, psych, and sloppy punk. Extra points awarded for the X Ray Spex-style sax freakouts.
Impose and affiliates of Brooklyn DIY venue Shea Stadium put together a hell of a hip hop showcase that boasted Main Attrakionz, eXquire, and standout Danny Brown, who already has pretty a serious following despite being a thirty-year-old dude from Detroit with a fucked up haircut. The rapper was in top form last night as all of the white people crowd forgot what race they were, waving their hands in the air and shouting Brown's infectious ad libs all throughout his set.
2013: The Year Nelly Was Everywhere and Nowhere at the Same Time
No other artist spent as much time so close to the Zeitgeist as Nelly this year without being even remotely close to being the Zeitgeist.
You Don’t Like Childish Gambino's 'Because the Internet' Because of the Internet
Don't allow the narrative surrounding Donald Glover's musical career define the way you think.
The Real Difference Between a Mixtape and an Album
Why do rappers still about sales when they could release a mixtape, gain exposure, and cash in later?
Are the Grammys Irrelevant or Did Yeezus Actually Suck?
Breaking down Yeezy's obsession with the awards.
2013: A Year In Which Some Music Happened
A year’s art starts on Day One of the new year. If we don’t quantify it somehow by December, who are we as a people and what is our worth?
If R. Kelly Makes Us So Uncomfortable, Why Do We Keep Listening?
This is art we're talking about, and it's as real as you allow it to be.
Britney Spears: Capitalism's Last Stand
At last, the Queen has found her domain.
The Real Rick Ross Stands Up
We met with the ex-crack kingpin, who told us stories from his drug dealing days and gave us an exclusive excerpt from his upcoming autobiography.
Sorry, Dudes. The Ladies Won Punk This Year.
These are the women who kicked a particularly large amount of ass in 2013.
2013: The Most OK Year Ever
Kitty Pryde reflects on her sort of shitty, sort of amazing 2013.