Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, pt. VI: Saturday, March 15

The sixth and final installment, in which our intrepid reporter won a prize, enjoyed some fine audio engineering and also photographed a clean and tidy toilet. It was apparently that kind of day.

Last post I wrote about youthful energy and the fact that SXSW will truly kick your ass. Despite the fact that I’m somewhere just south of 30 myself, I was well and truly dragging by that Saturday. Forget making it downtown by noon: I called it a success that I was out of bed and dressed in real clothes, much less getting coffee near the day’s first venue, by 1pm.

Though it helped to know I was on my last day of festivities, it helped even more that I was seeing Kan Wakan again. As much as I’d liked the band before SXSW, I grew to like them expontentially more after seeing them a few times. That’s something I find hard to say about many bands, much less fairly new bands which have been thrown into the pressure cooker of a festival.

Like most performers, Kristianne Bautista is appreciative of as much support as fans can offer and will openly admit to stage jitters, but she puts herself into star league with the grace she exhibits under stress. Maybe it’s her excellent deadpan expression, and maybe it helps that she’s onstage with six other people who are handling nervousness at the same time, but she wears “frontwoman” very well.

That was especially apparent at the Cedar Street Courtyard Throwdown show, which featured a giant video screen reflecting the band behind itself into infinity. Kan Wakan played as flawlessly as I’d come to expect and the projectors made for some really fun photo ops; the show was probably my favorite of the entire week.

Plus, as the 600th person entering the courtyard, I won a free poster from Filter Magazine. One learns to appreciate small things at SXSW, especially when it comes to free shit. Can’t beat free shit.

In addition to catching some of the free vitamin D and a little musical history, I later enjoyed some of the Take Me To The River Showcase that was clearly audible across the water. The show ended before I could cross the bridge to see it in person, but I still felt as though I’d been in the presence of greatness.

Also, I really must commend the sound techs for their work with loudspeakers: the audio sounded super crisp even a quarter of a mile away over some trees, a lawn, and an expanse of open water. Because that was the case, I felt like walking the Austin Hike-and-Bike Trail was a better and more appropriate way to listen than standing in a crowded outdoor auditorium would have been.


Besides, there were no lines for the (clean and tidy!) public toilets. Insert “can’t beat free shit” jokes here.


Life can’t be all about sunshine, flowers, the smell of early-spring river water, and free outdoor showcases of Memphis music legends, though. After a perfect little hike, I had to get back to work — at another free show, this time on the rooftop of Austin’s original Whole Foods.

A hard life, right? Perfectly drudgerous, I’m sure everyone is thinking. Haha, right. If you’re actually thinking “that sounds awesome, you terrible little asshole,” you would be correct.

At the time, however, I was exhausted. I felt drunk even though I was sober. My grip on reality was probably wavering. It was hard to keep my mind off coffee and I wondered how everyone else was managing themselves. So it was a little refreshing and very hilarious that my fellow showgoers on the Whole Foods roof were managing by lounging in lawn chairs, taking off their shoes, and drinking beer: though the stage didn’t look like much, for better or worse it was probably the chillest venue I’d been to all week.

There, in that inauspicious location, I wrapped up my first SXSW experience with a set from Best Revenge.

The new project from Keaton Simons and Deantoni Parks had a lot in common both visually — one guy on drums, one guy on guitar and vocals — and sonically — big rollicking bluesy rock — with The Black Keys, but “the derivative of a derivative band” looked good on them. They melded hook-y sing-along lyrics, blues, rockabilly, and the hint of electronic beats into extremely danceable if unsurprising songs.

Parks, his kit lacking cymbals other than a hi-hat, played bass organ and cued samples with one hand while drumming with the other; Simons indulged his self-described “music nerd” side by switching frequently between a selection of guitars. Most notably, they looked like they had a lot of fun. It made for a positive and energetic show, a good ending point for my week.

Because when in Rome: After their set, I recycled my bottle of fresh-pressed juice, grabbed a cold-brew to go from my favorite Austin coffee spot, and went home.

As usual, people were still partying in my wake, making the most of their time on earth. I guess we had all learned something from our experience. But even if some people hadn’t, even if they were just partying on into the night because partying was what they knew how to do best, it seemed like everyone had a good damned time.

Final Thoughts: Even though it was often frustrating, could be frequently obnoxious, and drained a body’s energy quicker than my Android sucks battery life, South By Southwest was pretty awesome. I am SO doing this again next year. Probably still sans badge and maybe with a fuller schedule. But hopefully with all 10 functional fingers and long after a total recovery from pneumonia.


Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, Pt. V: Friday, March 14

In which our intrepid reporter finds out SXSW really is as exhausting as everyone says it is, but rallies to attend more shows.

By day three, I had personally confirmed what we’ve all been told: SXSW kicks your ass. I managed to drag myself downtown before noon only by promising myself a cup of coffee at Mellow Johnny’s, where Wye Oak was playing a 12pm set.

The band was already playing as I bought my coffee, but I couldn’t tell if they were playing an old song or a new one. Like mr. Gnome, Wye Oak hasn’t changed their sound very much between albums #3 and #4. Jenn Wasner has switched from electric guitar to electric bass, and Andy Stack has added an electronic drum-pad to his kit, but at SXSW they were quite recognizably the same band. Wasner even managed to make her bass sound light and silvery at times, which was the most unexpected thing to jump out at me from their performance.

Ultimately this is unsurprising, considering the lyric-based character of Wye Oak’s previous records. Now as before, listeners should expect to make the music into a contemplative experience in order to really absorb it. Wasner — an extremely approachable frontwoman, if anyone ever wants to stick around a show to chat — understandably feels that anyone who doesn’t “get” it should listen to virtually anyone else: she performs for herself and for her fans. She’s quite open about her difficulties with writing a fourth record, and maintains that switching her instrumentation reinvigorated her creative process while inspiring her to keep getting onstage day after day. Judging by their latest single and the SXSW show I saw, fans of her established sound will definitely be interested in and not alienated by the band’s new work.

Next: blogmistress Jennifer had put in detective work to find out when Charli XCX was playing, so I put her time to good use and went to see my favorite British pop star play at the Flamingo Cantina.

Since I’d learned a lesson about being late, I went early, and that was a wise choice. For one thing, plenty of free swag was available for my free choosing. For another, I was treated to a charmingly eccentric set by a Welshman called Gruff Rhys, whose style shifted from guitar-driven folk to semi-pop to the only reggae I’ve ever heard played by a white man that didn’t make me feel instantly angry.

Finally, I got to watch the venue fill to capacity from an actual seat with an actual view of the stage.

Which was lucky, because Charli XCX‘s sets are made to be seen and not just heard. The young Brit, who is currently touring with a full female band, has a true rock-and-roll sense of style and stage performance — she roams the stage, dances, thrashes, flings her head of huge curly hair, and generally lets herself be free.

Some of it is surely due to the fact that she’s only 21, with years of international pop performance already under her belt, but none of it is obviously faked or put on: her rock-stardom seems as honest and natural as her breezy offstage attitude does when you, say, run into her at a vendor’s stall. She clearly makes big, brassy, sometimes silly, but nonetheless sincere pop music because that’s what she wants to make, just like she dances “like you’ve never seen anyone dance before” because that’s simply how she dances. The straightforwardness makes her live shows into a genuine thrill and a front-to-back good time, whether she’s belting out an ode to drunken crushes or a break-up song, and I genuinely hope age (and years in the industry) never tarnishes her luster.

Speaking of age: despite being somewhere just south of thirty myself, that show wore me out. After trying for the second time that week to see a Felice Brothers show and being thwarted by a long line, I scrapped plans in favor of taking a break. Somewhere along the way I helped myself to one of many Deap Vally posters as a reminder to gather energy for their set later that night.

That break became longer than I’d expected, though, since I did not arrive early enough to beat the line for Klassik either.

The best I could manage was snapping a shot through the Thirsty Nickel window:

My lesson was relearned, too: thick drunken crowds on “Dirty Sixth” Street notwithstanding, I arrived at Trinity Hall when the Cherrytree Records party was just gathering steam. In fact, I even had time to catch a quick nap-sitting-up in one of the venue’s deep windowsills, and was a little revived for Sir Sly.

Since this band was one of Jennifer’s picks that I’d never listened to before, I briefly thought a pair of stage-divers were the actual band — although to their credit, they played a pretty decent impromptu song before exiting to cheers and clapping.

The real Sir Sly, however, combined surfer-ish rock with some hip-hop beats and no small number of huge pop hooks. Hearing that they hail from Orange County, CA, brought it all together for me: some bands sound like someone squeezed their geographic area into a pure living distillation, and Sir Sly is a particular subset of Orange County poured straight onto a record.

They threw themselves into their songs with untempered spirit, singing about love and angst the way only a recently-post-teenage Californian band can, winding the crowd up into one chanting sweating almost-entity. It reminded me of a sunnier version of that time we saw New Jersey kids moshing unrepentantly at a Titus Andronicus show.

After Sir Sly shook themselves off and loaded their gear out, it was Deap Vally time, though not everyone in the audience was excited for the same reasons.

The duo came onstage in some awesome outfits:

And I was really not in the mood for certain individuals’ reactions for many reasons, not least because it was clear within half a second of the set that these women were serious musicians. I was closest in proximity to Julie Edwards, who eagerly laid into her drumkit like it had wronged her. Meanwhile, guitarist and lead vocalist Lindsey Troy proved she could nail the ’80s-hair-metal thing live as well as she can in the studio, gleefully shredding and growling and screaming as though personally putting Steven Tyler in his place. They were everything I’d expected: loud and crass and good at what they do, purely and simply very entertaining.

Although this is obviously not their first rodeo, I would still happily punch anyone who ever reduces them to their bodies in my earshot again, and I think they’d approve of that on the basis of punk rock.

The only truly unfortunate part is that, as usual, I couldn’t stay for the whole late set. Instead, I met up with a fellow audience member I’d overheard delivering a perfect verbal smackdown to her own sexual harassers; we walked one another to our bus stops, taking more souvenir Deap Vally posters from the phone pole along the way. Although it was a little less showy than punching some asshole in the face would have been, looking out for each other seemed pretty in line with the band’s ethos too.


Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, pt. IV: Thursday, March 13

Our intrepid reporter goes to see some (more) live music. Also a mechanical bull.

On Thursday, I woke up to more than a dozen text messages asking if I was okay. Until I saw a news story about the night’s fatal accident, I had no idea why so many people would be concerned and wondered if I’d been sleeping for more than one day.

Once I read about what had happened, I debated skipping the day’s festivities out of respect, but eventually came to a conclusion: those who could party should get on with the partying in honor of all those who cannot party. I waited for the downtown bus with a spirit of gratitude.

That spirit started to fade after three city buses, from two different routes, passed our stop with partygoers packed inside to legal capacity. Everyone who could party definitely seemed to be partying, and I found myself wishing they had timed things a little more conveniently for us old people.

The bus ride, when I finally got one, was appropriately interesting.

I made it downtown just in time to miss several shows. While trying not to miss the final Doe Paoro show of SXSW 2014, I happened to see a band called Bear’s Den playing the New Shapes Day Party; another ensemble from the Commonwealth Nations who played Americana, they were upbeat and much more musically interesting than Mumford & Co., but they weren’t Doe Paoro. I moved on.

Ultimately, however, the effort was fruitless and I took a break rather than harshing any mellow.

Way to overachieve. The first show I actually saw that day was mr. Gnome, onstage at Rowdy Saloon at 7pm.

At least, the schedule said mr. Gnome went onstage at 7pm. Actually, they went onstage at 8pm. I got there early, left to get dinner, and still returned with enough time to watch the venue’s mechanical bull do its thing by itself for a little while.

Rowdy’s definitely got points for, and set the right party atmosphere by, being the first venue in my memory to feature a mechanical bull. Singer Nicole Barille agreed, and tried throughout the night to talk audience members into giving the bull a spin, but sadly nobody did so while I was watching.

To be fair, this was probably because the night was young and everyone was too busy watching mr. Gnome. I hadn’t seen them since 2010, so didn’t know what to expect — and they hadn’t changed much in the past four years.

That is not an insult. With a sound as unique as theirs, they don’t really need to change: because no one is doing anything too similar to what they’re doing, they don’t have to worry about standing out in a sea of sound-alikes, and a significant departure in technique would risk upsetting their formula anyway.

Newer tracks from their upcoming as-yet-unnamed fourth record sounded like a logical evolution from 2011’s Madness In Miniature, which was itself a subtle progression from 2009’s Heave Yer Skeleton, so the fresh material flowed easily and seamlessly back and forth from familiar older songs.

Other people who write about music have noted that the band’s sound is hard to pin down, but I felt it was nicely represented by the mix of people in their audience that night. Most showgoers were hipsters, seeming dazed but impressed by what they were hearing; an enthusiastic minority were metal fans and punks, and at least one psychedelic burnout evened out the mix. One young man wearing liberty spikes proclaimed early in the night that he’d buy a mr. Gnome hoodie even with his last dollar, and spent the entirety of one song holding his cigarette lighter aloft with the sincerity and reverence some would devote to praying at a shrine.

mr. Gnome might be weird and hard to describe, but they’ve obviously found and earned devotion from their people.

After I realized no one was ready to ride the mechanical bull, I headed over to watch Kan Wakan play at Lambert’s Barbecue. This time, the seven members were challenged to fit onto a stage best fit for a four-piece, but Kristianne Bautista assured me they’d fit on stages even smaller than that.

Sure enough, they all piled neatly on and got to work with another somewhat-shortened set, this one incorporating more unreleased songs. Watching them in this second, very different environment reinforced three things for me: 1. I really like this band, 2. They have all the goods to get famous, and 3. Their song “Are We Saying Goodbye” is super good stuff.

Kan Wakan "Are We Saying Goodbye" At: Guitar Center

Bautista tells me she once thought of her low voice as a flaw, but has fortunately changed her mind and now claims Nina Simone as an inspiration. Though I wouldn’t call Kan Wakan’s sound “jazzy”, that influence definitely comes through — and since so few indie-rock frontwomen work from the lower end of their range, hearing one this smooth and confident is a pleasure.

Even in a sort-of loud bar that kind of smells like vomit.

Jessica Lea Mayfield went on after Kan Wakan, but although I’d planned to stay for her set, I left in order to play safe again and catch a bus. However, I did see Jessica and her husband/bassist Jesse in the audience during the first part of Bautista’s performance. That, to my eyes, seemed like a good sign.


Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW pt. III: Wednesday March 12

Our intrepid reporter has been somewhat delayed by travel and technology, but has continued undaunted. Below is her report from her first show-filled day.

After spending numerous protracted coffee breaks trying to figure out the SXSW schedule, I finally hiked deep into the heart of No-Man’s Land — past the endless blocks of band parking, through a sea of Econoline vans and long-haired skinny-jeaned men lugging instrument cases — to The Echoplex SXSW Throwdown at Red 7. The bill featured a number of up-and-coming Los Angeles bands, but I only had ears for my new musical supercrush: Kan Wakan.

Determined to stake out a spot in front, I arrived early. But I needn’t have worried: Brandon the Swag Man still had a whole table full of free swag and the venue was far below capacity. Only a few hardcore festival-goers lingered in the courtyard, and I ran into singer Kristianne Bautista practically right away. She, too, was recovering from a fever and general travel fatigue, but was excited to meet a new fan. We chatted about her band’s rising fame while they set up, since a seven-piece act needs a little extra preparation.

Unfortunately, that extra work cut into their set time, and they went onstage with room for only four songs: one unreleased tune, the single “Forever Found”, and the two-song suite which closes their EP. And they delivered those four songs with total ease and confidence. It takes some heavy stones to play a twelve-minute orchestral piece in front of a handful of hungover stragglers at an afternoon showcase during a festival, and Kan Wakan simply threw down like it was no big deal. Bautista has an impeccable cool that makes her deep, rich voice roll like an ocean, while her band radiates technical proficiency and casual charisma. Show photographers take note, you will enjoy this band, because every single member is camera-savvy and has unpretentious stage presence.

Short as their set was, it flowed effortlessly and felt perfectly timed, like a miniature release party played live. The sound struck a sweet spot of relaxed intricacy, one that could resonate with serious fans as well as first-time listeners who were riding out a pot-and-alcohol haze. The suite wrapped up on a satisfying note, like a calling card tucked into a hand-picked bouquet, and the band amiably went on to the next gig like it was any other day in their lives. I mentally gave them eighteen months to become front-page famous, twelve-minute instrumental suite and all.

With that excellent start, I set off to Cheer Up Charlie’s, hoping to catch mr. Gnome and Jessica Lea Mayfield in one stop. To my dismay, the schedule had been updated and mr. Gnome’s set bumped up an hour; they were just wrapping up as I arrived.

Luckily Cheer Up’s is probably the most perfect SXSW venue for aimlessly hanging out, so I grabbed a cup of complimentary water and compared schedules with fellow showgoers — one of whom happened to be Nikki Kvarnes of Those Darlins. Jessi “Darlin'” Zazu and Charli XCX also happened by at the same time, so it felt like fate.

During that time, the courtyard slowly filled out until the house stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Those Darlins went on at 4, much to everyone’s delight. They growled and swaggered and laid down countryfied hair-metal-inspired garage rock for a solid forty-five minutes, part of which I spent in line for the restroom. By the time I came back, the cock rock had passed back into male hands and Adrian Barrera had the mic, which just didn’t have the same appeal.

If Those Darlins had a great turnout, Jessica Lea Mayfield did them just a little better, packing the courtyard from edge to edge. I grabbed a spot in front, just in time. She went on at 5, rocking a pair of glittery gold Martens and looking more like a Kurt/Courtney hybrid than Frances Bean currently does. Anyone deceived by Mayfield’s sparkly pink Gretsch and the kitty stickers on her pedals was quickly put right, since she laid immediately into a hard and heavy set. I stood directly in front of her, beside the central speakers, and it became quite clear why she titled her new record Make My Head Sing … : that shit will make you dizzy, in a good way.

The new, toothier treatment might be too strong to suit some of her earlier fans, but I felt it improved tracks from 2011’s Tell Me. Her band during that period was a very capable country-rock ensemble, but her current outfit has leveled up: she’s wisely eliminated a second guitarist and streamlined down to an extremely capable rhythm section, which highlights her own guitar prowess. Though she is clearly aiming for a spot in the neo-grunge pantheon, her voice is so sweetly emotive that she can never quite achieve true deadpan — which is for the better, since she can convey all the simmering resentment and barely-contained restlessness needed to layer her material with more than mere ennui or existential angst. I left impressed, my ears still swimming.

My day ended with back-to-back Doe Paoro shows, first at Banger’s Sausage House for a Dickies’ Roadhouse showcase. The band was sound-checking as I arrived, providing a pre-show teaser for the line forming outside. Although the venue did host Biebs earlier that week, they provided free gourmet sausages and a well-stocked green room trailer for talent, which slightly redeemed their karma. Talent was abundant, as well: after soundcheck, cellist and producer Yuri Hart gushed about crossing paths with Polica‘s Channy Leaneagh.

Despite taking stage while the venue’s barbecue was still heating up, Doe Paoro captivated the gathering dinner crowd. Singer Sonia Krietzer’s nimble vocals, influenced by both R&B and Tibetan opera, were rounded out by Hart on cello and keys, Tatiana Kochkareva on moog and vocoder, David Lizmi (fresh from touring with MS MR) providing bass and additional keyboard, and Chris Berry on both electronic and analog drums. Their sound was big but not overwhelming, fresh but not brassy; Krietzer tends to open shows by beckoning the audience closer, and this group didn’t hesitate. People danced and enthusiastically made iPhone videos, then talked praise after the set.

Because many downtown Austin streets were closed to auto traffic, I grabbed a keyboard case and trekked with the band on foot to the next gig. Although navigating South By Southwest crowds can be a chore even without gear, we managed to arrive at the aptly-named Holy Mountain by sheer force of will (and the people-parting powers of Hart’s cello).

Immediately upon entering the large tented courtyard, my equilibrium shifted. Until the following band mentioned the gig’s strange lighting, I thought I was having an acid flashback. Therefore, my observations of Doe’s set were slightly blue-tinged and wobbly, but I did notice the crowd having a great time; a drunk guy at the rail had an especially good experience and even seemed to know all the words. Krietzer had been worried about the logistics of singing two nearly back-to-back sets, but her voice — and characteristically dynamic stage presence — stood up perfectly to the test. Strange lighting only made it more memorable.

After the set ended, the band packed up, and I caught a licensed photographer sneaking my picture, I decided that “exhausted daze” was a bad look and headed home. The streets were full of more drunk people, most of them venue-hopping, some of them standing in groups to discuss intense interpersonal dramas; the pavement was strewn with empty bottles and discarded flyers, the city’s party not even close to winding down.

A few hours later and a few blocks away, a drunk driver would plow past police and through the traffic barricades into the crowd; four people would lose their lives and dozens more would be injured. But at the time I went home, the boogie was still swinging at full tilt strength and no one knew it would be anyone’s last.

– Joy/@paleotrees

Guest Post: Joy Goes to SXSW, Pt. II: SXSW on a Budget

Joy’s first dispatch from Austin is about having fun without spending all of your money.

You have probably just read the title of this piece and laughed out loud. You’re right: there are many ways to empty your checking account at South By Southwest. But with a little creativity, the experience doesn’t have to end with tears and debt. Here is my list of tips on how to attend this festival as inexpensively as possible.

1. Book in advance.
Don’t be that person who gets stuck sleeping on someone’s floor for $50 a night while cursing those who booked better accommodations ahead. Be the person who gets cursed at. One can find really reasonable prices on decent places to stay through AirBnB — I saw a renovated Airstream in a good location, basically a hotel room, offered for $35 a night. But you must do your searching and make your arrangements at least a month in advance, if not in January. Otherwise you will be S.O.L.

Better still, know someone who knows someone in town who will put you up for free. If you don’t know anyone in Austin, go there some time that is not SXSW and start making friends.

2. Make every meal a picnic.

As a general rule, grocery stores are always less expensive than restaurants. Basically every restaurant and food truck in Austin is awesome, but so are the grocery stores. Grab some low-priced gourmet baked goods, a hunk of cheese, and even a bottle of inexpensive wine; believe it or not, the original Whole Foods store on N. Lamar is a great place to get all three for under $20 (less than that if you’re thrifty and/or don’t mind $6 wine). Supplement with items of produce, et voila: a picnic meal that, depending on the number of people you’re feeding, may last all day. Just don’t try to take any liquids into a venue: I lost a can of V8 that way yesterday.

3. Public transportation is your friend.

Yes, shit does get real on the bus. Especially late at night, and often early in the afternoon if people were laid out cold from the late night before. However, a day pass is only $2, and you can’t beat that anywhere. Parking will cost you much more, and fuck taking a taxi: the streets will be closed where you want to go anyway. Pedi-cab if you must (support local bicyclists), but the best way to get around town is by waiting for a tolerably crowded bus and hoofing it the rest of the distance.

Make sure to remember your sunscreen and drink plenty of the free water offered at most venues.

4. Many shows are free.
If you’re in town to see smaller bands and don’t have a badge, you’re in luck: entry to most showcases will cost you nothing, especially during the day. While you may still end up waiting in line with people you can barely tolerate, the fortunate showgoer won’t even have to cut through that bullshit — time your entrance just right and you’ll simply show your ID, chat with the doorpeople, and get a fashionable hand stamp.

You’re in! Until you’re out. Venues generally have flexible reentry policies, but it’s a smart plan to check and be safe.

5. Fortune favors the bold.
At SXSW, the rules of social conduct are generally loosened and all kinds of behavior is tolerated. I will never recommend going the total-asshole, burned-bridges route, for reasons of basic human decency, but I am saying — don’t be shy about getting your free swag. All around SXSW, promotion companies give away stuff to those who ask. Drink coozies, t-shirts, tote bags, ear plugs, if you need it somewhere will have it.

For the more wily among us, a whole other garden of delights will open up. Gig posters abound and will be put back up if you take one down. Don’t want to pay $6 for a tiny little drink? Keep your eyes open: someone may have left a perfectly good one just sitting around.

Hey! Free drink!

[ed note: And free lord-knows-what-else, too! Stick to the free water!]

Exercise caution, of course, but these are only some examples. Go wild, be free, my friends, and have a safely thrifty SXSW.


6. Loyalty programs = Free stuff.

We’re all chasing that paper, and local businesses are no exception. As such, many locations in Austin show their appreciation for repeat business by hooking their customers up. If you don’t want to carry a hundred punch-cards, the Belly app keeps track of your visits electronically and allows you to redeem rewards after certain point tallies.

My personal favorite friendly R&R location, Halcyon Bar & Cafe at 4th and Lavaca, offers increasingly worthwhile free refreshments for their ascending loyalty tiers. If you stop in for your daily break every afternoon, you’ll have at least a free coffee to your name by the end of the week.

Neither Belly nor Halcyon has paid Paleotrees nor NTSIB for this endorsement. Joy just wants to bring business to a good location, and for people to get their money’s worth out of SXSW at the same time.

On a related note, just stay away from the vintage stores and vendor stalls unless you do have a budget cushion. Those places are great for people-watching, but put out all their best stuff this time of year.



These wares c/o Brookes General


Guest Post: Joy Goes To SXSW, pt. 1

While I cannot be in Austin this year, NTSIB friend Joy is, and she has graciously agreed to be a roving reporter. Below is her first dispatch. If you want to follow her adventures live, you may do so on Twitter and Instagram.

This year, I am pleased to be NTSIB’s correspondent-at-large in Austin. It’s my first South By Southwest, and I have thrown myself directly into the deep end. Swim along with me here on the blog, with live updates on Twitter!

Since SXSW can be an impenetrably overwhelming mess of day parties, showcases, special sessions, and free shows, I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff according to my own personal preferences. In reverse order, here are my most-anticipated acts of 2014.

7. Deap Vally

They’re loud. They’re crass. They’re women. And they crochet. This Los Angeles duo has found success in the UK and is on the verge of making it big in America. NTSIB friend Geordie McElroy describes them as “two-thirds of a girl gang” who should be “basically every teen girl’s role models”, and I am inclined to agree. Enjoy a sample of their balls-to-the-wall sound with “Hobo Playa”, off their single End of the World.

Deap Vally-Hobo Playa

Deap Vally plays South By Southwest:

Mar 14, 11pm @ Old School at Trinity Hall

6. Wye Oak

If you have ever listened to this Baltimore duo’s music and thought, “Where is the driving bass line?”, they seem to have read your mind. Their upcoming release, Shriek (out 4/29), will see guitarist Jenn Wazner switching exclusively to electric bass and the band’s music shifting accordingly. Until we hear the results, let’s tide ourselves over on the standout track of their 2011 release, Civilian.

Wye Oak plays South By Southwest:

Mar 12, 4pm @ Hype Hotel
Mar 13, 10am @ Four Seasons
Mar 13, 11:45pm @ The Parish
Mar 14, 12pm @ Mellow Johnny’s
Mar 14, 4pm @ The Blackheart
Mar 15, TBA @ Red 7

5. mr. Gnome

Another duo, this time from Cleveland, mr. Gnome has long been a NTSIB favorite. Their music, at times a frantic rush of paranoia while at others a sweet hymn to the void, should be heard rather than described. They are also hard at work at a still-secretive fourth album, due later this year. As a retrospective, here is a live session featuring songs from their previous releases.

Through the Turnstyle - mr. Gnome

mr. Gnome will play South By Southwest:

Mar 10, 7pm @ Clive Bar [FREE SHOW]
Mar 12, 3pm @ Cheer Up Charlie’s [FREE SHOW]
Mar 12, 11:30pm @ Javelina’s
Mar 13, 7pm @ Rowdy Saloon
Mar 14, 5:45pm @ The Tiniest Bar in Texas

4. Jessica Lea Mayfield

Jessica Lea Mayfield, the darling of Kent, Ohio (as well as an act NTSIB has been following since her first release), is preparing to drop her fourth record: Make My Head Sing … (4/15). Over the course of her career, this young guitarist’s tone has shifted from gorgeous minimalist folk to country-influenced dance pop to grunge-inspired noise rock. A sincere, down-to-earth performer, she says she calls her dog on the phone every day of tour — just to chat. Here she is performing “Our Hearts Are Wrong”, from 2011’s Tell Me.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Our Hearts Are Wrong - David Letterman

Jessica Lea Mayfield plays South By Southwest:

Mar 12, 2:50pm @ Weather Up Bar
Mar 12, 5pm @ Cheer Up Charlie’s [FREE SHOW]
Mar 13, 12am @ Lambert’s

3. Kan Wakan

If you follow any of my social media presences, you have probably noticed that I am quickly becoming a Kan Wakan superfan. This up-and-coming Los Angeles band creates lush music that is like fancy dessert for the ears. Kristianne Bautista’s voice is incredibly, effortlessly deep and rich; her backing band provides intricately orchestrated but not overpowering accompaniment. Watch them play “Forever Found”, off their EP of the same name, and wait for their first full-length to arrive this spring.

Kan Wakan plays South By Southwest:

Mar 12, 1:55pm @ Red 7
Mar 12, 5:40pm @ Palm Park
Mar 13, 12:30pm @ Palm Door on 6th
Mar 13, 11pm @ Lambert’s
Mar 15, 10am @ Brazos Hall
Mar 15, 2:30pm @ Cedar St Courtyard

2. The Felice Brothers

Paleotrees wouldn’t be Paleotrees — and wouldn’t have met NTSIB — without these guys. This famously raucous five-piece ensemble from Upstate New York has undergone several lineup changes and numerous shifts in musical direction over their career, but they have never lost their freewheeling charm. They do what they want, and we just come along for the ride. Here they play a song off their compilation God Bless You, Amigo.

The Felice Brothers - Dream On (Live @Pickathon 2013)

The Felice Brothers play South By Southwest:

Mar 11, 9:45pm @ Cedar St Courtyard
Mar 13, 12:30pm @ Weather Up
Mar 13, 10:50pm @ Mohawk
Mar 14, 4pm @ The Gatsby

They will also participate in Willie Nelson’s Heartbreaker Banquet, during but apart from SXSW, on March 13 at Willie’s private ranch. (Set time: 3:30PM)

1. Doe Paoro

Doe Paoro, from Brooklyn, is a force to behold. The woman has a compelling, engaging stage presence and a positively terrific voice. Justin Vernon apparently agrees with me about her latent star power, since he sings on her upcoming release Ink On The Walls. Recorded this winter in Vernon’s studio and produced by S.Carey, the album will drop this April; “Walking Backwards”, below, is its lead single .

Doe Paoro - Walking Backwards (Official Audio)

Doe Paoro plays South By Southwest:

Mar 12, 8:30pm @ Banger’s
Mar 12, 10:15pm @ Holy Mountain
Mar 13, 2pm @ Do512 Lounge

… and I am honored to be part of her crew for some if not all of these shows.

So, Austin: stop by when you can, and I hope to see you there!

– Joy @ Paleotrees

[A version of this list also appears on]