This article is part of the SXSW Guide / Anti-Guide series.
Every March, thousands of bands play at South by Southwest in Austin, and for the past twelve years, I've listened to hundreds of them in preparation. It used to be that I'd do so to make sure I didn't miss my only chance to see some great international act. I haven't gone for a few years, though, so now it's just a convenient way to force myself to listen to lots of new music at once. I even clicked my way through the 2011 schedule, but I didn't share the recommendations with anyone, because that's what kind of dickhead I was last year. Now I'm making up for it with a more thorough version of 2010's Guide/Anti-Guide; not only am I covering three nights instead of one, but also I've enlisted two incredibly knowledgeable cohorts from the SA Forums to share their own picks. However, the format's similar enough that I'll reuse the "A few questions before we start" intro, with a few minor changes:
Q: I'm not even going to South by Southwest, why should I read this?
A: I'm not going either, but when going through the SXSW roster I noticed that a lot of bands i really like but will never have a chance to write about are playing, and I also found some awesome stuff I'd never heard of, much less heard. With Spotify, it's easier than ever to catch up with these unfamiliar artists. Last time I had to use MySpace, like a jerk.
Q: I've already heard of every artist you listed, "good" and "bad," you behind-the-times idiot.
Q: Dude, you forgot to mention Asher Roth.
A: Shut up.
I'll let the other writers go first, because I found so many cool things that my section's going to take a while. Let's start with WET BUTT. wetb utt is a retarded 20 year old in new york city and his tumblr site is http://tlgrmsiam.tumblr.com.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15 9:00PM - 9:40PM
Oh yeah so the Prince Rama sisters just kicked the guy out of the band so it's just them and they put on a really good show together out of their latest album which is like a Sun City Tubeway Army Girls or something and sometimes they have an indian dancer and sometimes they will yell "trust" and jump into the crowd. You don't Ramayana miss this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH
R. Stevie Moore
THE WHISKEY ROOM
FRIDAY, MARCH 16 12:00AM -12:40AM
You shouldn't miss R. Stevie Moore because he made his middle name his first name using masculine tricks of magic. Also because he's been making great weird idiosyncratic psychedelic music in like a well his entire life for 30 years and enough people donated money for him to go on this tour so it might not happen again! He has a band with him too so you won't get lonely. You'll be asking for "Moore" hahaha. Hahahahahahaha ahh yeah this rules
SATURDAY, MARCH 17 11:00PM -11:40PM
Hey if you're looking at this Damo Suzuki looking guy's name and thinking "that guy sucks live he just hunches over by himself and there's a bunch of buttons" that was true but not anymore and you're mean. Mr Mustache California has his own label and a cleaner shirt now and he also has two guys with him playing on various cool things (sometimes there's a saxophone guy or like a mangey dude in a basketball jersey playing a weird table guitar) and it's all really tight and a lot better now. This is fitting for you because his new album is better too and he's been going into some serious faux dub AfroMud lately and he'll probably do that weird four on the floor song that we all like! You're so lucky I love you. I love you.
SATURDAY, MARCH 17 1:00 AM - 1:50 AM
The Carsick Cars have come from Beijing again to play and that's really rare for bands from there because China is illegal. You should see them they make a really good Sonic Youth-y sounding thing with bad English and cool psychedelic guitar texture and maybe if there's Chinese fans at the show they'll throw cigarettes at the band during "Zhong Nan Hai" because the Chinese are really cruel in addition to being illegal and small. I hope this show goes into Sunday morning because that's the kind of show I saw them at and they might cover "Sunday Morning" for you and you'll get to hear what it would've sounded like if the Velvet Underground were 3 cool little illegal Chinese people.
BEAUTY BAR BACKYARD
THURSDAY, MARCH 15 9:45PM -10:15PM
Ahaha don't go see this guy he sucks even though his name is cool. It's all just stupid revisionist 1980's cereal commercial cartoon music and there isn't even any damn voice on it which takes a lot of nerve when the instruments are so boring and bloopy and stupid. I bet he wears a dumbass helmet onstage and he stands there with all his stupid fuzzy wuzzy noisemakers and plays on Nintendo 3D secretly under the synths.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.
SA music writers point out cool bands to see at SXSW (or listen to at home, if you're not going). Also they warn about dumb bands you should avoid!