This article is part of the SXSW Guide / Anti-Guide series.
EASY TIGER PATIO
FRIDAY, MARCH 16 11:00PM -11:40PM
ST DAVID'S BETHELL HALL
SATURDAY MARCH 17 12:00AM -12:25AM
Other than the awesome name and the Mexico City hometown, Ximena Sariñana could be any pop singer on American radio, except better than most. She might be from a "different world," but it's all quite familiar -- she usually sings in English, her hooks are huge, she goes bowling in this video. Her songs would be great for parties, especially if you have the kind of friends who would notice a cool background tune and ask about it and be impressed at your find. That's a good kind of friend to have.
ANDREA BALENCY TRIO
BALLROOM G DAY STAGE AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER
THURSDAY MARCH 15 3:00PM -4:00PM
THURSDAY MARCH 15 11:00PM -11:40PM
Andrea Balency Trio also comes from Mexico City, but their singer grew up in Paris, and she sings in French sometimes, so you could even describe her as a "chanteuse" without seeming like a tremendous asshole! Anyway, what this means is you can cross off at least two squares on the "exotic sounds from many lands to hear instead of going to see Eve 6 at an international music festival" checklist by 4 p.m. on the first full-fledged day of SXSW! But it's probably better to wait until the nighttime slot, because this is chill stuff and it probably sounds best at the end of a long day of listening, at a venue with "Lounge" in its name.
THE ECHO FRIENDLY
SATURDAY, MARCH 17 8:00PM -8:40PM
Have I already written about any ex-couples from Brooklyn whose recordings reflect their unresolved tensions? Somehow I have not. Well, this one is as good as any. Jake Rabinbach and Shannon Esper shoot out the lights on their two available tracks, trading verses over simmering backdrops like the Kills at their calmest. Again, this is a Brooklyn band with a genuinely sexy sound: I'm not sure why no one's flipping their shit about them yet, but they won't escape SXSW unhyped, so ground-floor it up now!
CHEVROLET SOUND GARAGE
FRIDAY, MARCH 16 9:45PM -10:25PM
Here's another reliable-of-late micro-genre: Bay-area shoegaze with female vocals. Trying to find lasting melodies in the distortion is a fool's errand; if the psychedelic screen-saver effects in all Young Prisms' videos weren't a strong enough indicator, you're just supposed to zone out and absorb the atmosphere, man, which is much easier to do when they're fuzzing out live and you can just get swallowed up by the overwhelming volume waves.
DESEO CENTRO LOUNGE
THURSDAY, MARCH 15 11:00PM -11:40PM
Vanbot is a platinum blonde Swedish dance-pop singer, so maybe she'll attract the "why isn't this platinum blonde Swedish dance-pop singer more popular in America?!?" crowd that's had marginal success rallying around Robyn. Vanbot's beats are softer than Robyn's, as is her voice, and her lyrics aren't as saucy. So if the problem was people finding Robyn too intimidating, Vanbot should be more palatable. If it's just that people don't really care about super-catchy synthpop, then I don't know what the fuck.
FRIDAY, MARCH 16 1:00AM -1:50AM
By 1 a.m., after two full days of watching dozens of bands, it would take something pretty drastic to make the average concertgoer take notice. Judging by this video, Vampillia is probably pretty drastic. It's one thing to watch Japanese commercials and programs and movies and think "man, this is strange" from home, but when a band from Tenjinmachi is here in your face and screaming at you and making sounds that are confusing and overwhelming and -when they make sense- beautiful, that's something different, something real. There's a guy in here from the Boredoms , a band Americans ignored at 1 p.m. at that Beastie Boys Lollapalooza, but this is 1 a.m., and this stage show is going to wake you the fuck up.
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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!