Many people view South By Southwest (SXSW) as a place where the music industry celebrates itself, with their exclusive events and conferences filled with record company executives and magazine bigwigs. While the big night time showcases are almost impossible to get into without dropping $130 for a wristband or $750 for a music badge the week of the festival, there are plenty of day parties that are open to the public and, more importantly, are free of charge.  Here is a profile of several of the showcases worth checking out:

Wednesday: March 17

Terrorbird Media/ Force Field PR Day Party; Red 7: If you are going to attend one day party on Wednesday, make it this one. The lineup is full of relatively young, talented acts, and displays a great amount of diversity. There’s the chillwave of Toro y Moi and Austin’s own Neon Indian, who’s electronic soundscapes create an almost otherworldly atmosphere.  Real Estate brings a beach tinged indie rock sound, A Sunny Day In Glasgow posses a more dense art-rock vibe, and the Rural Alberta Advantage are a Canadian folk band in the vein of Neutral Milk Hotel. Expect to find at least one band you will fall in love with out of the sixteen on the bill. Noon-6PM

Thursday: March 18

Other Music Day Show; The French Legation Museum: Set on the beautiful grounds of the historic French Legation, this day show will have a great environment in which to catch another great lineup. Headlining are London minimalists The xx, who made one of the best albums of 2009 with their self-titled debut, filled with downright seductive songs about love and longing. Equally as impressive, but in a different way, is Brooklyn group The Antlers. The band released “Hospice” last year, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful concept album about death written while frontman Peter Silberman was in a self-induced isolation, and it finished at the top of many critic’s year end lists for good reason. Also performing are blues-rock outfit Califone and Holly Miranda, who has played opening slots on Tegan & Sara’s latest tour. Get there early. Parking in East Austin can be brutal. 1PM-7PM

Friday: March 19

Village Voice’s 2010 SXSW Party; La Zona Rosa: Although there are only four bands playing at this showcase, this day party is arguably one of the best offerings this year. The main headliner for this party is North Carolina indie pioneers Superchunk. Along with Pavement, Archers of Loaf, and Sebadoh, they conquered the college radio airwaves in the early 90’s, and set the stage for countless of other bands. One of these groups that follow in the footsteps of that era’s guitar rock is Surfer Blood, who released their debut, “Astro Coast,” at the beginning of this year. It is an album filled with hooks and a sense of tightness that most bands don”t have until late in their careers. Brooklyn’s The Pains of Being Pure At Heart root their musical identity in late 80’s twee and lo-fi, and their self-titled debut is filled with songs that exemplify why paying homage to those before you can make for great music if done right. Rounding out the lineup are the aforementioned group The xx. Noon-5PM

Saturday: March 20

SXSW 2010 Auditorium Shores Concert Series; Auditorium Shores: There are several reasons why I would recommend this day showcase to anyone with an affinity for pop culture over the last five years. For starters, there is the obvious elephant in the room, She & Him. The musical collaboration between actress Zooey Deschanel and folk artist M. Ward has become somewhat of a sensation, thanks in no part to Deschanel’s role in “500 Days of Summer” and her her marriage to Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. However, the two have one album of pleasant folk tunes under their belt, with their sophomore release slated for release March 23. Another recognizable figure for those of this generation is Kimya Dawson, who contributed several songs to the 2008 indie smash hit “Juno,” both as a solo artist and with former band The Moldy Peaches. Ellen Page, however, will not be on stage. Also playing are Deer Tick, Dawes, and Justin Townes Earle.

(Photo: The Antlers; Image Credit: woxy.com)

Advertisements