SXSW Music: 2009

There’s more musing to be done on SXSWi, so be on the lookout for this.

As in years past (2007, 2008), here’s a complete list of all the shows I saw last week, and the top 10 shows of the week. I had the pleasure of spending the week seeing bands I’ve wanted to see for a long time (hello, The Hold Steady and The Thermals) while also checking out new-to-me bands and artists. Some of which were fantastic, and some of which were just okay. With the exception of one weird show, everything was pretty darned good.

Note: I did lose some of the notes from Wed, so I’m missing a band or two.

Star means I’d suggest checking ’em out if you’ve got the chance.

Top 10 2009 SXSW Shows

  1. The Hold Steady
  2. The Thermals
  3. The Little Ones
  4. Drink Up Buttercup
  5. School of Seven Bells
  6. We Were Promised Jetpacks
  7. The Peekers
  8. The Emeralds
  9. +/- {Plus/Minus}
  10. Alessi’s Ark


Sad to say! I can’t remember the first band we saw :(

Drink Up Buttercup* at Beauty Bar

This band rocked it hard – playing garbage can lids, an energetic show on a Wednesday afternoon. Would highly recommend seeing them live if possible.

Maus Haus at Emo’s Annex (IODA Day Party)


Blind Pilot* at Emo’s Annex (IODA Day Party)

Nice band I had no knowledge of beforehand — enjoyed their mellow tunes and the combo of male & female vocals. Can’t stop listening to them now.

We Were Promised Jetpacks*  at Emo’s Annex (IODA Day Party)

These guys kicked ass and evidently blew the socks off quite a few people during the week.

Future Clouds and Radar at The Dog & Duck

Unfortunately, this set turned into a bit of background music as we were near the back. Enjoyable none-the-less.

Arms & Legs at Pangea

Arms & Legs had the distinction of being the only band we saw all week to play compressed air into a microphone. Not sure it added much, but was interesting. Mellow, but a bit disappointing to see two drummers playing click tracks and not creating the potential dynamic.

Other Lives at Buffalo Billiards

Super mellow, but disappointeing in the end. Left the show to go check out other stuff.

Vetiver* at Emo’s Jr.

Something I want to check out later, but wasn’t a rocking show.

The Black Jacks at Paradise Lounge

Angus & Julius Stone* at Buffalo Billiards

Walked into this show after the Black Jacks and was stoked by the loveliness of the music. Definitely want to check out this band some more.

School of Seven Bells* at Buffalo Billiards


Mother Mother at Habana Calle 6 Patio

Meh. Couldn’t get into the vocals, which were so distinctive they drove the music.


The Bones Royal at Peckerheads

Energetic, basic rock.

Great Lakes Myth Society at Red 7

Another show, like Other Lives, where I was disappointed. Evidently it picked up after we left, but didn’t inspire me to listen to them again.

The Hard Lessons* at Red 7 Patio

We walked outside after Great Lakes Myth Society and found ourselves totally rocking out to these guys.  Just what we needed. Plus, they did a Neil Young cover.

Trail of Dead at the Mohawk

Black and White Years* at Elysium

The Arkells* at Cedar Street Courtyard

Really want to listen to them some more.

Sam Roberts* at Cedar Street Courtyard

This Canadian brought his own crowd, but we really liked him too.

Two singer-songwriters whose names I didn’t catch at Dirty Bill’s (Yes, I wrote down EVERYTHING we heard.)

Sybris* at Prague

Caught the tail end of the set and wish we’d seen more.

+/-{Plus/Minus}* at Prague

A great way to end the second night of music. I’d been listening to their stuff non-stop before I hit Austin and it was great to see them live.


Friday we agreed to take it easy, and still managed to see 12 bands!

Obits* at Club de Ville for Insound’s 10th Anniversary SXSW Birthday Party Presented by Saucony Originals and Hot Freaks!

These guys were a great way to start the day.

Horse Feathers* at Club de Ville for Insound’s 10th Anniversary SXSW Birthday Party Presented by Saucony Originals and Hot Freaks!

Also, really enjoyable.

American Analog Set* at Club de Ville for Insound’s 10th Anniversary SXSW Birthday Party Presented by Saucony Originals and Hot Freaks!

I love this group. They are super chill and perhaps not best fit for an outdoor show offering $2 all you can drink beer. Still, I adore them and would love to see them again.

The Thermals* at Club de Ville for Insound’s 10th Anniversary SXSW Birthday Party Presented by Saucony Originals and Hot Freaks!

OMS! OMS! I have been DYING to see this group and they did not disappoint. I love them. Really, better live than recorded. The best type of show. Professional, polished in terms of performance, but still rock’n’roll.

The Hold Steady* at Club de Ville for Insound’s 10th Anniversary SXSW Birthday Party Presented by Saucony Originals and Hot Freaks!

You know, I don’t know why I haven’t been in love with this band forever. Being the end of a day show, they played almost 90 minutes, like seeing a full show. Blew away everything we’d seen (including the Thermals!), by executing tightly, and just fueling the end of the day. If you’re not a fan now, you need to go buy everything and go see a show!

Pete & the Pirates* at Cedar Street Courtyard for Blackberry Party

Radio friendly pop, these guys have the potential to be huge.

Beach House* at Cedar Street Courtyard for Blackberry Party

I love the sweet sound of Beach House, but after the rousing set by Pete & the Pirates, this was a little too mellow for my mood.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down* at MoMo’s

We walked in near the end and were immediately wanting to tap our toes and get grooving.

The Rosebuds* at MoMo’s

Love this band, but their live show, after all the preceeding ones in the day paled slightly. Still, worth checking out.

The Japanese Motors* at Emo’s

Enjoyed their sound but wasn’t willing to brave the crowd right away. Would have loved to have seen more of their live show.

Black Lips (featuring GZA) at Emo’s

I don’t even know where to begin with this. Basically, it seems that some members of the Black Lips ran into GZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame, smoked out, and decided to do a show together last minute. Not a good idea. I can’t dignify this with further commentary, but I will tell the story complete with hand signs, confusion and crowd responses if I see you in person.

King Khan & The Shrines* at Emo’s

They have a pom pom player. ‘Nuff said.


Diego’s Umbrella* at Yard Dog

How can a band that does a highly stylized violin version of the Final Countdown be bad?

Ponderosa Stomp featuring Roy Head & Barbara Lynn at Perdenales Lofts Pavilion for the Shiny Objects & Butler Bros BYOC Vol. 4

Fun all around.

The Emeralds* at Perdenales Lofts Pavilion for the Shiny Objects & Butler Bros BYOC Vol. 4

They were definitely on my list to be seen, if possible, having found them on a Japan Nite Sampler last year. Performing in leather on a warm Texas day, they wanted to get the crowd riled.

The Peekers* at Perdenales Lofts Pavilion for the Shiny Objects & Butler Bros BYOC Vol. 4

This band had a sound I’d been seeking all week – sweet female vocals, and a lovely pop sound.

Asteroid Galaxy Tour at Maggie Mae’s

The Little Ones* at Maggie Mae’s

I’d been dying to see this band, so got right up in front and watched them rock out. Fun fun fun.

Immaculate Machine* at Habana Calle 6

A good follow-up to the Little Ones. Not as frenetic.

Alessi’s Ark* at Stephen F

What a lovely and gorgeous end to the week. Turned on to her by one of my oldest friends, Sandy, and just loved her melodious voice and sweet stage presence.

Thanks also to the awesome folks I got to share my musical adventures with:  Cloudwrangler, Kmeelyon, Weegee, Chim Chim, Tornado Magnet, Sandy, and the RVIP Lounge!

3 thoughts on “SXSW Music: 2009

  1. The Hold Steady were my favorite too – different set though, Thursday at Red 7 (where I saw you earlier! surprised you left!). I already knew I really liked them though, kinda bittersweet when it’s not a new discovery.

    School of Seven Bells were actually our WORST. Dunno if you read about their Friday night set but it was a travesty. It’s nice to know they can deliver when things go well, but they need more experience playing out for when things do not.

    Many of your other faves, I still need to check out.

    Good times! Good to see you again!

  2. Frank! That’s crazy — I have to update one of my other perennial lists, which is the list of best shows and has a few of the worst. The Black Lips show definitely hits the latter.

    I’m not surprised about School of Seven Bells – can’t imagine the obverse.

    As for the Hold Steady, I’m glad we saw them when we did, since the set was way longer than a typical 30 minute SX set.

    It was also great to see you twice!

  3. Ooooh, so jealous you got to see so many good shows! It’s been so long since we’ve hit a show together… it’s a must do- soon!

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