SXSW 2011: Five Bands, Five Reasons Why & the Annual Aussie BBQ

Drowning in a sea of information and not sure who to see at 2011’s South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) in Austin, TX? Here’s the inside scoop from Billabout Swagman and all-around indie music insider Katrina Symonds. Also, check out the lineup for the annual Aussie BBQ presented by Stage Mothers and Sounds Australia on Saturday (3/19), featuring tons of great up-and-coming bands.

Andy Clockwise – The Aussie Import Veterans, aka The Guys who are Doin’ It for Themselves.

I am totally behind the Andy Clockwise crew because they work the L.A. music scene hard and, as a live band, do not disappoint. For no other reason than that, Andy Clockwise (nee Andy Kelly) and his band mates will be a great show to catch at SXSW. There is no hype or media frenzy surrounding these guys, so you can expect a straight-up, passionate fiasco onstage. With the strongest pipes around, Clockwise’s voice is a mix of Bono in ballads and the National’s Matt Berninger (in his more mellow moments.)  I’d love to see this band picked up by an indie label like Fat Possum in the U.S. With some fine tuning and direction, they could be around for a while. Slow burners, baby. Very passionate, slow burners…

Check out Andy Clockwise at the band’s official MySpace page.

Also check out: Andy Clockwise’s latest set, the 2010 “Socialite,” featuring country pop’s new darling, Lissie (Elisabeth Maurus), and their amazing cover of Bjork’s “Hyperballad.”

3/16/11: Annie’s West – 3:30 p.m.
3/18/11: Backspin Records – 2 p.m.
3/18/11: The Ale House – 9:30 p.m.
3/19/11: Maggie Mae’s – 4:30 p.m.

Boy and Bear: The Ones to Watch, or When Timing and Talent Come Together.

Boy and Bear are killing it, and the timing couldn’t be better for them in America. At the recent Grammy Awards, Mumford and Sons, Lady Antebellum and Arcade Fire came out on top, and this is some pretty good news if you’re in a band like Boy and Bear because it means America is ready for you. It’s always tricky navigating the radio scene in America, since only a small handful of bands get added to the rotation every week, and of this maybe two percent are new artists. But Mumford and Sons broke through last year, which opened the gates for bands like Boy and Bear to get some love.  Sound-wise, Boy and Bear have been doing their thing for a while, but what has become ‘their’ sound — driving, melodic folk with choral harmonies — is totally relevant to right now in America. These guys are going places. They are impeccable live, and they don’t rely upon anything but their voices and instruments. Meaning, no background fuss. Meaning, they’re legit. If I could only hit one show at SXSW, this would be it for me. I really hope they secure supporting spots with some great U.S. tours this year.

Check out some live footage of the standout track, “Blood to Gold,” off 2010’s EP, “With Emperor Antarctica” (101 Distribution).

3/16/11: C3 Party @ Lambert’s – 3:20 p.m.
3/17/11: Klub Krucial Klub Krucial’s Communion Showcase – Midnight
3/18/11: Billboard Official Showcase @ Buffalo Billiards – 7:30 p.m.
3/19/11: Aussie BBQ @ Maggie Mae’s Rooftop – 12:35 p.m.
3/19/11: Neon Gold/Chess Club/Communion Party @ Music Gym’s  Inside Stage – 6:30 p.m.

Beni: Not your average D.J.

Beni: The Man of Mystery a.k.a. Most Likely to DJ Every U.S. Festival in 2012

Beni (Bennie Single) truly is a man of mystery to me — yet I am intrigued. This guy seems to be Modular’s latest top priority, and with an almost impeccable track record of bands hitting a focal point within a certain niche of the U.S. market (Cut Copy, The Presets et al),  it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve got planned for this half of Riot in Belgium, the outfit he’s got going with Joel Dickson, aka DJ Belgium. Beni’s manager tells me the debut features Kim from Presets, Nicky from Van She, Hercules & Love Affair, Mattie Safer (ex-Rapture), Prince, Terrence from Spank Rock, Mickey, Mercury, Etienne de Crecy, Sam Sparro and more. Beni’s slated to do a live DJ set for SXSW, but there are whispers that some of the guest artists from his debut will appear – in which case, it could be a really exciting show to be at. But either way, it’s sure to be a great show to dance your ass off at and it’s also a safe bet that you’ll probably sweat.

Modular is offering a free download of Beni’s first single, “Yeah (Mickey Remix).” Grab that right here.

3/17/11, IHEARTCOMIX SXSW Party @ Beauty Bar – 11 p.m.

Miami Horror
: The Future Producers of Good Pop, aka The Electro Aficionados

Music-wise, Miami Horror represents a lot about where Australia sits on a global scale right now. Miami Horror identifies as an electro-pop group that performs live with a four-piece band. Electro-pop is old news in Australia, but on the global scene it’s fresh-off-the-boat type shit, with bands like Empire of The Sun and their sold-out shows leading the mainstream charge in the U.S.

Miami Horror takes a leaf from this Australian story, but with a more electro-instrumental driven orientation giving their sound even more niche. This band’s music has the ability to create waves, and their single, “Echoplex,” off 2010’s “Illumination,” is reminiscent of Groove Armada’s global hit, ‘My Friend.”  I’m hoping their sound translates live as well as that of Groove Armada, in fact. It’s always tricky when it comes to the live part for acts like this. I think Miami Horror’s biggest shtick is their production skill in working with pop artists. In particular, I recently heard a bootleg of their music mixed with Mike Posner’s vocals … awesome!  Hopefully, they’ll garner some more success on this front. If the right A&R person catches them and pairs them with their latest pop signing, the results could be exciting. These guys tour America quite consistently, so hopefully things will start happening soon.

Check out their video for “Echoplex,” directed by super talented Aussie Cara Stricker.

3/17/11:  IHEARTCOMIX SXSW showcase @ Beauty Bar – 11 p.m.
3/18/11: Frontgate Ticketing Day Morning After Party – 1 p.m.
3/18/11: Windish Agency showcase @ 501 Studios – Midnight

Little Red: The Blog Darlings, a.k.a. Most Likely to be Written About

Little Red will be playing some influential shows at SXSW. The band first created some buzz for themselves with the release of 2009’s “Coca Cola,” and snagged a bit of recognition from then-up-and-coming blog/label Neon Gold. Fast forward to 2011, and rumour has it Neon Gold has just signed on as an imprint label for Columbia, and is quickly being dubbed pop’s latest tastemaker.

Neon Gold also will be hosting a showcase at SXSW where Little Red will be playing. What does this mean? A lot of willing ears (powerful exec types included) anticipating big things from all involved with the Neon Gold showcase, so things should be very interesting. The band’s latest album used the skills of producer Scott Horscroft, who has worked on other bands who have hit successful moments in America, such as Temper Trap, Silverchair and The Presets. I’m not sure what will happen with this band in America over the next 12 months, but one thing’s for sure: they will be getting some blog loving – if just for the Neon Gold connection alone.

You can check out some of Little Red’s videos here.

3/16/11: Neon Gold Official Showcase @ Bat Bar – 8 p.m.
3/18/11: Paper Garden Records’ Unofficial Party @ Uncorked – 3 p.m.
3/18/11: Sonicbid’s Party @ Maggie Mae’s – 4:40 p.m.
3/19/11: Aussie BBQ @ Maggie Mae’s (Rooftop) – 2:55 p.m.

The Aussie BBQ - The Ultimate SXSW Party

The Aussie BBQ: The One Showcase You Don’t Want to Miss

The Aussie BBQ artist showcase has been running for nearly a decade. In a way, the Aussie BBQ is nothing short of an institution and right of passage for Australian artists making their way on American soil. In the past, it has laid the foundations for bands that ended up killing it in America, such as The Temper Trap and Wolfmother. A really exciting show to be at, this year they have over  thirty bands playing. Bands creating buzz in and around Australia and America that you should be sure be to check are the Jezabels and Washington. This year, the Aussie BBQ will be touring – so if you can’t get to SXSW, it will also be showcasing in L.A.

AUSSIE BBQ SXSW:  3/19/11 – Maggie Mae’s – Noon
AUSSIE BBQ L.A:  3/26/11 – The Echo –  12:30 p.m.

Other Notable Mentions:

Bliss N Esso – for being brave enough to do Aussie Hip Hop and actually sound great whilst doing it.

Cloud Control – their sound is great and current, same category as Boy and Bear – these guys could hit some pretty high notes stateside this year.

Sherlock’s Daughter- NYC-based primarily, Sherlock’s Daughter’s frontwoman Tanya Horo’s voice is haunting and well worth a listen.

Operator Please – been a while since their debut release, but great things are promised. They have a catchy, indie pop sound.

— Katrina Symonds, indie music insider and Billabout Swagman

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