Some of the best acts of past South By Southwest festivals weren’t the big names; they were the local bands who were just happy to perform. Check out some of the best musicians Austin has to offer at this year’s event.
Once an underground sensation, Spoon became one of rock’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful acts. Its blend of punk and classic rock makes its performances enigmatic and memorable. You might know the band from its 2005 classic Gimme Fiction or its most recent release, They Want My Soul. Spoon performs Thursday at Auditorium Shores.
Musical prodigy turned one-man band Max Frost is a local singer-songwriter who has led Austin’s pop scene. At the age of 10, Frost learned to play guitar, and, by 20, he was writing music that incorporated funk, soul and R&B. He dropped out of UT to pursue his music career full time, and his gamble paid off. He performs at Stubb’s on Thursday.
Post-punk band Institute aims for a rough sound, hitting the bull’s eye on its EP, Salt. Formed just two years ago, the band gives its all in every performance. Institute performs Thursday at Hotel Vegas.
Quiet Company has quietly come to dominate the Austin indie pop scene. Lead singer Taylor Muse may have lost his faith in God, but he still works miracles in his songwriting. The group’s emotional, melodic songs reel the listener in. The band performs at Red Eyed Fly on Thursday.
Jon Dee Graham
Named SXSW’s musician of the year in 2006, Jon Dee Graham is returning. Since 1986, he has worked with the best Austin musicians. Graham dropped out of law school at UT to join The Skunks, a local punk band. It opened for The Clash and The Ramones. Graham is most widely known for his time with the True Believers, an Americana rock band from Austin. He performs March 21 at the Continental Club.
With a banjo, fiddle, bass and guitar in hand, the members of Whiskey Shivers resemble a group from the early 1900s. Their bluegrass sound evokes a spirit of joy in listeners. They perform next Friday at the Palm Door on Sabine.
Jamestown Revival appears as though it just came straight from a retreat in the mountains. That’s exactly what the group did to record Utah. Its indie rock sound with a southern twang was practically made for the festival. The band perform at The Gatsby on March 20.
Ume is a hard rock band known for its relentless touring and explosive performances. The band’s self-taught guitarist, Lauren Larson, rocks like no other; her skills are almost unrivaled. Ume perform at Red 7 on Thursday.
Ben Kweller’s legacy is in his performances at the Austin City Limits music festival — specifically the one in 2006 when he suffered a severe nosebleed. He used a tampon thrown on stage by a fan to stop the bleeding. After bleeding profusely on his own piano, he cut the set short. If you don’t want to go see him perform now, I don’t know what will convince you. He performs March 21, but the location has yet to be announced.
Jess Williamson managed to do something very few artists can — create an unhurried record that lasts only 30 minutes. The simple, sparse instrumentation and her emotional vocals make Native State a calming listen. She performs at Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside on Tuesday.