Globally renowned music and film festival South By Southwest is back for another year, with the music showcases kicking off on Tuesday 11 March and running until Sunday 16 March. To make things easy for fans of the extreme ZT decided to do a little exploring and compile a handy guide for anyone planning to attend (or feel annoyed at what they’ll be missing).
Taking place in Austin, Texas the festival is well known for featuring emerging talent from the world of music with thousands of musicians, fans and industry types in attendance. However, it’s normally seen as a platform for the next brand of bland indie-folk bands that causes NME writers/fans to wet themselves. Looking down the extensive list of music showcases a wide variety of acts are on offer (the majority falling under hip-hop/rap and ‘rock’) but sure enough, before we’ve even got to the letter ‘B’, the first metal band crops up; tech-metallers After The Burial (appearing at Metal Sucks’ showcase on Friday 14 March at The Dirty Dog).
While ZT may not have a showcase yet (hint, hint future investors), there are a few others from the more sonically extreme end that do. One of those is renowned metal label Relapse Records who have their showcase on Wednesday 12 March, again at The Dirty Dog. They’ve been at SXSW twice before in the last five years and have ten bands from their roster appearing numerous times over the week.
Speaking to ZT about SXSW, Relapse Record’s Director of Promotions/Marketing, Bob Lugowe says: “SXSW is a great launching pad for new and emerging artists and a chance for them to be seen by many of the world’s most important journalists, booking agents, retailers, licensors, influencers, etc. It is the perfect platform to create opportunities for our bands and showcase the strength and diversity of our roster. Plus it’s the perfect excuse to throw a huge party with all of our bands and friends in attendance and celebrate being able to do what we love, which is being a part of the extreme music world.”
As one of the few metal labels to have a showcase at SXSW, does it not feel as though the vast genre of heavy metal is underrepresented over the five days?
“I think it’s been growing a lot each year, albeit with a larger quantity of up and coming acts instead of huge names like Metallica performing,” Bob continues. “We have bands like Nothing and Windhand on the same bill as Tyler the Creator, Fucked Up and Roky Erickson this year in addition to the countless amount of metal themed official and unofficial shows. There are at least three or four metal bills every day so fans of the genre can stay occupied the entire time while newcomers or people who are curious about metal can discover some bands on a more diverse non-metal bill. We also have Black Tusk playing on a boat which just plain rules.”
One of the joys of SXSW is that quite a few bands stick around for the whole week, often playing more than once, which means if you miss them one day you’ve got time to prepare to catch them another. Or, if you’re really lucky, see them twice! It usually won’t be the same venue either, and with the mild weather a lot of showcases are outside in all sorts of locations. For example, psychedelic-sludge mongers Kylesa will be doing a midnight showcase outside The Mohawk on Tuesday then playing in the ‘heavy metal parking lot’ (an actual car park) at The Lost Well the next day. And if there’s one thing that can improve a parking lot, it’s riff-heavy sludge.
Other selected highlights for fans of the extreme include the Blakkr Imperial Black Ale Release Party, which features musical accompaniment from local Texan bands such as black metal merchants Krigsgrav, thrashers Widoer and Lions Of Tsavo on Saturday 15 March at The ABGB. Party Forever at Wonderland on Thursday 13 March has Ancient VVisdom’s only appearance, alongside Pilgrim and King Parrot, while rounding off the week on Sunday 16 March at The Dirty Dog is a free showcase of more local metal talent including thrashers Fear Control, Headcrusher and Legion.
Anyway, here’s ZT’s concise guide of what’s worth checking out for those lucky enough to be attending SXSW (and just in case anyone’s wondering when 50 Cent’s making his ‘comeback’, it’s at 1100 Warehouse on Tuesday, but that’s likely to clash with Indian at The Mohawk. A real head-scratcher).
Tuesday 11 March
Pitchfork Show No Mercy at House of Vans at The Mohawk, 7pm.
Bands include: Indian, Kylesa, Windhand, Power Trip, Iron Reagan, Christian Mistress, Primitive Man, Gnaw and more.
Wednesday 12 March
American Icon Heavy Metal Parking Lot at The Lost Well, 12pm.
Bands include: Spirit Caravan, Kylesa, The Shrine and more.
Relapse Records Showcase at Dirty Dog Bar, 7pm.
Bands include: Windhand, Obliteration, Nothing, Pyyrhon, Christian Mistress and Nothing.
Stereofly at Javelina Bar, 10am (free!).
Bands include: Abacus, Primitve Man, Yautja, Dethrone and more.
Thursday 13 March
Party Forever at Wonderland, 12pm (free!).
Bands include: Ancient VVisdom, Pilgrim, Rivers Of Nihil, King Parrot and more.
Converse x Thrasher Death Match at The Scoot Inn, 12pm.
Bands include: Windhand, Nothing, Destruction Unit and Fucked Up.
Metal Injection at The Dirty Dog, 7pm.
Bands include: The Ocean, Scale The Summit, Rivers Of Nihil, The Atlas Moth and more.
Invisible Oranges at Quantum Lounge, 7pm.
Bands include: Mutoid Man, Black Tusk, Kayo Dot and more.
Friday 14 March
Converse x Thrasher Death Match at The Scoot Inn, 12pm.
Bands include: Kylesa, Bl’ast, Power Trip, Iron Reagan, Obliteration and more.
MetalSucks Presents: South By South Death 2014 at The Dirty Dog, 7pm.
Bands include: Ringworm, After The Burial, Iron Reagan and more.
Saturday 15 March
Blakkr Imperial Black Ale Release Party at The ABGB, 12pm (free!).
Bands include: Krigsgrav, Lions Of Tsavo, Widower and more.
Tone Deaf Touring at Red Eyed Fly, 7pm.
Bands include: Spirit Caravan, Iron Reagan, Pilgrim, King Parrot and more.
Sunday 16 March
Austin Metal Showcase 2014 at The Dirty Dog, 1pm (free for over 21s).
Bands include: Fear Control, Head Crusher, Legion and more.