IFC’s guide to the best music at this year’s SXSW festival


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By Chris Harris

The pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, has already begun for most of this year’s attendees and performers. Bands are in vans, playing shows here and there as they make their way to the fabled home of South By Southwest, which has earned a much deserved reputation as one of America’s most consistent music festivals.

Year after year, throngs of music fans descend on Austin to see the best that modern music has to offer. Scheduling one’s SXSW experience is perhaps the most daunting task facing those lucky enough to have secured festival badges.

With a lineup as solid as Southby’s, how does one chose between the gazillions of bands playing? We are here to help you wade through the 2,000-plus bands playing SXSW, so that you can kick back, relax, and stand in those serpentine lines because, at the end of the day, it’s worth it for the amazing weather, the free beer and the kick ass music.

Of course, there is no chance you could possibly miss Built To Spill, the beloved Boise, Idaho, indie rock collective who’ve been crafting catchy, pensive guitar rock for more than 20 years now. They’ll be playing the IFC Crossroads House at Vice Bar (302 E. 6th Street) on Wednesday, March 14. Catch them with Youth Lagoon and Le Fleur; the action starts at 5 p.m. with a two-hour “Free Beer Happy Hour,” hosted by DJ Matt Jones. Also playing our IFC venue will be headliner Citizen Cope on Friday, March 16 at midnight.

May we also suggest checking out post-punk laptop rapper MC Lars while in Austin? Embraced by the indie crowd as equally as the emo crop, Lars will be taking the mike at Malaia (300 E. 6th Street) on March 14 at 1:00 a.m.

This year’s SXSW will boast a ton of incredible metal bands, including California’s Early Graves, making their first appearance at the fest with new singer John Strachan. Catch them with All Pigs Must Die (featuring Converge drummer Ben Koller), Tiger Flowers, Meek Is Murder, and Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire at The Annex at 1808 (1808 E. 12th Street) on March 15; doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Exhilarating Chicago black metal outfit Nachtmystium will be playing not one, not two, but six shows during Southby, so you really have no excuse to miss them. They’ve booked two shows for March 14; we recommend seeing them with High on Fire at Barbarella Patio (611 Red River Street). If you miss them, they’re also playing March 15 at The Asylum, March 16 at the Longbranch Inn (with party animal Andrew W.K.), March 17 at Lovejoy’s (with Alcest), and March 18, also at Lovejoy’s (604 Neches Street).

If metal’s not your thing, perhaps Wallpaper might be more your speed. Wallpaper weaves genre-busting beats into brilliant, jaw-dropping party jams. The Bay Area MC will have the people bouncing March 14 at the PureVolume House (2nd and Trinity Street).

One of the highlights of this year’s SXSW is sure to be Fiona Apple’s much-anticipated set at the Central Presbyterian Church (200 E. 8th Street). The enchanting songstress is expected to debut material from what people are calling her own “Chinese Democracy”; Apple has been working on a new album for the last seven years, which is expected in stores before year’s end.

Brooklyn’s Bear In Heaven are one of this year’s pre-SXSW buzz bands. The band — which blends elements of southern psychedelic rock with electronic music — will deliver two tight sets during Southby, both at the Mohawk Patio (912 Red River Street): March 13 at 11:00 p.m. and March 15 at 10:30 p.m.

Belgian alternative pop band Balthazar may also be worth checking out, if you’re into infectious, groove-oriented rock with electro overtones. It’s not often they’re in the states, so it might be wise to see them at Tenoak (409 Colorado Street) on March 17 at 9:00 p.m.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend two mega-shows also happening at this year’s gathering in Austin. New dad and arguably one of the hottest MCs to ever spit a rhyme, Jay-Z, returns to SXSW for a second straight year.

Jay takes the stage at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater (310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.) at 7:00 p.m. on March 12; for those not attending the fest, the show will be live-streamed on YouTube and will be rebroadcast on-demand from March 13 to March 19.

Making his first appearance this year is Lionel Richie, a music legend no one should be ashamed to admit they love. Seriously. Mr. Richie plays the very same venue as Jay, only the very next night. But don’t go expecting to hear Lionel classics like “Three Times A Lady” and “Easy.” Richie will likely be showcasing songs from his new country album, “Tuskegee.”

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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