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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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