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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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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