The Best Bands NOT Playing SXSW (FUCK SLIDESHOWS #HASHTAG)

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In theory, SXSW is awesome: several days of bands, free beer, and warm sunshine at the tail end of winter. However, like all good things it’s been ruined by corporate sponsorships, record labels, and overzealous competition. If you work in the music industry, you’ve spent the last two months being asked if you’re going to the festival, and it makes you feel terrible either way. If you say yes, you’re slowly waving any free time and enjoyment goodbye to take unnecessary meetings, and if you say no you’re admitting that your company was too cheap to buy you a plane ticket and hotel room. Meanwhile, casual attendees wait 3 hours in line to get a Fader Fort wristband and two drinks before discovering they can’t get into any “free” shows after sundown.

Well, we (me) here at the ol’ Kid Pretentious HQ say fuck this. Fuck the slideshows, fuck the unrelenting coverage, burn it to the ground. We were, for once, in a position to not even have to worry about whether to go, and we’re going to get drunk and watch college basketball instead. In fact, we might see a few of these great acts smart enough to avoid SXSW, and maybe you will too if you happen to live in London or some random Canadian city. These are bands to know even if they won’t be in Austin playing the 1-800-Flowers BBQ Party Jam at the Mohawk or whatever.

1. Jagwar Ma

In a time when every recommendation for SXSW is actually a band building up buzz for months (years, even) online, it’s kind of funny that Jagwar Ma are avoiding SXSW altogether. “The Throw” is already a song of the year candidate, and while we can’t wait to see these Aussies on stage, we can wait for a more desirable setting.

2. Boytoy

This stupidly named Australian band are going places, but Austin isn’t one of them (yet). Though they seem to be picking up band-of-the-moment steam, they’re mercifully playing a few shows on the East Coast this month and nothing more.

3. Odonis Odonis

These Canadian post-punks have been around for a minute (and been to SXSW before), but based on the new jam above, I’m sure at least a few folks are disappointed they can’t add this band to their pageview bait slideshow.

4. Blaenavon

These British kids are like 12 years old and sound like Foals, so they seem like the kind of band SPIN would put on some bullshitty ROCK IS BACK cover issue, but they’re mercifully staying across the band and doing their homework, probably.

5. Kyle Hall

SXSW has never particularly been a great place to see electronic music, which is probably due to circumstance: after starting to see bands and drink at noon, barely anyone has the stamina to dance til 4AM to good tunes, which is all I really want to do. I first saw Kyle Hall when the kid was just shy of 18 in 2009, and I’m stoked to see him finally put out a debut album of house jams soon, the hilariously titled The Boat Party.

6. Rozwell Kid

Occasionally, we need to indulge in nostalgic rock, but it needs to be perfectly executed. Enter Rozwell Kid, who sounds like vintage Weezer and Ozma and no one knows enough about him to offer some terrible AirBnB travel to get him to sucks by suckswest.

7. Nude Beach

Nude Beach are built for festivals like SXSW and CMJ, seemingly capable of playing 8 shows a day here in New York, but they’re thankfully taking a breather and avoiding Austin this year, if you consider playing several shows a week here in the city a breather.

8. Javeon McCarthy

It’s possible he simply goes by “Javeon” now, but either way this is a name to remember. Signed to the next-level-cool PMR Reocrds (an early home of Jessie Ware and Julio Bashmore), his list of collaborators is like a rolodex of what’s hot in the UK. His output may be slow, but fingers crossed that he’s avoiding SXSW to put together a debut album.

9. Sampha


Speaking of Jessie Ware’s friends, Sampha continues to be on fire. Though he played an earlier Boiler Room set only a couple years ago at SXSW, he’s blown up in a big way since, collaborating with SBTRKT multiple times as well the aforementioned Jessie Ware. Though he’s been spotted with his Koreless collaboration, Short Stories, we’re really hoping this is the year he puts together an album of cuts like the one above, and then gets too famous to SXSW to play it ever again. Like that I avoided the usual number of 10? Take your hashtags and shove it!

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