The Spits, photo by Steven Michael Ruud
If you were to add all of the bajillion goddamn bands and divide that by the quadrillion fucking showcases/day parties/invite-only events/whatever, chances are it would equal one thing: a fuckload of chances to see buzz band X at SXSW. But just who the fuck were buzz band X at the 2015 version of the Austin festival? Especially considering that this year was designed to ratchet down the hype and branding to focus on the music? You probably read some of our recaps of highlights from the fest (catch up here) but if not, here is a list of Noisey's highlights from the festival.
Sheer Mag were positively everywhere at SXSW. I guess that explains how I ended up seeing them three times despite never purposely attempting to see them (I vowed to see only bands I had never seen, or hadn't seen in the last couple years); the Philadelphia band managed to play a zillion times and on all of the right shows. From the same punk scene that brought to life bands like Merchandise, Milk Music, Total Control, Perfect Pussy, and even Fucked Up, Sheer Mag's live show is just as promising as the source material, a blast of 70s style glam punk peppered with Thin Lizzy style riffing, except delivered with a sense of punk urgency. In addition to killer instrumentalism and song structure, Charismatic front woman Tina Halladay seals the deal. You need to see this band. Don't miss
their first interview
- Fred Pessaro
Sure, they've been a force for a minute, kicking around in the hardcore scene with everyone from Cold World to Touche Amore. But
is Title Fight's call to arms, the band's new manifesto and directional, and rather seismic, shift. They wear it well, and were the go-to on virtually everyone's list of "must sees."
- Fred Pessaro
We Skyped with the French-Cuban sisters back in November
, but onstage is where their dusky soul—a sweet and sultry swirl of R&B and body-slapped beats—really makes sense. The perfect soundtrack for sipping a margarita at sunset or making out against a palm tree at 1 AM with the sand wiggling its way between your toes. J’adore.
- Kim Taylor-Bennett
As I wrote earlier in the week, I was blown away by PC Music’s showcase and thrilled to witness the label’s clever subversions of pop convention, electronic show spectacle, and SXSW branding. But as fun as the carefully aestheticized QT and Hannah Diamond sets were, my favorite act on the lineup was GFOTY, who totally shocked me and overwhelmed me with noise and enthusiasm and spectacle. The bass was so intense. The dancing was immaculate—and a welcome surprise, considering that I was expecting to see a person standing behind a laptop. Instead, there was no apparent source of the music onstage, which seems like a totally fine way to handle the experience of what is, no matter how you present it, just someone pressing play. I much preferred having GFOTY pretend to drink a bright blue beverage out of a Starbucks cup and then thrown it on the crowd. At one point, in a self-consciously vapid British accent, she said “this is fucking ridiculous!” It was, and it was the best thing I saw all week. -
I know. Been around for a bit. No new material. And no, they aren't doing anything to reinvent the wheel. But Austin's Power Trip has never been quite as vicious as they are now with drummer Sam Bosson (Blazing Eye, ex-Trash Talk) in tow.
- Fred Pessaro
Ty Dolla Sign
I saw Ty Dolla $ign twice at last year’s SXSW, when he was just breaking out from underground critical favorite to mainstream star thanks to the success of “Paranoid.” Those shows were fun but not entirely rewarding, the kind of slapped-together good faith gesture that comes from being the hot new act at SXSW and playing a dozen shows in four days as a result. This year, Ty is a legit star, and his headlining set at the Yahoo/Atlantic Records showcase on Wednesday made that clear. He played with an easy, casual energy, bringing out West Coast up-and-comers Casey Veggies and Jay305, along with a giddily stoned (as usual) Wiz Khalifa. Everything about the show projected the same confident calm that Ty has always had, but with an extra veneer of swaggering success that wasn’t there a year ago. Dude never took his sunglasses off, and why would he? As opposed to many of the week’s shows, where the spectacle of the event overpowered the performer, this was Ty’s show, and the rest of us were just there to be a part of it.
Is there another example in popular music of a band as legendary as The Spits, yet still so far from being superstars? The Spits are bonafide geniuses, churning out simple yet perfect acid-drenched pop-punk that would make the Joey Ramone or a pre-douche Misfits-era Glenn Danzig seethe with envy. Someone please make them stars already. They deserve it.
- Fred Pessaro
Underwater squad! As I wrote over the weekend, Keith Ape’s Friday afternoon set at the Ham on Everything party was the craziest rap show I saw all week. Consider me a true believer of everything Orca now and forever, and catch me moving to Seoul to turn up ASAP.
Kero Kero Benito
This London trio are the internet made real: Cutesy, bleepy, boinging Tumblr-pop made totally international due to singer Sarah who delivers sing-raps in French, English, Japanese, and writes tunes about selfies and bossy chickens. They were easily the best thing we saw on day three of SXSW. Theirs is a kind of video-game pop to pull you out of even the most vociferous of cynic-slumps. 1-UP! KKB are winning.
- Kim Taylor-Bennett
SAVEMONEY + Chance the Rapper and the Social Experiment
I found myself in the middle of a SAVEMONEY mob a couple of times during the week, and I was never disappointed by where it eventually led me. I caught the beginning of Chance and The Social Experiment’s electric set at Fader Fort on Wednesday, and, man, “Home Studio (Back Up In This Bitch)” is 100 percent guaranteed to make any live show feel amazing. At the Animal House party on Thursday afternoon, I watched Chance join Dej Loaf onstage in a beautiful show of Midwest solidarity and SXSW serendipity in front of maybe 40 people, and then a giant crowd of Chicago rappers—Chance, Brian Fresco, Kami de Chukwu, Dally Auston, Towkio, Lucki Eck$, Sterling Hayes, and a few I probably didn’t even see—took the stage to turn up in front of that same small crowd. On Friday night, I saw Leather Corduroys rip through the more accessible of their goofily fun songs for a somewhat confused crowd of Wiz Khalifa fans, and then I watched Chance’s crowning moment headlining a free show at Austin Music Hall. He played a new song, which I’ll call “Paradise,” and it was maybe the most celebratory thing I heard all week. Two years ago, Chance was quietly one of the breakout acts at SXSW, and the Chicago friend crew’s flagship project was Kids These Days. This year, there was nothing quiet about SAVEMONEY: The Chicago collective were seemingly everywhere and constantly having a great time.
Christine and the Queens
She's already a dazzling, (award) decorated star in her home country of France and when Madonna saw her now iconic video for "St. Claude," the Queen of Pop called up Christine's video directors and totally bit her style for "Living for Love," but the uber-chic, menswear-favoring star made quite the splash after just three shows at SXSW. Hopping across the pond for her first ever trip to America—smack bang in the middle of her European tour—Christine came stacked with songs that were just as fabulous as “Tilted” (
which we premiered a few weeks back
). On record her music is a very cool, confident kind of pop, but live Christine saunters onstage cracking jokes, being a goofball, and interacting with the crowd like a pro, adding a whole other dimension to her persona. Moreover she’s flanked by two dancers, and the trio vogue together in playful synergy. Or she’s sliding across the stage solo like MJ. It’s utterly magnetic, and this is an entirely stripped down affair; normally she’s backed by at least four more guys choreographing the hell out of her work. She’s back in the States this next month and you really must not miss her. (Check back for our exclusive interview with Christine out later this week.)
- Kim Taylor-Bennett
The mark of a great band? Take away an essential element, like say half of the capabilities of the drummer (who broke his hand) and watch the press use adjectives like "beautifully tasteful and minimal." This Canadian band play technical, yet never noodle-y, indie rock that tips it's hat as much to the superstars of Canadian yesteryear as it does to post-hardcore of the Dischord era. Every bit as good a band as you've heard, and fascinating not only on a compositional level, but live too.
- Fred Pessaro
I can honestly say that Meatbodies were the best band that I saw the entire time I was in Austin this week. I say this because I saw them play three times in completely different settings, and they crushed it every time. This band fucking rules. If you're a fan of heavy guitar rock and want to aggressively bang your head until it hurts then Meatbodies is the band for you. All of these dudes have the appropriate amount of long stringy hair meant for collecting sweat and flipping it all over the place. -Kayla Monetta
Probably the most promising guitar band in the game right now, these dudes have already perfected their amazing live show– able to entertain an audience full of vans-wearing, stage-diving millennials at night, and a bunch of stoic, canadian-tuxedo industry folk during a sobering day-time showcase. If you're unfamiliar with the band (not the show, don't get it twisted) Twin Peaks, you should probably educate yourself because these early 20-somethings know a thing or two about shredding guitar, and crafting catchy guitar rock. The first time I saw the band this week was at Noisey and JanSport's Bonfire Sessions show at Cheer Up Charlies, and they had the entire crowd going batshit crazy– a weird scene for a crowd about to be lulled to sleep by Real Estate, but very #SXSW. -Kayla Monetta
I spent the entirety of the UK band's set standing behind a group of people who kept talking about how "Ultimate Painting are tooootally the 2015 version of The Velvet Underground, bro!" To be honest, they were kind of right. Ultimate Painting were probably the most talked about "buzz band" (I use this term with all sincerity) at SXSW this year– or at least, at all of the primarily guitar-rock shwocases that I attended. I saw the four-some play late afternoon inside of Hotel Vegas to a packed crowd (and a lot of #important #music #industry #folk) who were all riding the same big throwback wave. Every single one of Ultimate Painting's songs will get stuck in your head forever, in the best way possible. Check these dudes out now before they blow up big time. -Kayla Monetta