(Thursday) Spend your time in Austin wisely


    Thursday at SXSW brings out some seasoned veterans, whether forefathers of alternative rock or legends of country music. To provide some small measure of help as you scan through the schedule in a panic, I’ve selected thirty of the most noteworthy bands playing this evening, and I’ve noted the best with an asterisk.


    Without further ado, Thursday’s highlights:



    The Alarm


    Elysium, 1 a.m.

    705 Red River St., (21+)

    The Alarm was a bombastic pioneer of college rock, but it was probably considered an unlikely comeback candidate. However, through a rather elaborate hoax, the band scored a Top 30 U.K. hit in 2004 recording under a pseudonym, the Poppy Fields. Here in Austin, Mike Peters and company probably don’t have to use fake names to get attention: The Alarm is one of the major retro acts of the evening.

    The Alarm Web site


    Bobby Bare


    Momo’s, 9 p.m.


    618 W. 6th St. (18+)


    Bobby Bare Jr.


    Bourbon Rocks, 12 a.m.


    508 E. 6th St. (21+)


    Here’s your chance to see father and son in the same night. Bare Sr. is in the middle of his sixth decade playing country music, including releasing The Moon Was Blue last year. Bare Jr. flirted with punk and alternative hard rock before winding up at Bloodshot Records with a muscled-up country-rock sound. Both are playing at different clubs with an hour in between — count this as a good opportunity to see two generations of Southern musicianship.

    Bobby Bare Web site

    Bobby Bare Jr. Web site



    * Blackalicious


    Town Lake Stage, 6:30 p.m.

    Auditorium Shores (All ages)

    While not quite the all-around joy of Blazing Arrow, last year’s The Craft has established Blackalicious as a consistently cool and thoughtful progressive hip-hop duo. Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel are fun without being stupid, intelligent without being strident, and don’t mistake progressive for boring.

    Blackalicious Web site



    Back Room, 12:15 a.m.

    2015 E. Riverside Dr. (All ages)

    Blowfly is horrifying. That’s a good thing. The self proclaimed “original dirty rapper,” Blowfly brings the funk in every conceivable sense of the word, performing songs from his blue party records of the ’70s as well as new material. This is one nasty motherfucker, so consider yourself warned.

    Blowfly Web site



    * Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

    Eternal, 1 a.m.

    418 E. 6th St. (21+)

    The 2005-06 model for DIY, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has that kitchen-sink sound that sent fellow super-group the Arcade Fire into the buzz stratosphere. Propelled by David Byrne sound-alike Alec Ounsworth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has managed to squeeze major-label-level publicity out of a self-released album. Will the band continue to live up to the hype? A 1 a.m. showcase this evening can certainly help.

    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Web site



    The Cloud Room


    Buffalo Billiards, 1 a.m.

    201 E. 6th St. (21+)

    I’ll base this recommendation off “Hey Now Now” alone. It’s a heck of a song, pleasantly reminiscent of Modern English’s “I Melt With You.” New York’s Cloud Room is still supporting last year’s slowly building Gigantic album, and perhaps some positive attention here will increase momentum.

    The Cloud Room Web site


    Drive by Truckers

    La Zona Rosa, 1 a.m.

    612 W. 4th St. (All ages)

    Drive by Truckers is like Kid Rock for those of us who understand the concept of shame. This is how you honor ’70s Southern rock. The members of the guitar-heavy Truckers have to follow the estimable Kris Kristofferson, so they’ve got some big shoes to fill, but their honky-tonk sound stretches a mile wide and their raucous vibe should make their late set a good place to be. They might even play “Freebird” if you request it, but I doubt it.

    Drive by Truckers Web site



    Eagles of Death Metal


    Exodus, 12:45 a.m.

    302 E. 6th St. (21+)

    Queens of the Stone Age side project number sixty-two, Eagles of Death Metal has Josh Homme sitting behind the drum kit, while Jesse Hughes takes Josh’s spot behind the microphone and six-string. Their live set is painfully tongue in cheek, postured, and, oh yeah, kinda fun. Far more glam/garage than death metal, Eagles of Death Metal’s existence is validated by its stage shows.

    Eagles of Death Metal Web site




    Buffalo Billiards, 9 p.m.

    201 E. 6th St. (21+)

    Earlimart the city lies between Los Angeles and Fresno. Earlimart the band lies somewhere between Death Cab for Cutie and Sonic Youth. Appearing at SXSW for the second year in a row, this band has been on the verge of busting out for a while now. Having seen the band’s set last year, I can vouch for its quality, and I’m slightly curious as to what new material the members have to showcase.

    Earlimart Web site


    Echo & The Bunnymen


    Town Lake Stage, 8 p.m.

    Auditorium Shores (All ages)

    Still featuring Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, Echo & The Bunnymen have been back together for almost ten years, although you may be forgiven for not being aware. Regardless, they are among the more prominent veteran acts of this year’s SXSW and are by all accounts still cranking out fairly strong music. Echo & the Bunnymen should be a popular show, playing the great outdoors at Auditorium Shores.

    Echo & The Bunnymen Web site



    The Fiery Furnaces


    Stubb’s, 10 p.m.

    801 Red River St. (All ages)

    In turn brilliant and infuriating, Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces have a tendency to treat their live sets as one long free-form medley of their repertoire; an approach that proves challenging even for fans such as myself. Even so, they have in a relatively short period of time put out some wonderfully complex music that rewards those with the patience to follow along with them. With the new Bitter Tea on the way, the Furnaces could have one of the bigger showcases of the evening.

    The Fiery Furnaces Web site


    Flogging Molly


    Emo’s Main Room, 10:15 p.m.

    603 Red River St. (All ages)


    Flogging Molly‘s Gaelic punk places it in the company of the Pogues and Young Dubliners, and there are always enough tipsy Irishmen to create a crowd whenever the band plays. Irish by way of Los Angeles, Dave King and his band will serenade the piss out of you with their “Drunken Lullabies,” and you might be hard pressed to resist.

    Flogging Molly Web site 


    Gogol Bordello


    Emo’s Main Room, 12:45 a.m.

    603 Red River St. (All ages)

    Yet another gypsy-punk band, Gogol Bordello gained some attention last year after frontman Eugene Hutz costarred with Frodo Baggins in the film Everything Is Illuminated and the soundtrack included the band’s music. While the potential is there for a Matisyahu-style novelty act, Gogol Bordello’s boisterous ethnic stomp is a lark on disc, and I’d be shocked if they aren’t even better live.

    Gogol Bordello Web site





    Austin Music Hall, 12:15 a.m.

    208 Nueces St. (All Ages)

    The unfortunately named Allison Goldfrapp has formed a nice little cottage industry as sweetheart of the electronica tastemaker set, along with her band partner, Will Gregory. Loved by its peers, Goldfrapp has yet to really click stateside (or with me, for that matter), but that won’t prevent the group’s closing set at Austin Music Hall from being a top destination.

    Goldfrapp Web site


    * Gomez


    Stubb’s, 12 a.m.

    801 Red River St. (All ages)

    I’ve made peace with the fact that Gomez will never be the next big thing after all. Oh, well. The band still has put together almost a decade of catchy and unpredictable tunes. The boys of Gomez are better songwriters than most similarly labeled “jam bands,” but their loose live sets bear testament to their strong reputation as performers. Yeah, I like these guys.

    Gomez Web site


    The Gossip

    Emo’s Annex, 1 a.m.

    600 Red River St. (All ages)


    An odd combination of confrontational and care-free, the Gossip is a punk band you can dance to. A new album, Standing in the Way of Control, is in stores on the Kill Rock Star label, and the handful of songs I’ve heard are definitely catchy, complemented by the cool howl of the lead singer known only as Beth.


    The Gossip Web site



    Anthony Hamilton

    La Zona Rosa, 7:45 p.m.

    612 W. 4th St. (All ages)

    Anthony Hamilton has been on the fringe of several major R&B movements, without being able to reap the fruits of their successes. His recent collaborations with producer Jermaine Dupri have finally given him some deserved attention as a lead vocalist. Hamilton will likely perform a number of songs off of his recent release, Ain’t Nobody Worryin’.

    Anthony Hamilton Web site



    * Richard Hawley


    Austin Music Hall, 8:15 PM

    208 Nueces St. (All Ages)

    Richard Hawley is a traditional crooner with an untraditional approach — imagine if Rufus Wainwright had the voice of a baritone angel. I’m concerned that his low-key cool won’t mesh with a crowd that’s amped up for the immediately following Morrissey, but it’s their loss if that’s the case. Hawley is a genuine artist.

    Richard Hawley Web site


    * Kris Kristofferson

    La Zona Rosa, 12 a.m.

    612 W. 4th St. (All ages)

    There are thousands of musicians that will be in Austin the week of March 13, and not a one of them can claim to have written more hit songs than Kris Kristofferson. The songwriter/singer/actor/badass is sure to bust out more than a few old chestnuts at La Zona Rosa, and he probably has some great stories to tell in between songs as well. Kristofferson’s show will be hard to get into — and with good reason.

    Kris Kristofferson Web site


    The Like


    Elysium, 12 a.m.

    705 Red River St. (21+)

    The blessed product of nepotism, the Like’s Z. Berg, Charlotte Froom and Tennessee Thomas all have famous fathers, but let’s not hold that too harshly against them. Their music is pleasantly evocative of Throwing Muses, and their debut, Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking, has Alan Moulder at the knobs. The Like is a band I really want to dislike but don’t.

    The Like Web site



    * Carolyn Mark


    Nuno’s Upstairs, 9 p.m.

    422 E. 6th St. (21+)

    The other half of the Corn Sisters along with Neko Case, Carolyn Mark is certainly the lesser known Canadian alt-country singer, but that just makes her more of a discovery when you hear her. Laugh-out-loud funny and engaging onstage, Mark has just released an album of duets on Mint Records and should have a very free-form show.

    Carolyn Mark Web site



    The Minus 5


    Continental Club, 1 a.m.

    1315 S. Congress Ave. (21+)

    Scott McCaughey’s albums as the Minus 5 are largely collaborative, so part of the anticipation of his SXSW gig would have to be centered on who’s going to join him on stage. The witty McCaughey, a natural born entertainer on stage, is always good for a laugh, and the just-released eponymous album has some choice songs that are likely to be brought out.

    The Minus 5 Web site





    * Morrissey


    Austin Music Hall, 9:30 p.m.

    208 Nueces St. (All Ages)

    Yes, that morose, brilliant bastard Steven Patrick Morrissey has decided to grace Austin with his presence, much to the chagrin of anyone who has a set going at the exact same time. Moz probably has the most anticipated showcase of any artist this week, as 2004’s You Are the Quarry brought the former Smiths frontman back into the center of indie rock’s radar. With Ringleader of the Tormentors due out in April, Morrissey has the Austin Music Hall as tonight’s epicenter.

    Morrissey Web site


    Nada Surf


    The Parish, 1 a.m.

    214B E. 6th St. (All ages)

    Count me among those stunned that Nada Surf‘s second act has been proven so special. I would not have thought that Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca and Ira Elliot would escape the one-hit wonder shadow of “Popular” with last year’s The Weight Is A Gift, produced by Death Cab’s Chris Walla. It’s full of fine sensitive boy anthems, and their closing set at the Parish should pack in all the shy guys coming off of their Morrissey high.

    Nada Surf Web site


    Nickel Creek


    Stubb’s, 1 a.m.

    801 Red River St. (All ages)

    Nickel Creek may have shifted away from bluegrass toward adult-oriented rock, but the shift is still rather slight. The fact is that Sean Watkins, Sara Watkins, Chris Thile, and their multitude of stringed instruments have put together a body of work that is soulful, melancholy and at times heartbreakingly beautiful. Nickel Creek will be playing songs from Why Should the Fire Die? as well as earlier gems.

    Nickel Creek Web site


    * Spoon


    Town Lake Stage, 7 p.m.

    Auditorium Shores (All ages)

    I caught Spoon last year at a surprisingly underrepresented showcase, where they introduced songs off of the then unreleased Gimme Fiction. One year later and the band has been given the large outdoor venue, and now that everyone outside of Austin is set hip to Spoon’s greatness, I’m expecting a much, much bigger turnout. Britt Daniel and his band keep getting better, and I’m giving very strong consideration to seeing them yet again this year.

    Spoon Web site


    Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives


    Antone’s, 11 p.m.

    213 W. 5th St. (All ages)

    Thursday night has more than its share of established country singer-songwriters, so Marty competes with Bobby Bare and Kris Kristofferson for an audience. Stuart’s the relative newbie of the three, not really coming into his own until the mid-’80s, but he’s since been established as country royalty, even having served as president of the Country Music Foundation.

    Marty Stuart Web site


    The Twilight Singers

    Friends, 11:30 p.m.

    208 E. 6th St. (21+)

    When I first heard the Twilight Singers back in 2000, I assumed they’d be a one-off experiment for Greg Dulli until he returned to Afghan Whigs. Imagine my surprise when six years later, I see that Dulli’s attention is still with this musically expansive Los Angeles quintet. With new album Powder Burns on the way in May, the Twilight Singers should have plenty of fresh material.

    Twilight Singers Web site



    Xiu Xiu

    Emo’s Annex, 11 p.m.

    600 Red River St. (All ages)

    The wonderfully disturbing Xiu Xiu is not the most accessible band to play Austin this week, but as evidenced by 2005’s La Foret, it is among the bolder. A bizarre, unnerving duel of guitar and keyboard with constantly off-kilter vocals, Xiu Xiu‘s music could challenge and delight if given the opportunity.

    Xiu Xiu Web site


    * The Zutons


    Austin Music Hall, 7 p.m.

    208 Nueces St. (All Ages)

    “Pressure Point” by the Zutons was one of the best singles that should have been a hit of last year. The Liverpudlians are back with a new album due this spring and share a bill with Morrissey. Recalling the Animals and the Rascals, the Zutons’ retro feel-good sound is a perfect way to kick off the evening.

    The Zutons Web site

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