New York music fans traveled to Austin, Texas this week to see their favorite New York bands play the annual South by Southwest Music Conference. The festival kicked off Tuesday night and runs through Monday.
TV on the Radio came out of a hiatus to play SXSW in support of its new album, Nine Types of Light, which is due for release on April 12. The Brooklyn-based band played an array of new songs as well as a healthy mix of amped-up older tracks like "Staring at the Sun" on Tuesday night to remind fans why they stood in all-night lines to see the band play live later in the week.
"As much as I love TV on the Radio's albums, nothing beats their live shows," New York fan Melissa Hutner said, who waited in line for close to an hour to get into the TV on the Radio show. TV on the Radio is capping a bill of six bands on Thursday, March 17 at Austin's famous Stubb's Bar-B-Q.
The influx of popular, mainstream artists into the SXSW Festival—this year includes appearances by Duran Duran and The Strokes—hasn't dimmed the fact that SXSW is still focused on bringing smaller bands to the stage.
The up-and-coming Queens' hip hop outfit Das Racist (pictured left) brought the house down Tuesday night despite playing at the same time as the not-so-secret band The Foo Fighters. Brooklyn's much-buzzed Beach Fossils managed to pack the room that night too to play its retro '80s-inspired pop.
Earlier in the week, New York's Sleigh Bells managed to crank up the volume even higher to greet fans with smash hits like "Tell 'Em" and "Rill Rill." Lee Smith, who traveled to the festival from Brooklyn, was at the Sleigh Bells show, sans-earplugs (not recommended). "I've seen this band five times in Brooklyn, but this Austin crowd has so much more energy than at the New York shows," he said.
Of the 2,000 plus bands on the festival's bill this year, 225 are from New York. Many are playing showcases this week.
Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl) will play its quirky and whimsical '60s folk pop songs at Elysium on March 19. New York bands such as the country-influenced rockers The Felice Brothers (pictured right), Man Man, and The Strokes are all playing free sets at Auditorium Shores Stage. Lifelong New Yorker Elizabeth Ziman, known for her residencies at the East Village Rockwood Music Hall under the moniker Elizabeth and the Catapult, is bringing her atmospheric pop to Creekside on Friday, March 18 at 1 A.M. The so-called "shoegaze" indie rockers behind Asobi Seksu will play their ethereal, noisy tunes at The Parish on March 19 to promote the band’s recently released fifth album Fluorescence. Fans of breathy folk songs by Brooklyn's Sharon Van Etten can catch her playing at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase on Wednesday and at IFC's Crossroads House on Sunday.
The good news for music fans unable to make the trek to Austin this year? The WNYC Culture team has free downloads up for grabs from more than 50 bands playing at SXSW.