The Best of the Rest: SXSW 2016

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The Best of Austin:

“We are all just particles of stardust”

So says the singer of Golden Dawn Arkestra – a 12-piece collective (+ 3 dancers!) that Austinites tell me is the best band in the city at the moment.

The highlights of SXSW Day 1 for me were two Austin bands who couldn’t be more different but are helping this city earn it’s nickname as athe Live Music Capitol of the World.

Golden Dawn are like Femi Kuti meets Flaming Lips meets Quantic meets Burning Man. Masked and costumed with an outrageous frontman who jumps in the crowd.

Then we headed to see all female trio Moving Panoramas — super locked in as musicians and great songs to boot. This is our fave and was their encore:

Why SXSW is Still Great:

In 25 minutes, I was able to see THREE incredible artists by hopscotching across venues.

It took some planning and a pedi cab, but I caught Third Man Records signee Margo Price singing “Hurtin on the Bottle” (likely a theme for many here at the fest) and rounded a corner to catch Bayonne who, despite having mostly instrumental music, had some of the best on-stage energy I’ve seen.  (Bayonne is one of this week’s Album Preview features on the KCRW website, so check out a stream of the whole album here.)

The last in the trio was none other than Loretta Lynn, singing her hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter” at Stubbs.

Why You Should Follow Your Friends:

My first set at SXSW each year is always an interesting indicator of what’s to come.

This year, the honor went to Nashville’s Thelma and the Sleaze. I had previously spotted their name on a list of bands headed to Austin and had a good chuckle. So when a friend diverted me from my plan to get in early for a plum spot to see Jack Garratt, I went along with it.

This all female trio channeled the scorching heat of a Texas afternoon (90 degrees) into a fierce set of tunes. Between their off color jokes between songs and song names (“Deez Nuts”) — and their awesomely aggressive stage stance — I would LOVE to see what one of their late night shows is like.

Thelma and the Sleaze by Brian Feinzimer
Thelma and the Sleaze by Brian Feinzimer

I’d heard through the grapevine that Jack Garratt was incredible live, but it still didn’t prepare me for HOW good. The British artist performs as a one-man band, no easy feat considering all the high notes he hits. Jason has been giving him lots of spins lately and you should give his new album a listen when you have the chance.

Speaking of, I’ve seen THREE notable “one man bands” – Jack, Declan McKenna and Cosmo Sheldrake. All from the UK.

Either it’s the wave of the future or just a very convenient way for an international artist to play at SXSW (where there is little time for soundchecking and moving from place to place can be an extraordinary challenge)

SXSW Buzz Artist I’m Most Looking Forward Seeing Back in LA:

LA’s own Anderson .Paak is the talk of the fest and he plays Morning Becomes Eclectic on Tuesday morning!