The Best Shows at SXSW This Year

Categories: SXSW

Marco Torres
Best Hat of SXSW 2013

This year, our sister papers the Dallas Observer and Houston Press teamed up to document the SXSW madness for your amusement and/or edification. Here are the 12 best shows and moments they saw.

12. Not In The Face: Not In The Face closed out my SXSW week at the Blackheart on Rainey Street, Austin's less shameful counterpart to the bastard Sixth Street, with a sound best described as Queens of the Stone Age mated with the Temptations. The trio is coming into their own around these parts, playing with ZZ Top and Reverend Horton Heat, solidifying their Texas rep as the new what's hot. Their new Walk EP shoves it on home. CRAIG HLAVATY

Photo by Marco Torres
11. Dave Grohl Crushes Bitchiness: How SXSW will manage to top the back-to-back positivity and charisma of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl is beyond me. The latter's keynote speech managed to turn Nirvana's story into something genuinely inspirational, an affirmation of personal expression.

But by far my favorite little rhetorical turn was the way he made both Pitchfork and reality singing shows look so incredibly silly, just by talking about them in the same sentence. Because it's true, isn't it, that the difference between Christina Aguilera and the lazier end of Pitchfork's criticism boils down to little more than amount of hairspray. KIERNAN MALETSKY

10. Ume: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been one of the most exciting rock bands for several years running, pushing the boundaries of what a modern pop-rock band is expected to do, but I guess I've always longed a little bit for the days when they were New York's favorite art-punks. Who, I wondered, would bring that kind of energy and excitement to SXSW this year in lieu of the now-certified stadium-rock Yeah Yeah Yeahs?

Apparently, that's local Austin psych-rockers (and former Houstonians) Ume. A growing band just about to break out, they secured a beautiful opening spot for Cloud Nothings and Portugal. The Man at The Mohawk early on the first Sunday of the fest. Ume immediately won me over with their raucus bursts of guitar-driven art rock, with front woman Lauren Larson threatening to take the whole thing off the rails with the abuse of her guitar strings.

Still, underneath this Ume possesses an air of intelligence and depth rare in a genre known primarily for its copious drug use. When it comes to art, psychedelia, and rock and roll, it doesn't get much better. COREY DEITERMAN

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