If you're brave enough to push through five days of crowds, celebs, and crashers at South by Southwest's famous music festival in Austin, Texas, the least Out can do is help make sure you're seeing the best possible shows. Here's our carefully curated lineup, full of favorites, fall-backs and flat-out guesses. Good luck.
Everything in South by Southwest's schedule is subject to change, so make sure you grab a local guide. That goes double if he's cute.
Ari Gold brings that unique gay-Jew-from-the-Bronx touch to R&B. Expect to hear the huge-sounding single "Love Will Take Over."
Brian Wright & the Waco Tragedies is a lot like Bruce Springsteen -- if the Boss were from Texas and obsessed with Burt Reynolds.
British Sea Power have been compared to Joy Division and with good reason. Case in point: the single "Victorian Ice."
Chromeo classify themselves as electrofunk. Guaranteed to get your heartbeat up, this duo will wow you with their vocoder skills.
DeVotchKa, or "young girl" in Russian, are your one-stop, multi-ethnic musical source. Where else might you hear a theremin?
Dizzee Rascal The super-talented British rapper hasn't lost his edge since winning the Mercury Prize in 2003.
The English Beat, as they're known in the U.S., are slightly different from the Beat, currently touring in the U.K., but count on both bands dishing up ska-punk from their 1978 heyday.
Girl In A Coma is on Joan Jett's record label but needs no bold-named sponsor to rock a Morrissey-esque twang-punk vibe.
The Helio Sequence just put out their fourth indie album, Keep Your Eyes Ahead, through SubPop.
Heloise & the Savoir Faire's first album, Trash, Rats and Microphones, isn't out yet, which is why you should see their provocative disco-influenced synth-pop act now (when you can still get close enough to ogle the synchronized dance moves).
The Hush Sound will release a new folky indie rock album on March 18, a follow-up to 2006's Like Vines. Go ahead and crush on keyboardist Greta Salpeter -- we are.
Jens Lekman is Sweden's finest indie pop export. Much like the Magnetic Fields, his lyrics are worth pondering after you've stopped hopping around.
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds is guitarist Brian Tristan's step away from the Cramps and Nick Cave -- halfway between a great punk-rock show and performance art.
Martha Wainwright, sister of Rufus Wainwright, is a folk-pop force on her own. She'll take that "Gay Messiah" and raise you a "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole."
Moby is still a classic (unless you hate his guts) and still something to indulge your techno side.
Noisettes canceled their last planned U.S. tour. Catch them now before their sophomore indie album is released.
Paramore might break up, so go see them while you still can. Their pop rock has a tiny touch of deep south, by way of an angry breakup. If their single "Misery Business" hasn't hit you, go for "Crushcrushcrush."
Phantom Planet have so much more to give than everyone's favorite O.C. theme song. The SoCal spastic rockers new album, Raise the Dead, is the first since 2004's eponymous release -- and well worth the wait.
R.E.M. need no explanation. Get there early -- the perf will definitely be crowded.
Robyn and her asymmetrical pop drive the boys wild.
Ra Ra Riot have survived the death of their original drummer, John Ryan Pike, and continued on with their Syracuse, N.Y.based folk-rock awesomeness.
Scissors for Lefty should be much bigger than they are, considering their almost epic Britpop (think Pulp) emanates from fan-friendly Southern California.
Simian Mobile Disco isn't normally a touring band. They come highly recommended by Pitchfork. If that means something (good) to you, check them out.
The Slits are owed royalties and loyalty from any female rock group formed after 1979, but with the EP Hated coming out this month, they prove they're still fresh.
The Stills might still be running on the fumes from Logic Will Break Your Heart, but what powerful fumes they are! Brush up on their strong 2006 release, Without Feathers, but get your nostalgic dancing shoes on for "Still In Love Song."
Tokyo Police Club haven't released a full album yet, but singles A Lesson in Crime and Smith, along with a handful of B-sides, earned them a contract with Saddle Creek. Find a copy of "Your English Is Good" before you see them.
Vampire Weekend, From Brooklyn, this band has all the best hype in the U.K., where only the best poppin' fresh indies rise to the top.
The Vines had a huge year in 2004, when their song "Ride" was featured in commercials. They haven't had name recognition since then, partially because they've been dealing with lead singer and founding member Craig Nicholls' Asberger's Syndrome.
The Von Bondies, from the same Detroit scene as the White Stripes, always give fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping live shows. Expect tracks from their new album, Love, Hate and Then There's You.
White Rabbits break one of the seemingly obvious rules of stage shows: They have two full drum sets, both used for almost every song. Surprisingly, the surfeit of percussion doesn't overwhelm the band's honky-tonkinfluenced rock. Keep an eye out for pianist Stephen Patterson's super hot stage presence.
The most exhausting part of SXSW is the schedule. With five days, seemingly thousands of venues, and more bands than you could shake three sticks at, you and countless other fans will be rushing from venue to venue. Any opportunity to enjoy a nice back-to-back set of great acts -- and stay in one place long enough to make some equally sweaty and tired new friends -- is a good score. Here are the best:
Sons and Daughters followed by the Kills at Domino's Showcase at Antone's, starting at 11pm on Wednesday. Sons and Daughters always give an energizing and sexy live show. Lead singer Adelle whips her mic cord around with lethal grace. Throw in the Kills, whose new single, "U.R.A Fever," sounds like pure slinky aural sex, and you've got a strong pairing.
Autolux before the Black Keys at Emo's, starting at 11:40pm on Wednesday. You could even show up for Be Your Own Pet at 10:50pm. Autolux will deliver a riveting, electric-rock sound, then the Black Keys will chill you down. Thickfreakness is already a guitar-heavy rock classic, and their new Attack & Release is slated to join it.
Kimya Dawson then the Blow at Emo's IV, starting at midnight on Wednesday. If you've seen Juno you're already familiar with Kimya Dawson's vocals. The Moldy Peaches' vocalist's lo-fi sound is starting to get major attention. The Blow (a.k.a. Khaela Maricich) provides a great compliment with her own lo-fi electronic songs.
Sia and Hanson are paired for the Bat Bar's sponsored time at the Austin Convention Center, starting early Thursday at 6pm. Sia's third solo album, Some People Have Real Problems, was the first Starbucks in-store album by an artist still at the beginning of her career, but Hanson's recent This Walk, their seventh studio album, proved that these no-longer-boys have a long career ahead of them.
Del The Funky Homosapien followed by Spoon at Auditorium Shores, starting at 7pm on Thursday. If you miss this, you can catch Del at Scoot Inn at 10:45pm. If you stay through three other acts, you can also catch Dizzee Rascal at 1:15am. Spoon, fronted by the mesmerizing Britt Daniel, is a local Austin band, so expect the crowd to be extra excited -- or totally over it.
The RockOut Music Showcase, presented by Gay.com and The Advocate on Thursday at 8pm. Two venues, eight queer artists. Hit up one show or the other at Rain or Oilcan Harry's.
Yo La Tengo then My Morning Jacket, sponsored by NPR, at the Austin Music Hall, starting at 9:30pm on Thursday. Both bands should give a nice start to the evening with their poetic, guitar-heavy indie rock.
Wheatus before the Presidents of The United States of America at Cedar Door on Thursday at 11:40pm should bring all the energetic punk wannabes. Don't let that stop you, as teen favorites Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag" still rocks. The Presidents like to say they're post-grunge, and with a band history dating back to 1993 they should know.
Kate Walsh and Cut Copy at the Day Stage Cafe in the Austin Convention Center, starting at 3:30pm on Friday. Wait around until 5:00pm and you can see the Lemonheads. Kate's "Talk of the Town" will illustrate her refreshing appeal. Cut Copy, from Melbourne, are the best in indie dance music.
The Cribs, Sia and N.E.R.D. at Stubbs, starting at 11pm on Friday. Possibly the most unusual three-act lineup that you should still definitely see. The Cribs have cleaned up their act, literally, after being tucked under the wing of Alex Kapranos, Franz Ferdinand's lead singer. Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever was one of the strongest indie rock albums of 2007, which will segue surprisingly well into Sia's pop melodies. How all of this will compare with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo's attitude-heavy mix of funk and hip hop is anyone's guess. (Good luck keeping perennial producer/collaborator Pharrell off stage the rest of the night, though.)
The Raveonettes with the Donnas at Emo's on Saturday starting at 10pm. The Raveonettes are best with a date. Hold hands and sway while this Danish duo rocks out. They do the best cover of "My Boyfriend's Back" out there. If you don't have a date, the Donnas' set might be the best place to find one.
Hello, my name is...
Haven't heard of some of these bands? Neither have we. But here are the ones we'd check out based solely on their names.
Wednesday: Two Dollar Bash, Bo Pepper, Faceless Werewolves, MINK, Mostly Bears, Gentleman Auction House, Kreamy 'Lectric Santa, the Dicks, Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears, Ringo Deathstarr, the Bang Gang Deejays, Wax Fang, Satin Dolls, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Cancer Bats, Naked Raygun, Lick Lick, the Big Bang, Trash Fashion, Suffrajett.
Thursday: Shepard Fairey, DJ Pube$, Simply Saucer, Shout Out Out Out Out (how could we resist?), Ultimate Power Duo, Wussy, Big Red Rooster, Uh Huh Her, Peggy Sue & The Pirates, Pink Nasty, Fourcolorzack & Pretty Titty, The Voom Blooms, Back Door Slam, Secret Lives! of the Freemasons, Tokyo Sex Destruction, Fuck Buttons, I Was A Cut Scout, the Blow, Fucked Up, the Dykeenies, Holy Fuck.
Friday: Bear in Heaven, the Mint Chicks, Fleet Foxes, Bat Makumba, Supersuckers, Dalek, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Tilly and the Wall, the Show Is The Rainbow, Postman, the Whip, Turbo Fruits, She and Him, Harvey Milk, Foxy Shazam, Fatal Flying Guiloteens, Team Robespierre, Care Bears on Fire, Ladyfingers, Lexie Mountain Boys, the Homosexuals, American Babies, Grayskul.
Saturday: Guitar Women w/ Cindy Cashdollar and Sue Foley, Socalled Think About Life, CPC Gangbangs, Pink Reason, Minipop, Oh No! Oh My!, Neon Neon, the A-Sides, Pepi Ginsberg, Russian Circles, Best Fwends, Love of Lesbian, Beangrowers, Innerpartysystem, the Belleville outfit, Men, Services, Chikita Violenta, Spiral Beach, Roxy Cottontail, Digitalism, CunninLynguists, the Victorian English Gentlemens Club, $hit and $hine, the Ugly Beats, Kiss Kiss, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Jokers Of The Scene
Sunday: Awesome Cool Dudes, DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, Team Facelift, Tragedy, A Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees.