By Katie Lannan
Rhyming names aside, Boston and Austin are two dramatically different cities. Austin has barbecue, sunshine, and the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference, while Boston has clam chowder, windy rain and -- actually, Boston doesnít have anything like SXSW, but weíre sure coming close to claiming the week-long musical part of the festival for ourselves, with local acts descending in droves upon 6th Street for free concerts and official showcases alike.
Whether youíre Texas-bound or spending the week at home, mapping out your dream festival schedule from your desk at work and promising yourself youíll finally make the pilgrimage next year, here are seven Boston-based acts you'll find at this year's festival.
Pajama People. This Allston quartet is opening for Of Montreal in a Fallback Records showcase, and their dreamy, haunting electro is the perfect complement to Of Montrealís darkly psychadelic pop. With two more scheduled shows throughout the week, Pajama People are making the most of their first trip to SXSW, and making it impossible for festival-goers to excuse missing out on their melodic lo-fi.†Where you'll find them:†March 14, 7:15 p.m., @ Thirsty Monkey (1613 Chicago Ave.);†March 15, 7:30 p.m., @ 500 Mulberry Dr.;†March 16, 12 p.m., @ Six Lounge (117 W. 4th St.).
Canary. If your SXSW goal is to find artists that havenít made it big yet so you can impress (or, realistically, annoy) your friends a year from now by bragging about how you already discovered their new favorite act last March, you wonít want to miss Berklee College of Musicís Official SXSW Party. The event showcases alumni and students, including the five-piece rock band Canary. Fresh off the heels of the release of their EP, Handsome Stranger, Canary is bringing a classic sound to Austin; they describe it as Fleetwood Mac meets Led Zeppelin. Thereís something decidedly old-school about singer Jackie Berkeleyís powerful vocals, while the balance of equally strong guitar, keyboards, and sax keep it fresh. Where you'll find them:†March 15, 4 p.m., @ El Leonís Bar (1910 E. Cesar Chavez St.);†March 16, 2:15 p.m., @ Friends (208 E. 6th St.).
Animal Talk. Please donít go see Animal Talk if youíre not going to dance. Assertive percussion and slightly rough vocals round out pop-y synths and indie rock guitars, all of which come together for a high-energy live show that defies the audience a chance to stand still, let alone sit down. Need proof? Check out the lyrics and attitude from their track ďCanít Dance With It.Ē Where you'll find them:†March 15, 6 p.m., @ The Chugginí Monkey (219 E. 6th St.);†March 16, 6 p.m., @ The Rooftop on 6th (403 E. 6th St.);†March 17, 7 p.m., @ The Dizzy Rooster (306 E. 6th St.).
Bad Rabbits. Having already rocked Austin once in 2010, this quintet takes its genre-bending funk/dance/hip-hop to the SXSW stages yet again as a more established act. Plenty of local gigs, plus five national tours -- including last yearís Vans Warped Tour†--†have made Bad Rabbits veterans when it comes to performing, without dulling their unique vibe and high-octane beats. But of course these guys know how to party: They got their start as the backing band for legendary rapper Slick Rick. Where you'll find them:†March 15, 7 p.m., @ Kung Fu Saloon (510 Rio Grande St.);†March 15, 9:40 p.m., @ La Zona Rosa (612 W. 4th St.);†March 16, 11 p.m., @ Palm Door (401 Sabine St.).
Quilt. Quiltís songs have a ghostly sound -- not like a horror movie, but like a spirit guide leading you through hazy, half-forgotten memories. This isnít party music; itís chilled out enough that it could almost put you to sleep if the delicately layered harmonies werenít so compelling. Recently signed to Mexican Summer, Quilt is poised for a breakthrough, so catch their set now in Austin (or next month in Allston). Where you'll find them:†March 15, 9 p.m. @ Red 7 (611 E. 7th. St.).
Sarah Blacker. Bon Iverís recent Grammy win may have gotten people talking about folk rock, but independent artists like Sarah Blacker are just as worthy of attention. Expect the Cambridge singer/songwriter to be getting noticed on a broader level soon, thanks to her jazz-influenced style and straightforward but emotion-laden lyrics. Even Bambi loves her. Blacker joins Pajama People for the free MySecretBoston/Fort Awesome show on the 16th and has a gig set for the following day as well, but if you canít make it to Austin, donít worry: she does house calls. Where you'll find him:†March 16, 12 p.m., @ Six Lounge (117 W. 4th St.);†March 17, 12:45 p.m., @ Austin Java (1608 Barton Springs Rd.).
OldJack. Maybe youíre leery about blindly following my musical suggestions (and really, I wouldnít blame you. If you canít take candy from a stranger, why would it be OK to take something as loaded as music advice?). If thatís the case, take solace in the fact that legitimate authorities are also impressed by OldJack, including Adam Duritz of Counting Crows. Duritz co-curated The Outlaw Roadshow, a seven-hour St. Patrickís Day bash featuring 19 emerging bands, and OldJack is among them. They'll infuse the lineup with some old-fashioned soul in the form of an eclectic rock group complete with organist and three backup singers. Where you'll find them:†March 17, 12 p.m., @ Rustyís Austin (405 E. 7th St.).
Heading to SXSW? What acts are you most excited to see?
About Katie -- Currently a Brookline resident and BU senior, I grew up in New Hampshire, meaning I get confused when charged sales tax and can discuss at length the differences between multiple varieties of apples. At any given moment, I likely have my iPhone in my hand and at least one newspaper in my purse. I'm a political junkie, as well as an iced coffee addict. My interests include journalism, canvas sneakers, and pretending I'm in Ireland.
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