There's no festival quite like South By Southwest. For four days a year, anyone with even the slightest feigned work-ties to Planet Pop descends upon the Live Music Capital Of The World.
Every March, Austin, Texas is transformed into a carnage-ridden view of all that's to come. Enjoy our pick of the best...
For more on SXSW, including video interviews with the buzziest bands, head to the Radar blog.
Petulant urchins come garage-glammers
The Smith Westerns are a true SXSW fairytale. The four 17-year-old garage-glammers drove the nine-hour journey from their native Chicago alone: no manager, no agent, no label. They shall return home with numerous hefty options for all of the latter. Why?
Well, partly because the tense, yet low-slung delivery is the most intrinsically fly thing on show anywhere in Texas this spring; the likes of ‘Be...
A less knotty, pastoral Fleet Foxes
A little way from Austin’s bustling main drag, crawling as it is with already-pissed punks, police on horseback and the seemingly infinite scores of teenage emo-boppers that line its curbs day and night, next big nu-roots thang The Middle East’s show tonight could be anywhere in the world.
The quiet, shady surroundings of the venue, the hushed appreciation of the onlookers and the songs’...
East NYC's realest hardcore saviours
Driving 872 miles across the States to play in the freezing cold outside a tattoo parlour to their manager, three idle inkers, and an NME representative is nothing for East NYC’s realest hardcore saviours.
Last month they played a ‘Canadian tour’ which consisted of one date to a seven-strong crowd in someone’s basement, a total of 23 hours’ driving, and the loss of $200 trying to sneak...
New York duo primed for the big time
Graduating from Buzz Phase One "Bloggy Pre-Hype", to Buzz Phase Two "Full Blown Blossoming Promise" are New York frolicboom girl/boy duo Sleigh Bells. Earlier demos were charmingly rough, making total sense within today's low-fi centric indiescape.
But tonight, from the gravitas of the gong-sirened intro to the arena-posturing rawk thwacks of "Infinity Guitars", Sleigh Bells' assembly du jour of...
Hazy, sun-warped dream-dance
Following on from his zeitgeist-defining ‘Life Of Leisure’ EP, Georgia’s Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, comes to SXSW carrying an expectation that would faze many. Not this glow-fi monarch, though.
With likeminded New Yorkers Small Back as his backing band, his hazy, sun-warped dream-dance has never seemed more at home, the loping bass, sticky Balearic synths and slo-mo carnival percussion of...
2010's answer to Adam Ant
It probably makes sense that the effects of global warming should be felt most strongly in good old gas-chugging Texas itself. The weather has switched from stifling heat to bitter cold in under 24 hours, making the proposition of hanging around in a car park with a beer less appealing.
Try telling John O, aka Diamond Rings, that this is anything but stardust and moonbeams though.
Playful '50s inflected rock'n'roll
Anyone who’s felt themselves frozen out by arena-chasing indie should look no further than wide-eyed orchestral-doo-wop troupe Magic Kids for their salvation.
Jaw chiseled from diamond, six-foot-six of gangly double-denim and shaking his shoulders like Elvis with a limp wrist, leader Bennett is a bona fide superstar in the making. His deep, dreamy croon – part Edwyn Collins deadpan, part Dennis...
Spellbinding Scandinavian crunk-folk
Crunk-folk duo JJ’s first live ‘appearance’ away from Scandinavia certainly polarises reactions at tonight’s ramjammed showcase. NME is intrigued but not convinced.
Elin’s voice is spellbinding, no doubt; in debt equally to Janis Joplin’s ravishing howl, her high-school choir teacher and, most uniquely, Lil Wayne’s Auto-Tuned druggy spew. But the arrival of producer Joakim and his lack...
The mid-bill slots at a SXSW label hoedown are where you get to witness acts testing the water as they tentatively move their bedroom experiments into the live arena. Understandably this isn’t always to instant fireworks and fanfares. The synth-doom malevolence of Radar’s favourite unsavoury Michigan trio Salem was always going to be hard to translate.
Numerous factors don’t help our...
Heart-breakingly hypnotic choral-psych sect
Brace yourself. The girl that got you into Nirvana, the sixth form college ‘one that got away’, and the studious cousin you never told anyone you fancied have formed an unholy alliance of eternal charm to torment you forever.
They consolidated their bonds via ritualistic slumber parties, gorging on a diet of early Cocteau Twins dream-pop, the muddy bass twang of grunge and the sassy, honeyed...