The stages are down; the attendees are gone; and Sixth Street has been cleansed as much as humanly possible. SXSW Music 2017 is officially a memory. And from a local standpoint, the Austin SXSW Class of 2017 was an exceptional one.
To celebrate last week’s musical mayhem, we’re celebrating the best of the best like a high school yearbook would. Time to dust off that letter jacket, grab your backpack and toss some AA batteries into your Discman. Welcome to The Austinot’s SXSW Music 2017 Superlative Awards!
Biggest Overachiever: Hunter Sharpe
When putting together a SXSW schedule, you expect bands to play multiple times during the week. Four or five gigs is not uncommon. But when I saw Hunter Sharpe playing a 12:30 Friday gig followed by a 2:30 performance at a Black Fret showcase, my eyes widened. Plus a gig at Champions on 4th Street. Plus their official showcase. All told, this brash, evocative and highly energic rock band played 12 shows during the festival.
Most Likely Two Minutes Away From Being Famous: MISSIO
Getting to the big stage at SXSW doesn’t guarantee a stellar performance. It’s what you do on that stage that matters. During an amazing 9:30 set on the Pandora stage, MISSIO proved they belong with the big boys. The larger venue gave their brand of brooding, evocative electro-rock more space to pound, and the result was fantastic. I suspect MISSIO will be playing larger venues sooner rather than later, so catch them while you can.
Best Sense of Humor: Kevin Russell of Shinyribs
A legend within the Austin music scene, Kevin Russell knows how to put on a show. During a quick 45-minute set at The Townsend, Shinyribs danced with a patron, started a conga line, played a ukulele solo and did a booty dance. The crowd, full of old school Austinites who remember the “good old days” of SX, cheered every note. This is required listening/watching for anybody who claims to love Austin music.
Surprise Star: Go Fever
My SXSW schedule always looks insane. For a four-hour block of time, I might have 12 shows favorited. The idea is to see where the evening takes me, making sure to try something new. This was the case when I wandered into Swan Dive to check out a set from the surf-pop darlings who compose Go Fever. A tightly wound rope of simple guitar licks, up-tempo rhythm and breezy vocals, Go Fever brought light and bounce to the early evening showcase.
Most Theatrical: Leopold and His Fiction
It’s tough to create an elaborate stage show in a small venue (unless your name is Mobley). Local bands depend on presence and energy to elevate their sets. Leopold and His Fiction pulled off exactly that during a performance at the Black Fret SXSW showcase. Combining a glam rock aesthetic with a crunchy 70’s rock sound, Leopold makes clubs feel like stadiums. Also a frontrunner for the “Most Likely Two Minutes Away From Being Famous” award.
Biggest Life of the Party: Tomar & the FC’s
One o’clock in the afternoon is brutally early for SXSW artists, especially when their last gig was a mere 12 hours earlier. But nobody told Tomar & the FC’s. Bursting with energy, power and roof-raising electricity, this high-energy soul group cleared my late night cobwebs with explosive, body-shaking groove.
Class President: The Bright Light Social Hour
When I’m seeing a band, I think of two things: where are they now, and where do I project them to go. Some artists stay small and local, while others explode into the ether like a supernova. The Bright Light Social Hour is on a collision course to the stratosphere. Expressive head music funneled through laser-focused rock arrangements, Bright Light has the chops to back up their Austin indie cred. And if their official showcase at The Main was any indication, Austin fans are in total agreement. Keep your phones on vibrate and your ringtones loud, Bright Light. Major labels should be calling any minute.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Who do you think deserves a SXSW Music 2017 Superlative Award?