PMA's Guide to SXSW 2015

Here's what we're up to this week in Austin.

byGENEVIEVE OLIVER < @vittorioe >

It’s that time of year again: if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already spent hours agonizing about South by Southwest. How you’re getting to Austin, where you’re staying, what bands to see, what shitty bars to avoid, what shitty bars have cheap drinks, what food trucks to monopolize and which to stay far, far away from – it’s a yearly learning process. This’ll be my fifth SXSW and it’s still a major crapshoot. I still don’t think I’ve learned how to effectively establish priorities, except now I listen to my body’s craving for fruit and water and insistence on less cheese and even less beer. Well, I try to listen but sometimes attempt to shut it up with cheese and beer. So steel yourself for some questionable decisions, make sure you’ve packed your earplugs and your jorts, and let’s dive into the showcases we’re most psyched about this year, from the official ragers to the laid-back outdoor afternoons.

If you are in town early, you are seriously going to want to spend your St. Patrick’s Tuesday at Hotel Vegas, courtesy Hot Burrito touring – their amazing party features Thee Oh Sees, Destruction Unit, Iceage, and Sheer Mag, as well as my two Austin favorites, Spray Paint and Institute. For God’s sake, bring earplugs to this one, because all these bands will destroy your eardrums and you need to be able to hear passably until at least Friday morning. If you’re in the mood for wandering, Ground Control Touring/House of Vans has got a showcase at the Mohawk Tuesday evening, featuring Angel Olsen, Hudson Mohawke, and Torres, among others.


Wednesday, start off with Pitchfork’s always-great, always-diverse party at the Mohawk, featuring Courtney Barnett, Sophie, Speedy Ortiz, Viet Cong, and more. Or, if you went a little too hard on St. Patrick’s Day, take it easy at Waterloo Records – their Wednesday showcase boasts our favorite sets of the famous record store’s week-long run in their own parking lot – and as an added bonus, a visit out there will also give you the chance to go to the flagship Whole Foods. Starting at 4pm (giving you plenty of time to sleep in and recover), catch Moon Duo, Twin Peaks, and Will Butler. At night, our money’s on Ray Ban’s official showcase at the Empire Garage, featuring Rae Sremmurd and Madlib. Alternatively, stick around the Mohawk after Pitchfork’s party to catch Girlpool, Metz, Thee Oh Sees, and more at one of Vans’ many SXSW parties.

pitchfork sxsw parties


I won’t beat around the bush – follow my advice and your Thursday is going to be fucking nuts. Start it off at the Hype Hotel for Consequence of Sound’s yearly CoSigns party, featuring Twin Shadow, Natalie Prass, Viet Cong, and Twerps – just don’t binge on the free Taco Bell and Tito’s Vodka (if you do, prepare to accept the, um, consequences). If you like taking your afternoons easier, try the San Jose Hotel’s party in their parking lot, which features the Dodos and Hinds. Or, DoStuff x PBR has an insane, all-over-the-place lineup at the historic Scoot Inn, boasting sets from Iceage, Of Montreal, Ghostface and Raekwon, and more (seriously). And at night, just roll with me – Infinity Cat and Carpark are splitting the indoor and outdoor stages at the Swan Dive, which means Diarrhea Planet, JEFF the Brotherhood, Cloud Nothings, Speedy Ortiz, and more in the same building, and you should probably be there. Though if I had a time turner, Hermione Granger style, I would run over to Domino’s showcase at the Mohawk to catch the lo-fi Philly songwriter Alex G and/or the Irish noise foursome Girl Band. Then, I’d try my luck getting into PC Music’s party at Empire Garage, which features sets from the London label’s entire roster (yes, we mean QT, A. G. Cook, SOPHIE, Hannah Diamond, GFOTY, and more). And, don’t forget Gorilla vs. Bear’s party at the Hype Hotel, with Hinds and Chastity Belt kicking things off and Autre Ne Veut headlining. But because I don’t have a time turner, I think I’ll be at Austin Psych Fest’s Levitation party at Hotel Vegas, where I accidentally blissed out to Akron/Family in 2013 and got a lot of commentary from weird old guys. This year’s party features Weyes Blood, Merchandise, Moon Duo, Institute, Pharmakon, and more, ie. all my favorite bands in one place. Wish me luck retaining my hearing, though.

Onto Friday – that’s usually the day I feel most like sitting in one place, preferably someplace with free or cheap food and booze and lots of shade for lounging. Try a laid-back afternoon at Waterloo Records with Metz and Twerps, at Homeslice Pizza with Thee Oh Sees and Chastity Belt courtesy Third Man’s rolling record store, or at the San Jose Hotel with Gang of Four, Merchandise, and the Zombies (you can probably take your Cool Older Cousin who you’re staying with to this one). But if you’ve still got energy, Exploding in Sound is presenting a party with Stereogum at a bar called the Hole in the Wall – it’ll go all day and all night, also a great idea if you need a recuperative experience, and features Ava Luna, Girlpool, Krill, Speedy Ortiz, Vision Fortune, JEFF the Brotherhood, and about nine billion more great bands. And at night – I’ve been recommending Impose’s free, unofficial showcases at the old-timey whiskey bar Longbranch for years and they really are the best; for this Friday show they’ve teamed up with Don Giovanni Records, which means you’ll get sets from Screaming Females, Downtown Boys, Mitski, and more. I’d highly recommend trying to catch Spray Paint at 9:15pm at Goner Records’ Beerland party, though – the prolific local post-punk trio are one of my favorite bands, and they’re likely to make you subconsciously break out your weirdest dance moves.


Okay, Saturday – if you’re still with me, congratulations. Three full days at SXSW is a monumental human achievement. Pat yourself on the back and let’s dive in – drag your exhausted self, hopefully not having lost your earplugs, back over to Beerland for Chaos in Tejas’s daytime show. The bookers of the small Austin fest have their fingers on the pulse of awesome new stuff in punk and hardcore, and this party features Iceage, Lust for Youth, Sheer Mag, the Ukiah Drag, and more. If you want to take it a bit easier volume-wise, try the Wild Honey Pie’s party at Scoot Inn, featuring Torres, Prince Rama, San Fermin, and free cold brew, which by this point you will probably want to IV into your bloodstream. If you’re looking for the stand-in-one-place-all-day option, Burgermania’s trucking away at Hotel Vegas with LA’s Burger Records’ huge roster of garage-pop goodness, and there’s a yearly party called Liberation at the Liberty which features Mitski, Krill, Pity Sex, and more. If you’ve somehow managed to retain enough energy to do anything at night, don’t worry, so have a select few party-throwers – there’s NME's official showcase at Latitude 30 that features Honeyblood, Hinds, and Girl Band, or you can try Pigeons and Planes’ party at the Hype Hotel, which features a headlining set from Earl Sweatshirt and which we’ve dubbed Party Most Likely to Feature Special Guests.


Remember, plenty of showcases have yet to be announced (including BrooklynVegan’s daily afternoon parties, which boast flawless, on-the-pulse lineups every year) so try your best to leave your options open. As always, we recommend eating fruit (seriously – try it – you will thank me!) and drinking lots of water. If you’re underage, check out for the best all-ages picks – don’t worry, they exist. And don’t stress if you miss a band you wanted to see – they’re probably at SXSW hyping new material, so they’ll make it to your town on tour soon enough. Most of all, have fun, and don’t drink and drive. See you soon! Come say what’s up if you see me, but make sure you talk really loudly. We’ll be back a few times during SXSW week and then after the fest to recommend our favorites. Stay tuned.