Every year at South By Southwest there’s a whole slew of high profile stars who drop in with big time shows, taking advantage Austin’s complete media saturation and keeping them firmly in the spotlight. When you hear complaints about SXSW getting too commercial and taking eyes away from smaller acts slogging through many shows a day and fighting to get heard, this is what they mean. In hip-hop, that seems especially true when in recent years Kanye, Jay Z, Snoop, and many more show up with much hype. Still, it’s always possible to find new acts, especially when you cannot get into those packed late night shows. And every year there’s a few names that rise above the fray: Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T. and Chance the Rapper have all had recent breakthrough sets at SXSW on their way to bigger things.
Last year, one of those names, for me, was Le1f, who I caught at NPR Music’s showcase at Stubb’s.
Kishi Bashi is one of my favorite new discoveries I’ve had while binging on music in anticipation of this year’s SXSW, I first heard Kishi Bashi on this week’s All Songs Considered, playing “Bright Whites” on his latest album 151a.
Here he is in a gorgeously shot video from Holy Cow Films playing “Manchester” off the same record.
Despite being in Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, you’d be surprised how hard it is to catch a full set by any one band. With so much to see, you’re constantly shuffling around looking for the next thing to fit into the schedule. And when coupled with all the work I was doing as part of NPR Music’s SXSW coverage, it was easy to miss something really good. Such was the case with The Joy Formidable, who performed several times at SXSW, including a way too short set at NPR Music’s SXSW day party at The Parish (listen and watch that here). I was so busy doing work and meeting people that it was over way too quickly.
Which all brings me to the point of all this. I decided I wanted to catch more from that band, so luckily they stopped by D.C. on Friday, March 25 (after SXSW) to play at Black Cat. Sufficed to say, it was totally great: loud, distorted and full of 90s rock energy.
Here are some photos I shot (along with opener Mona, who were impossibly generic):
We are less than a week away from South By Southwest and I am getting pumped. I’ll be there for the first time with NPR Music producing concerts, including some of my favorites of 2011: James Blake, Smith Westerns, Yuck, Raphael Saadiq, Colin Stetson, tUnE-yArDs, The Joy Formidable, The Antlers, WILD FLAG, Khaira Arby, Bright Eyes, Kurt Vile and a few more. I’ll also be filming a crapload of videos that we will shoot down there in the style of our Tiny Desk Concerts series.
And then in my not-so-copious free time I shall be trying to see as many bands as I can jampack in. Among the bands I’m most excited to see is my hands down favorite new-ish act of 2011, Yuck. My love has been well-documented both here and at NPR Music. So pardon me as I continue with my plugging. They just put out a cool video for their opening track “Get Away” and it’s, um, pretty cool. Also somewhat NSFW, so there’s that.