Noon, Saturday, March 17, at Rice University (Main Quad), 6100 Main, ods2012.ktru.org. Free.
Saturday will be KTRU's 21st Spring Outdoor Show overall, but first since it left the FM airwaves last April. Luckily, the beloved Rice student station is doing just fine, thanks to the miracle of HD radio (on 90.1 KPFT FM-2) and the Internet at ktru.org. Like Real Estate and Michael Cera's band Mister Heavenly last year, this year's lineup can stand shoulder to shoulder with any SXSW day party or showcase a couple of hundred miles to the west. Among this year's headliners, Brooklyn's Chairlift started out with the idea of making music for haunted houses and draws heavily from electronic pop and R&B; Jersey's punky Titus Andronicus is the picture of a contemporary college-rock band; and Portland's the Thermals still have a lot of emo in them even after more than a decade and five albums. Braided boss rapper Slim Thug heads up the local contingent, alongside indie-pop darlings Wild Moccasins, former Houstonian Jana Hunter's art-rockers Lower Dens and brazen punks The Energy. And KTRU being KTRU, it wouldn't be an outdoor festival without the student battle of the bands winner (here a group called Jesus, the Crazy, and the Bad Kids) and a couple of acts bound to leave many listeners scratching their heads in bewilderment — "vegetable hardcore" group the Demonic Hen (they really don't like chicken) and SwaraRagaLaya, an ensemble that plays the Southern Indian style of classical music known as Carnatic.