By the time you read this, Rocks Off will be winding his way toward Austin for his 15th SXSW in the last 16 years. Every year he wonders if this is going to be it, if his feet, his fingers and/or his liver will finally up and say "Uncle!" He wouldn't blame them one single solitary bit. SXSW is like any other hangover - the older you get, the longer it takes to recover. But, deep down, he knows that's not going to happen. He'll probably be 65 wheeling his walker down Red River, with a registered nurse pushing his IV and banana bag and feeding him pureed brisket from Stubb's. Although every year he's less and less interested in discovering whatever new band is being hyped to death by people who really ought to know better by now, the rush of seeing somebody you've never heard of before - and that you discovered all by yourself -absolutely blow you away never gets old. Without fail, that happens at least three or four times every SXSW, and that's what keeps him coming back again... and again... and again... and again... After the jump, a few picks for all you early birds who are already out there.
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Spain Colored Orange: Trumpet-spiced local indie-rockers update ELO next to the ELO at Austin's primary used-CD outlet. (Cheapo Discs, 914 N. Lamar, noon) The Mighty Stef: Recently in Houston opening for Flogging Molly, Dublin troubadour has a swashbuckler's heart and a country soul. (Saxon Pub, 1320 S. Lamar, noon) Fat Possum Party: Canadian wack-jobs King Khan & BBQ, Austin's Strange Boys and SXSW '09 must-see garage-poppers Wavves headline Mississippi label's party that threatens to burn Emo's down before the festival is even a few hours old. (Emo's, 603 Red River, noon) The Last Place You Look: Houston post-hardcore heroes rock the sweater racks at UT-side clothing chain. (Urban Outfitters, 2406 Guadalupe, 1 p.m.) Black Joe Lewis: Funky Austin R&B garage-rockers have no identity crisis on brand-new Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (Lost Highway) (Radio Room, 508 E. 6th St., 3:30 p.m.)