In the past couple of weeks, Rocks Off's already-groaning email inbox has begun sagging even further with pings from random Australian bands looking for "coverage" for their SXSW appearances - we recommend a geography lesson, mates - and the usual onslaught of press releases on behalf of artists who have not added a Houston date on their way to or from Austin's annual music-biz bonanza. Yet.
Eventually, this got Rocks Off to thinking, "Hey, I wonder if SXSW has added anyone from Houston." The past couple of email blasts we got from SXSW HQ, full of partial leaks of this year's showcasing performers, there weren't any. Then we didn't get any blasts for a long time, so earlier today we went over to the Web site and had a look.
Turns out there will be some Houston flavor at this year's festival. Besides the dozens and dozens of local acts who don't even bother to apply but wind up playing house parties and non-sanctioned events around Austin anyway, that is. There aren't a whole lot of officially accepted Houston performers at SXSW 11 - yet - but as a whole, the list makes a pretty decent cross-section of the local scene.
Allow Rocks Off to demonstrate.
- The reunited band from the heyday of '60s psych label International Artists: "Hot Smoke and Sassafras" boys Bubble Puppy
- The fresh-faced roots-rockers who have demonstrated that, given the right circumstances, local indie bands can generate label interest: Brand-new New West signees Buxton
- The difficult, mesmerizing experimental/noise/art-rockers Pitchfork hasn't heard of yet: The Eastern Sea
- Bright, talented, ambitious underground rappers on that grind 24-7: Fat Tony and The Niceguys
- An overlord of non-underground swang-and-bang Houston rap: Swisha House guru Michael "5000" Watts
- The native-born guitar-slinger and standard--bearer for Houston's vast blues legacy, even though he doesn't live here anymore: Guitar Shorty
- The dense, challenging, female-powered indie-rock bands who are so damn talented we'll go ahead and claim them, even though they don't live here anymore: Ume and Lower Dens
- The difficult, mesmerizing experimental/noise/art-rockers Pitchfork has actually heard of, who still live here even though they probably don't want to: Indian Jewelry
- Punk rockers who don't need to change a thing, and probably never will, no matter how many people in or out of town are or aren't paying attention: Something Fierce
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So there you go Houston - your SXSW class of '11... so far. Rocks Off is a little surprised Buxton's new labelmates the Wild Moccasins and Robert Ellis aren't on the list, but there is still almost two months before the festival - thank God - and a lot of slots yet to be filled.
As for the non-Houston bands on the list, go look for yourself, but Rocks Off can tell you we saw a lot of folks with "tattoo names" - i.e. names these people are really, really going to regret in five to ten years - and SXSW 11 has a serious, serious case of '90s fever.
Marcy Playground? The Refreshments? World Party? See you in Austin.