We are now sitting on 11 days and counting until Rocks Off's home away from becomes a hotel room off 4th Street and our stomachs become lined with breakfast tacos and free beer. Officially, SXSW's music segment starts on March 17 and we are now standing down the barrel of the final weeks before the storm hits. Or should we say, we drive right into the storm. In the past week we learned influential power pop group Big Star will be making an appearance at the festival. Just this past year the band's early seminal works were reissued, including No. 1 Record and Radio City. If it wasn't for Alex Chilton and Big Star, we probably wouldn't have had things like the Replacements or even the Jonas Brothers. We are only half-kidding about the J-Bros. Aside from Big Star, this week SXSW also announced plenty of other biggies to the showcase roster. "Queen Of Rockabilly" Wanda Jackson is headlining an Oklahoma-centric showcase over at The Copa. Jackson just finished work this past fall on a comeback record of sorts with none other than Jack White. It's said to be a return to her rocking roots, and the first fruits of their work together have already been released on a 7" on White's Third Man label.
Ray Davies of the Kinks is playing March 18 at La Zona Rosa, debuting some of his newer solo work and closing out the set backed by the 88 on some of the Kinks' faster and aggressive stuff. A full-scale Kinks reunion has been in the offing for a few years now, and hopefully a good reception during SXSW will be a catalyst for something big.
SXSW is known for the free booze that flows like well, free booze, but if you need something to soak up all the demon liquid, we found a site that will point you to all the free food lurking around Austin that week. This site won't steer you wrong, seeing that the first listing we saw was for free funnel cakes. After having to buy our funnel cakes like a schlub at RodeoHouston, free sounds just fine to us.
Among the big indie names we discovered this past week that were added, our standouts were Crystal Castles and Jeff the Brotherhood. We first saw the Castles on the roof of a club at SXSW 2008 and were hooked on their cataclysmic sound (and lead singer Alice Glass). Their set at this past year's Fun Fun Fun Fest at Waterloo Park was seizure-inducing, but well worth waiting in the rain for. Jeff The Brotherhood is a two-piece indie-metal act who doesn't sound that far off from the late Death From Above 1979 or current It Band No Age. They played Mango's a few weeks back on the same night as the Balaclavas album release party, forcing us to make a mild Sophie's Choice-style decision. We will be checking them out in Austin for sure. Barring any surprise Soundgarden sets and whatnot...
In weird '00s pop news, someone is letting the Scissor Sisters and Macy Gray try their hand at the music game again as well during SXSW. We sort of thought the Sisters went out with Queer Eye For The Straight Guy in 2005, but here they are again. They had some pretty solid pop tunes, like a weird electro-clash ABBA. As for Macy Gray, we thought she long ago was on some VH-1 rehab show or something, but alas, she will be in Austin with us. Let's see what she's got going on now. Yep, still warbles like a drunken Muppet. We'll still check her out though.
Lastly, make sure you are following Rocks Off on Twitter during SXSW week. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll see that we truly won't sleep for four days. When bands are even playing in ice-cream shops, sleep seems frivolous. Plus, we sometimes use cuss words and have sass mouth on it, so that's always fun.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.