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Top 20 Things We Need to See at SXSW Next Week

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Next week the Rocks Off Action Team goes to Austin for Ess Ex Ess Dubya and another four days of fun, sun, eavesdropping and live music. And swag, of the free kind, not the kind that Justin Bieber is still trying to make happen.

This year at SXSW, we're looking forward to many, many things, including the Sound City Players, Nick Cave and the Texas return of pioneering ska act The Specials, and, of course, we're also excited to see how our locals fare against the best (?) that the music-industry goons have to offer.

Obviously, dozens of Houston's own will be there hawking their musical wares. Keep an eye out for an extensive listing soon here on Rocks Off of when and where you can see Houston bands in and around SXSW.

Also, we sincerely hope that Depeche Mode or David Bowie do not decide to throw surprise concerts. Not because we hate them, but because we don't want to anger you folks back in Houston.

Tenacious D Jack Black and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D are coming to Austin to premiere Ghost Ghirls, a 12-part Web series about two really bad female ghost hunters, played by Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci. They aren't bad because they are girls, they just have no idea what they're doing.

Molly Shannon, Val Kilmer, Black and Jason Schwartzman are also a part of the series, which is produced by Black's Electric Dynamite production company. The D will be playing a concert at the watch party on Wednesday night at the Yahoo! venue.

Dave Grohl's Sound City Players As announced just this past Monday afternoon, Dave Grohl and his Sound City Players will be playing Thursday, March 14, at Stubb's. The band features Grohl himself and (deep breath) Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, Rick Springfield, Lee Ving of Fear, Rick Nielsen, Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Chris Goss and Alain Johannes. The Meat Puppets are the cherry on top as opening act.

Grohl is also the keynote speaker at SXSW, earlier that afternoon. As Bruce Springsteen was the veritable boss of SXSW 2012, Grohl is set to rule this one in his own way.

Green Day With lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong now out of rehab and telling all to Rolling Stone's David Fricke this week, Green Day is set to make its SXSW debut on Friday, March 15, at ACL Live.

That same night they will also be premiering Broadway Idiot, about their American Idiot disc's Broadway incarnation, and the studio documentary ¡Cuatro!, which follows the band's recent 37-song three-album turn.

It's good to hear that Armstrong is apparently clean and clearheaded now, and I am actually curious to see what is next for Green Day, even though I wasn't too terribly high on ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! or even ¡Tré!. But then again, not many were.

In the RS profile, Armstrong says that at the height of his pill addiction, his backpack "sounded like a giant baby rattle," and that he had been trying to go largely sober since 1997 and the Nimrod album. According to Armstrong, it was also at a gig in Austin where he began drinking to get the courage to hit larger stages. Here's hoping he sticks to root beer this time around.

Keep in mind that next year Green Day's Dookie turns 20 years old, so an anniversary tour could also be in the cards, as Armstrong hinted.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds are playing Wednesday, March 13, on a bill with newly crowned indie wonders Alt-J, returning champs Yeah Yeah Yeahs and jangly Mexican quartet Cafe Tacvba. Entry for this one is determined by a lottery system for SXSW badge and wristband holders. Here's hoping Rocks Off gets inside for you. That sounds dirty.

The Specials Yes, reunited Second Wave ska act The Specials are back and coming to Austin for a handful of showcases and parties. Sadly, the band -- sans co-founder Jerry Dammers -- will not also be coming to Houston. Fellow influential skankers The Skatalites will also be in Austin during SXSW, so it would behoove those of you with a two-tone checkered past and credentialed present to try to catch both of these groups while you still can.

American Sharks I have had the Sharks' debut album on my hard drive since their last show here in Houston this past December opening for The Sword, and I have been waiting for a good excuse to rave about it. The band, fronted by Mike Hardin, a.k.a. Roky Moon, turned in a nine-cut slab of coke-y party-metal of the highest order, produced by the Sword's Bryan Richie (who also handles bass). Here Hardin seems somehow more at ease and comfortable than he did with BOLT!, if that is possible.

The Sharks are playing a Burger City showcase/day party 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Hotel Vegas, followed by their official showcase on Thursday night at the Velveeta Room for Pau Wau Records. On Saturday it's back to Hotel Vegas for Burgermania II, then they venture back to Sixth Street ground zero for a 1 a.m. set at the Jackalope for Volcom's annual drunky to-do.

Iggy & the Stooges at the Mohawk Okay, this one happens on Wednesday night, and that means there's good chance (call Vegas now) that the Mohawk may not be standing on Thursday morning. Ig and the Stooges will be premiering material from the upcoming Ready to Die LP.

Not In The Face Austin punk-country-blues act Not In The Face became a trio this past year with the inclusion of Michael Anthony Gibson, who joined his former White Rhino drummer Wes Cargal in the group, which is fronted by Jonathan Terrell. The group is playing three times so far during SXSW, including the Monday-afternoon Do512 Day Party, the Thursday-afternoon Austin Angers Day Party, and an official showcase on Saturday night at the Blackheart with Pompeii and Swedish rockers Immanu El.

Flaming Lips Those complaining about not having SXSW creds should rest easy knowing that the Flaming Lips will be playing a free show at Auditorium Shores with My Morning Jacket's Jim James and the Divine Fits.

The band is also playing the night before, March 14, at the Belmont, which is pretty small by Lips standards. A Year in the Life of Wayne's Phone, a movie shot entirely on lead singer Wayne Coyne's cell phone, will also see a debut at SXSW.

The Lips' new album, The Terror, continues along the same course as 2009's Embryonic, further falling down a jam rabbit hole. Fans of their softer melodic work (this ain't Yoshimi) may find it challenging, but if you are open to Coyne and his Okies aurally flipping your wig, The Terror will most certainly do so.

The following is a list of other non-local bands that we hope to gander upon sometime between Wednesday and Thursday:

  • Missions (Scarier Daft Punk?)
  • Reignwolf (One-man Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.)
  • JFK Didn't Even See It Coming (Yes, real band.)
  • Corb Lund (Duh.)
  • Leogun (Every SXSW has one of these.)
  • Skinny Lister (Our intern Angelica says great things.)
  • Richard Thompson (The British bard has a new album, Electric, on New West; Chris G. put this in to make our list an even 20.)
  • Skating Polly (Opened for Band of Horses here in Houston; Sleater-Kinney's illegimate children.)
  • Bad Cop (Great name.)
  • Kay Leotard (Remind me of PJ Harvey and the Heartless Bastards.)
  • La Migra (Any from White Rhino's beach-punk-garage thing.)

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