This year marks the first since 2006 that BrooklynVegan SXSW parties are not happening in Austin this week. Our "Lost Weekend" shows -- two days at Mohawk, co-presented with our friends at Margin Walker and with help from our merch partner Awesome Merch-- were cancelled along with the rest of SXSW and every concert in existence pretty much. We never even got to announce the lineups, but we were about to reveal them. They included Protomartyr with Kelley Deal on bass, Soccer Mommy, Trail of Dead (whose new album we are actually digging a lot), Sudan Archives, Margaret Glaspy, Hop Along's Frances Quinlan, longtime favorites Land of Talk, who were playing on the day that we partner with M For Montreal along with fellow Canadians Corridor (for the second time in three years, though this time they're signed to Sub Pop) and Lido Pimienta. Also booked on our shows that are never happening: The Murder Capital, Dogleg, Ratboys, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, GRLwood, and more that are listed below.
Dry Cleaning and Black Country, New Road were both high on our list when planning got cut short. We were very excited about these shows, and we were of course excited to see Fennesz's ambient set in a church, Margo Price's set on a big stage, Jehnny Beth's debut US solo show, Japanese metal band Ningen Isu, Holly Herndon's performance in a Hexadome, possibly seeing Power Trip twice, and about the SXSW shows we hadn't even figured out were happening yet.
We also already posted a list of 14 bands we were excited to see at New Colossus, and most of those bands were also playing SXSW.
Here are 10 more artists we were excited to see at SXSW this year, a lot of them also on the BV party lineups (in alphabetical order):
UK artist beabadoobee is already selling out big venues and is supposed to open The 1975's North American tour (if it actually happens). Like a few of the newer artists on this list, she was set to have an extremely big SXSW, riding high off the buzz from the three EPs she released in 2019, and with an expectation that her first full length will appear in 2020. She's signed to Dirty Hit (The 1975, Wolf Alice, Pale Waves, etc), but she's a little different than what you might usually expect from the 1975/Dirty Hit circle. Her song called "I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus" is already iconic (and just one of her many popular songs), and she sounds clearly influenced by the '90s American indie scene that Malkmus was part of, but she knows how to take that influence, make it her own, and make it sound entirely modern.
Great Grandpa seriously leveled up last year from their grungy 2017 debut to the ambitious Four of Arrows, which was one of our favorite albums of 2019. The album can recall anything from ’90s alt-rock like Third Eye Blind and Alanis to early 2000s indie like Death Cab and Rilo Kiley to current stuff like Phoebe Bridgers, and fans of any or all of those artists should find something to like about it.
London's HMLTD were one of the UK's buzziest new bands back in 2016 (back when they were called Happy Meal Ltd), but they faced a handful of roadblocks and only released their debut album, West of Eden, this year. We recently said: "It might’ve been a rocky ride to get to this point, but the band persevered and West of Eden makes good on the promise of those early singles. Throughout its 15 songs, it sounds like a million different things — Franz Ferdinand’s dance-punk, the shiny mid 2000s goth rock revival of bands like The Bravery, the festival-ready synthpop of Cut Copy, the bedroom goth of underrated early 2010s band Diamond Rings, circus music, Spaghetti Western guitar, and tons more."
DC underground rapper Mavi first caught our ears last year due to a collaborative relationship with Earl Sweatshirt (Earl produced part of Mavi's Let the Sun Talk, Mavi guested on Earl's Feet of Clay, both were among our favorite rap albums of 2019), and any fans of Earl's experimental, collage-like production and stream-of-consciousness rhymes should find something to like about Mavi too. He's kept it going this year with a standout verse on Try Again by fellow Feet of Clay contributor Ovrkast, and we already can't wait to hear what he does next.
New Zealand indie folk singer Nadia Reid was one of our favorite discoveries of 2017, the year she released her sophomore album Preservation (which made our year-end list) and made her NYC debut, and she finally followed that album with Out of My Province earlier this month and it made us fall in love with her music all over again. It's her Spacebomb debut and has rich string/horn arrangements by the in-house Spacebomb team, and those arrangements do a lot for Nadia's sound, but it's still her voice and songwriting that drive these songs home.
UK band Petrol Girls’ post-hardcore/indie rock blend has made them one of the most talked-about new punk bands around -- just one listen to their great 2019 album Cut & Stitch and it’s no surprise to learn they’ve already landed tours overseas with Refused, Thrice, and La Dispute -- and until coronavirus got in the way, they seemed poised to finally leave their mark on US audiences this year. They’ve got an intense, hard-hitting sound, but they don’t shy away from clean production or a catchy chorus, making their attack just a little more approachable without sacrificing any of their raw power. And the intensity in the music is matched by powerful lyrics that the band themselves have deemed “raging feminist post-hardcore.” Raging indeed.
Porridge Radio were poised to be one of SXSW's breakout bands, as they had just released their fantastic second album, Every Bad, on Friday (which we love and which got "Best New Music" on Pitchfork), and the group were already well-known in the UK for their intense live shows. In addition to playing one of our day parties in Austin, we were presenting their NYC debut which was to happen right after SXSW. We'll just have to wait till the summer to see them, as they'll be -- fingers crossed -- touring with Car Seat Headrest. We're also still presenting their NYC live debut which is now scheduled for August.
Portrayal of Guilt
One of our favorite screamo releases of 2019 was Portrayal of Guilt's Suffering Is A Gift EP, and at the time, I (Andrew) said, "Suffering Is A Gift reminds me why I thought Portrayal of Guilt’s debut LP was an instant-classic the day it came out and it makes me fall in love with the band all over again." Since then, they released even more music -- a split with Slow Fire Pistol on Run For Cover -- and their contribution "The End of Man Will Bring Peace To This Earth" is another notch on their belt of great, impossible-to-pin-down songs. This one finds them at their heaviest, grindiest, and sludgiest, but when it comes to POG, you truly never know what side of them you're gonna get.
Not one but two of other favorite screamo releases of 2019 came from Pittsburgh's Shin Guard, who put out their own full-length 2020 and their split with For Your Health Death of Spring. They've got a genre-defying sound that dabbles in metal, emo, post-rock, flashy Fall of Troy-ish leads, and more, and they top it all off with an impassioned screamed/sung/spoken word mix that's got both great shout-along hooks and powerful lyrics. They're already working on a new album and it's one of our most anticipated albums at the moment, within heavy music or otherwise. Their (unofficial) SXSW show was an exciting bill all the way through too. Co-presented by Prosthetic Records and Mathcore Index, the show at Unit 108 was also set to feature For Your Health, Meth., Amygdala, Glassing, Olam, and DSGNS.
UK based group Vanishing Twin make a beguiling blend of tropicalia, krautrock and psych and we were big fans of their excellent 2019 album, Age of Immunology. (That title takes on new meaning, suddenly.) Much of the record was recorded live, with an arsenal of exotic instruments at their disposal (not to mention a dedicated flautist), so we knew they could replicate that magic on stage, but we were anxious to see how it would all play out. SXSW was to be the start of their first North American tour -- let's hope they'll be back.
Here's hoping we actually do see artists at SXSW 2021!