Words & Photos by Cher Dunn
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, SXSW is the ultimate festival for new music discovery. Bands from all over the world take over Austin and play all day and all night for an entire week, for a music fan it’s heaven. It’s also overwhelming. Between official and unofficial showcases, it’s insane trying to keep up with who is playing where and what time- this year I got so overwhelmed I laughed about how I was probably not going to see anyone at all.
But when I stopped trying to seek out bands and just focused on going to venues I liked and meeting up with new people I met, I found the gold mine of shows. Instead of seeing bands I’ve already seen and loved, I found so many new bands that I’m obsessed with and I couldn’t be more thankful. Here are a few of those bands:
I was lucky enough to discover Mint Field after running into bassist Andrea Villa at several shows and around Austin almost every day I was there. Austin is a big city, so this is extremely rare over the course of SXSW. We both took it as a sign and became fast friends, she told me her band was playing on my last night in town so I made sure to be there- and I am so glad I was. Mint Field is a band of absolute babes from Tijuana. The band played several shows during the week of SXSW and their ethereal vocals, dark, mesmerizing and radiant instrumentals had the entire room mystified. Everyone was silent, intently watching, and dancing as these girls effortlessly had 100 people floating on a cloud. Their set seemed to go by in a blink of an eye and everyone needed to know who they were and where they were from after the show. They are Mint Field, they are from Tijuana and they are your new favorite band. Mint Field will be playing Marvin Festival in Mexico City on May 18th and DIY or Die on May 26th in Metepec, Mexico.
Zane Lowe was one of the featured speakers at SXSW, and as he is one of my favorite humans and radio DJs alive. I got to the convention center early and made sure to sit in the front row. To my surprise, Capyac set up to play a mini-set before his keynote began. Within the first 30 seconds of their song, I started looking around the room…was I the only one seeing/hearing this? This band is amazing…they never even said their name. They just started immediately slaying to an awkward room of people sitting 50 feet away from them.
Their songs were an epic mixture of funk, disco, house, electronic and hip hop. I felt too awkward to stand but all I really wanted to do was rush the stage and start a massive dance party. Instead, I opted to dance in my chair and not get kicked out before Zane Lowe even showed face. I did run up to them as they quickly packed up to get their name and where they were playing for the rest of the week. I saw them play on a roof later in the week where a massive dance party did commence. In fact, people were stopping in the streets trying to look up and see where this Studio54 reenactment was taking place. This Austin-based band gave me the dance workout of a lifetime and made me a fan for just as long.
One of my favorite queens in the music industry, Jamie from Redbull Records tipped me on The Aces. These badass babes have been slaying stages since they were in middle school- no joke. Now they were debuting their new music at SXSW, including a slot at Rachel Ray’s coveted Feedback House. The Aces reminded me of an all-female The 1975 – and I love The 1975. Their music is addicting, uplifting, fun, and will get your heart beating and body moving. Watching their live performance was electric- these girls truly love and live for making music and you can tell as they interact on stage with each other and the crowd. Once you listen to their songs you won’t be able to stop, but that’s okay because you won’t want to.
When I heard Royal Trux was reuniting to play some shows at SXSW, I was stoked beyond reason. I’ve seen Jennifer Herrema play in her band Black Bananas so I already knew our world was about to get rocked. She is one of the most badass women I’ve ever seen exist and seeing her on stage reflects that. She truly oozes punk rock out of every pore. My housemate watched 30 seconds of their set before needing to know everything about her and Royal Trux. Mix that with the slaying guitars of Neil Hagerty and you get a rock’n’roll heart attack (in the best way possible).
Leopold and His Fiction
Austin-natives Leopold and His Fiction, led by Daniel Leopold, lit up the night with their earth-shattering, heavy rock’n’roll jams. Playing (or should I say slaying) songs from their new record, Darling Destroyer, Leopold and his Fiction garnered the full attention of everyone in a 5 block radius of the venue. With an electric performance of classic rock tunes, watching Leopold and His Fiction felt special, like watching one of Queen’s first shows. You felt like you were in on a secret that won’t be kept secret for much longer. Don’t miss out on seeing this band at a venue that isn’t stadium, because as long as Leopold and His Fiction keep making music, that’s where they are headed. Catch Leopold and His Fiction playing Solstice Festival on June 16th in Austin!
I don’t necessarily want to say ‘save the best for last’ but Tennis System literally rocked my entire world. At SXSW you walk… a lot, and by the end of the day finding a seat anywhere at a venue seems like a blessing. So when I found a bench side stage at a venue I thought, ‘Cool, I’ll chill here and watch the show since I don’t know who is playing next’.
I watched as Tennis System set up their equipment, completely unaware that my life was about to change. Within the first three chords of the first song, I leaned over to my friend and told her I needed to get a closer look, and ran over to the front of the stage like Seth and Evan trying to catch a glimpse of Kerry Hutchens’s “warlocks” in Superbad. I spend the rest of their set in complete awe of these three megababes playing this show like their lives counted on it, even though it was probably their 8th show that day.
I’m pretty sure their my mouth was agape the entire set, and I’m also pretty sure the drool emoji was created for describing their band. I felt the bass and drums shaking through my veins as their guitars took my mind on a supersonic ride to heaven and back. The sweet, story-telling lyrics hit me on a soul-level. My friend tried to tell me she was going to get a beer and I’m pretty sure I muttered ‘Cya’ while trying not to take my eyes from the stage- I wasn’t going anywhere. I found my new favorite band. Hopefully you found yours now too.
Leaving on a plane in a few hours after the show, I downloaded and listened to their albums Technicolour Blind and Teenagers on repeat all the way home (and for weeks after). Their albums are absolute classics and never get old. You can see Tennis System live next at Echoplex in LA on August 6th!
TheWaster.com | Austin