sxsw 2011 The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen

I just miraculously returned from Austin, Texas somehow in one piece, home of the annual SXSW music convention, where I was able to catch about 40 acts in a span of 7 days.
aaronaxelsen1 The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron AxelsenHere are my top 20 shows of SXSW 2011:

(all the pictures used in this blog were shot from my iPhone at the actual showcases)


the band i saw for the very first time -while DJing at Bimbo’s many years ago opening for the UK band DOVES- played to an estimated 30,000 people on Thursday night at Auditorium shores park in lovely Austin and belted out a smashing 17 song set that included an explosive version of LAST NITE during their encore…. literally. a blinding fireworks display lit up the warm Texan night during The Strokes last song which also featured an exuberant Hank Hill in the mosh pit.

ellie The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen2. ELLIE GOULDING

 seeing chart topping UK pop diva Ellie Goulding was my #2 highlight of this year’s SXSW music festival as she performed an electrifying set to a capacity crowd at the Levi’s Fader Fort party. Ellie comes to San Francisco for a sold-out popscene show on April 14 before she heads down to dazzle those in the desert @ Coachella

3. KIDS OF 88

New Zealand indie/synthpop party kids KILLED it with an infectious 40 minute energetic set that had all the Austin hipsters and industry players, including your favorite blogger of all-time Perez Hilton, going crazy on the dancefloor. see Kids oF 88 make their sf debut THIS Thursday, March 24 @ Rickshaw stop with DJ sets by me and Miles the DJ, plus Aussie electro-punks Art Vs Science

joy form The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen4. THE JOY FORMIDABLE

UK shoegazers deftly fuse together the wall of sonic guitar feedback ala My Bloody Valentine, with the pop sensibilities of Metric to create a really cool live experience. Joy Formidable return to SF on April 14 as they take over the legendary Bottom of the Hill before they, too, head to Coachella


i normally don’t hit up the platinum selling mega rock shows @ sxsw, as i’m primarily their to see up-and-coming and emerging acts in the Austin clubs, but i couldn’t pass up the opportunity on Tuesday night to catch the mighty Foo’s in action at the outdoor Stubbs theater… and it was arguably the best Foo’s show i’ve ever seen! the band played with so much tenacity, passion and urgency that it almost felt like 1995 all over again


f*ck i love this band! first time i ever saw them was opening up for THE XX at Great American Music Hall a few years ago and they just keeping getting better and better with age. Caught them at the Filter day party and was thrilled to hear this NY electronic/space rock act break out 2 new songs from a forthcoming EP in the making. Phantogram play a sold-out show @ the independent on April 15

brother2 The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen7. BROTHER
whoa! kinda reminded me of the first time i saw Oasis at Bottom Of The Hill or Arctic Monkeys @ popscene! new UK upstarts lived up to the MOUNTAIN of press and hype with a cavalier, yet confident set that paid homage to britpop progenitors like Blur and the aforementioned Oasis, with a splash of late ’70s brit mod-punk ala The Jam and Buzzcocks. catch these young NME coverstars @ Rickshaw Stop on Thursday, April 28 as they make their SF debut

mc rut1 The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen8. MIDDLE CLASS RUT

 MC rut rule. period. Sacramento’s red hot two piece, that still remind me of a mash-up of Deftones and early Janes Addiction, had the SxSw revelers rockin’ out with Shiner Bock’s in hand at a packed venue as the boys busted out all their Central Valley anthems from the fantastic debut No Name No Color album . Middle Class Rut open for 30 Seconds To Mars in San Jose on Friday, April 8



the British love the SxsW music festival almost as much as the local Austin hotel managers (125,000 people convened on Austin this year for the interactive, film and music festival, damn) and each year the Brits send over in droves across the Atlantic a plethora of their finest in emerging talent. London’s The Vaccines, whose debut album just crashed the UK charts at #4 this week, played a killer show on Wednesday at the Filter party and subsequently, landed at #9 on my top 20 chart


naked and famous The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen10. THE NAKED AND FAMOUS

 New Zealand indie scenesters and the hottest Kiwi export since Flight of The Conchords were one of this year’s ‘must see’ new bands @ SxSw and headlined a sold-out Wednesday night showcase at a newly opened Austin venue called The Phoenix (holds about 1500) the five piece played a quick 35 minute set, which included the smash hit YOUNG BLOOD and won over the crowd that included Mr. Jack White.


sounds The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen11. THE SOUNDS

Swedish new wave revivalists absolutely DESTROYED the purevolume party on Tuesday night, which i had the pleasure of DJing at, with a solid and sassy set that included many favorites, like TONY THE BEAT, LIVING IN AMERICA and SONG WITH A MISSION, coupled with several new selections from their forthcoming excellent 4th studio album, SOMETHING TO DIE FOR, which drops on March 29


limos1 The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen12. THE LIMOUSINES

one of 25+ Bay Area acts that made the pilgrimage to Austin this year and San Jose’s THE LIMOUSINES thankfully emerged victoriously and relatively unscathed after playing an astonishing 8 shows @ SxSW 2011! (plus a 600 mile roundtrip road trip to play a music festival on Tuesday in the middle of Texas) I caught them at a party i spun at on Saturday night @ Mohawk with WASHED OUT, RAC and the legendary DJ PREMIER of Gang Star on the decks. catch the Limo’s on April 20 as they headline the Independent (Alternative Press just blogged that the LIMO’S were their top ‘breakthrough’ act of SXSW 2011!)


Canadian electro-disco heads Chromeo played at some SxSW interactive corporate party on Sunday night and had all the Silicon Valley techies going absolutely crazy on the dancefloor and blissfully forgetting about the crash of 2000


new Brooklyn outfit that i saw for the very first time and loved their set! playing a sold-out show this Wednesday @ the independent as they open up for FOSTER THE PEOPLE


founded by an ex-member of All-American Rejects, this new-ish Oklahoma 5-piece create some of the most bittersweet and haunting music you’ll find today from the American underground indie scene. released on TBD records, same US label for RADIOHEAD, this was the third time I’ve caught OTHER LIVES and they performed a breathtaking set. for fans of BAND OF HORSES, IRON & WINE, MERCURY REV, WOLF PARADE.

washed out The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen16. WASHED OUT

dreamy and atmospheric, yet dancefloor friendly electronic nu-gazers out of Georgia JUST singed a new label deal with storied Sub Pop Records. Washed Out played with a full 5-piece band which was pretty mind-blowing, i ain’t gonna lie


another new band that i was pleasantly introduced to at SxSW this year would be the Pacific Northwest indie rock outfit LONELY FOREST, which also became Death Cab For Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla’s FIRST signing to his newly launched Trans Record label

oh land The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen18. OH LAND

Danish electropop rising star OH LAND and former dancer for the Swedish Royal Ballet (sigh… big time crush, heh) put on a dynamic performance at the Fader Fort day party on Wednesday and she’s definitely recommended for fans of LYKKE LI, ROBYN, YELLE and LADYHAWKE. catch OH LAND this Saturday at the Fox Theater in Oakland opening up for 80s synth legends OMD!

19. SCARS ON 45

another new first-rate UK band on the rise that i caught from across the pond!


THEE de jour blog band of the moment from NYC played at Austin’s Buffalo Billiards on Thursday evening and featured a two-hour wait for entrance. Pains Of Being Pure at Heart create lo-fi, twee pop gems that are reminiscent of so many great underground bands from back in the day, like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Wedding Present, The Smiths and even Belle & Sebastian. they play a sold-out show @ Great American Music Hall on April 19 and drop the critically acclaimed new album BELONG on March 22 on East Bay independent label Slumberland Records (a label that i once interned for back in the ’90s)



limos flyer2 The Top 20 Shows of SXSW 2011: By Aaron Axelsen

Comments (2)
  1. edwin mcdonald says:

    what about beta state.

  2. patrick from alamo says:

    Dude, all these bands are awesome. Hopefully washed out can find their way out here, would be killer!!!

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