There's nothing quite like South by Southwest.
• The music festival is a beer- and breakfast taco-fueled celebration of music, and it will hit Austin, Texas, again this week.
• Abbreviated as SXSW, the music portion follows interactive and film events and will feature thousands of bands performing in hundreds of venues for both officially sanctioned showcases and other unofficial, but equally well-attended, parties and events. The festival includes big names such as Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, indie buzz bands including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and relative unknowns such as Waxahatchee. (Yes, that is a real band. We didn't make it up.)
• The 27th annual festival also will include more than a dozen artists from Nebraska, as well as others with ties to the area, who head to Austin to show off for fans, press and labels. • Dozens of fans, photographers, designers and record label workers from Nebraska also will travel to the fest for fun, tunes, sun and free food (and beer and vodka and so, so many free Doritos).— Staff writer Kevin Coffey
Chris Dinan, 27, of Omaha
SXSW is a brand new experience for Chris Dinan, even though he's well aware of the festival. For years, he's been hearing about it from friends who attend and now he finally gets to go.
“Seeing everyone last year talking about it, I vowed that would be the last time I wouldn't go,” he said. “The main thing I'm looking forward to is the diversity of everything — seeing a punk rock band in the middle of the day and seeing some country folk in the evening and then ending with some electronic act.”
With the help of websites, emails and friends, Dinan has planned out his schedule with house parties, backyard BBQs, big stages and artists such as electronica artist Flume, indie pop band Rhye and rapper Kendrick Lamar.
“I'm not going to hit everything, but I have my acts that I'm really looking forward to and I'm prioritizing around those.”
Chevy Anderson, 23, of Omaha
Is Chevy Anderson excited for SXSW?
“Yeah, man,” he said, before adding, “I don't know what to expect.”
Anderson, a photographer, will document the festival with photos and videos for HearNebraska.org and plans to hit the Saddle Creek Records showcase and quite a few other parties. He's also excited to see Kendrick Lamar and poppy rockers Local Natives.
“I wanted to go in the past, but I just didn't have anybody that I knew that was going. I just stayed here and didn't go,” he said. “A lot of people say it's a lot of fun. You can get free food, free booze and all that. I'm trying to find those spots so I can capitalize and not spend a lot of money.”
He added, “I probably won't get too much sleep.”
These prominent punkers from Portland, Ore., recently signed to Saddle Creek and they're ready to unleash new songs from “Desperate Ground,” their coming album about a man, his sword and his destructive path.
The My Morning Jacket frontman will play his solo material from his latest, “Regions of Light and Sound of God.” Hopefully, he'll work in some MMJ stuff, too.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
As fans eagerly anticipate “Mosquito,” the indie band's first album since 2009's “It's Blitz!,” the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will give people a peek at the new material at SXSW.
With “Modern Vampires of the City” out in May, the band promises to move beyond its preppy image to a more raw sound.
The Scottish folk rock band released its latest album “Pedestrian Verse” to rave reviews and will play Lincoln shortly after SXSW.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
With “Thrift Shop,” this rapper-producer pair is everywhere from the radio to “Saturday Night Live.” Appearances in front of all the music press and fans at SXSW can only help.
THE BIG GUNS
Dave Grohl and the Sound City Players
Grohl — the former Nirvana drummer, current Foo Fighters frontman and director of the “Sound City” documentary — will deliver the festival's keynote speech. He's an engaging guy who knows everything there is to know about music, so his speech should be fascinating. Grohl will also perform with his Sound City Players, the group that includes the Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, Krist Novoselic and others.
Tickets are limited for the show, which is sure to be one of the biggest at the festival. We'll be there to cover it.
A film, “Quatro,” that documents the making of Green Day's latest trilogy of albums — “Uno,” “Dos” and “Tre” — will debut at SXSW's film portion and the band will follow with an “Austin City Limits” live performance. Tickets will be nearly impossible to track down.
The Flaming Lips
The Oklahoma weird rockers will play the festival's biggest stage, Auditorium Shores. It should be a good preview for the band's upcoming album, “The Terror.”
When more than a quarter-million people descend on a city, it has an impact. Last year's SXSW brought $190 million to the city of Austin, according to Consequence of Sound music blog. This year, organizers expect the fest's economic impact to surpass $200 million.
Weird name, we'll grant you that. But Waxahatchee bandleader Katie Crutchfield has moved beyond punk to reflective, acoustic tunes about the highs and (mostly) lows of being a 20-something.
Cronin's “Shout It Out” starts as a sunny power pop song and quickly ramps into a sing-along chorus of “Do I shout it out?/Do I let it go?/Do I even know/what I'm waiting for?” We like it.
These L.A. punks do the classic punk stuff: Fast tunes about a fast life involving being drunk, broke and living in the moment. Their quick-hitting style will make for some fun shows.
One part DJ duo and other part performance art team (dressed as geishas, naturally) is fascinating — both to dance to and to sit back and watch. The troupe is led by Nina Barnes (of Montreal) and Orenda Fink (Azure Ray).
Doe Eyed, a Lincoln design studio, will showcase its art (which includes a lot of screen-printed gig posters) once again at Flatstock, the annual poster exhibition at SXSW. Eric Nyffeler of Doe Eyed can bring in revenue by selling posters, cards and drink koozies, and he likes engaging with customers (who often purchase his posters from all over the country) as well as his fellow designers.
“Even if you factor in all the poster artists across the globe, it's still a very small and surprisingly tightly knit community. Everyone I've met in the poster scene is hilarious and talented and helpful, even though we're technically all in competition. It's great that we have a few events a year where we all get together to hang out and talk shop,” Nyffeler said.
Omaha rapper Jimmy Hooligan is co-hosting an unofficial SXSW party full of Midwest rappers (including Omahans Pflames and Holla Cron & Sara C, and Lincolnites Toppas Wit Choppas) as well as rap battles, giveaways and an open mic. The party will be full of people hoping to catch some non-mainstream hip-hop. The party, at a hip-hop and dance club called the Eastern, isn't an official SXSW event, but unofficial showcases are often popular and make for some of the best festival moments.
Mixtapes first got Kendrick Lamar noticed, but his major-label debut, “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” was a hit. The album follows a teenager through the gang lifestyle of Compton, Calif., and both critics and fans adore the record.
“It will be cool to see Kendrick Lamar,” said Chevy Anderson, one of the music fans attending from Omaha. “I just kind of got onto him, and I saw his live performances and he's using instruments and not just playing to the beat track. I think that would be pretty cool to see.”
While people go to SXSW for music, you always get some interesting and fashionable looks when you put thousands of musicians, music fans, writers and artists in one city at the same time. Bloggers and designers are on the lookout for what people are wearing, and many attendees like to show off.
Omaha-based online fashion retailer Esoteric Velvet has a festival collection aimed at female SXSW attendees that includes tops, dresses, skirts and even an acid-washed jumper.
The Neighborhood, which takes place at 2nd Street District in Austin, is a four-day fashion event that was formerly part of the festival but is now a separate event that runs concurrent to SXSW.
THE LITTLE GUYS
They made one of the most universally acclaimed records last year. Add the fact that the duo plays fist-pumping fast rock that you can sing along to and you realize their shows are not to be missed.
Jenny Owen Youngs
Full of pure glee and energy, Youngs will get just about anyone moving. Try listening to “Love For Long” and avoid tapping your feet. You won't be able to do it.
Fresh off releasing its sophomore album, “Chain Letters,” on Saddle Creek Records, Big Harp has developed a more brash and electric sound.
Daniel Pujol hails from Tennessee, but the garage rocker released his latest, “United States of Being,” on Saddle Creek Records.
Formerly of Neva Dinova, Bellows has been preparing a new album with a band of cohorts including Omaha musicians Ben Brodin, Todd Fink, Ryan Fox and Heath Koontz. He's released a tape of B-sides and demos (a real, live cassette!) called “Help.”
Austin should get ready for BluBlocker sunglasses and dancing when the Omaha funk band (and all 10 of its members ... hope they have a stage big enough) hits a SXSW showcase for the first time since 2011. “We're very excited to bring our set of music to a national level and get it into as many new ears as possible. We get to take energy with us to Texas and share it with a brand new crowd. Playing music with your best friends and getting plucked from Benson to slot an official showcase at SXSW, with no label support whatsoever, is a pretty validating experience,” said frontman Chris Klemmensen. “Plus, I'm pretty excited to continue honing my skills on parallel-parking a 15-passenger van with an 8-foot trailer behind it.”
From the slow-burning song “No Apart” to the frenetic and electric “Open Sign,” the Lincoln punk band has a sound that builds and builds and then bursts.
Last year at SXSW, Icky Blossoms were unknowns. And they still drew a dancing, sweaty audience. With a little more name recognition, they'll do even better this time. “I'm really looking forward to playing with our light show down there for new people. Excited for the chaos of the event. It's hard to get excited to actually see bands. But what's most exciting is seeing our friends' bands play down there and all freaking out together,” said guitarist Nik Fackler. “Last year when we played, nobody knew who we were. We had nothing out except for the announcement we were on Saddle Creek. We're excited to see what kind of reaction we will get now that our record has been out for a while and all the content we've made supporting it.”
Formerly of Eagle*Seagull, Mardock recently released a new EP, “Hamburg.” We dig the acoustic track “Beat, Heart,” which swells with strings, keys and an emotional guitar solo. Reminds us of the Beatles' best stuff.
The Nebraska native now lives in Spain, but he makes it back to the states for occasional performances (including last year for Maha Music Festival). With a new album, “The Happiness Waltz,” coming later this month, Rouse will be playing all over SXSW.
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