16 Bands To See at SXSW 2016: Dilly Dally, Porches, Car Seat Headrest, PUP, Mass Gothic, Julien Baker, Pinegrove, Day Wave, Feels, Big Ups, Beverly, Sunflower Bean, Wildhoney, Nai Harvest, Mercury Girls, Sorority Noise
Written by Patrick McNamara
There are lots and lots and lots of good bands playing SXSW this year (and, let's be honest, a lot of shitty ones too but nevermind them they'll either poop all over everything and stink their way out of existence soon enough…. or become massive stars…. one of the two).
However, I would like to take this self-created opportunity to highlight only 16 of the good bands playing SXSW this year because it's 2016 A.D. and I'm a big fan of cutesy online symmetry like that and also I can't be writing about every good band playing a massive music festival. I've got too many shows to list on my music blob, man.
The following 16 good bands you should see at SXSW 2016 A.D. are listed in no particular order so don't read too much into the way they appear. I just listened to my brain and after several hours of silence my synapses slowly started firing and I finally heard some things and wrote them down accordingly. From first to last to everything listed in-between all 16 of these bands are equally GOOD.
Please note: if your favorite band is not represented on this list and you are faux outraged at my egregious omission now would be a great time for you to get your own music blob and write all your wrongs.
Enough of this really great preamble, let's get this really great digital article started. I won't let you down and neither will these bands. So help me blob.
Presenting: The 16 Bands To See at SXSW 2016 A.D.
#1 Dilly Dally
Toronto's Dilly Dally plays crunchy fuzzy punk that pops and psychs and flails and thrashes. The guitars go big with the shreds (when they're not twinkle-y and pretty) and the raspy rockstar vocals are perfect. It's noisy AND melodic. Therefore, you can sing along to this band in the shower or blast 'em while you burn your house down. Now doesn't that sound nice?
Aaron Maine's totally chill Brooklyn pop crew has been around the block for a bit but with the recent release of Porches' excellent new album "Pool" things are about to get REAL. See them early and often this SXSW and don't forget to bring along Billy Bong Thornton for the easy breezy ride, man.
#3 Car Seat Headrest
Seattle's Car Seat Headrest is the magnum opus moniker of mad proficient early twenty-something-year-old lo-fi sunshine psych pop wunderkind, Will Toledo (live, he's got a band). Over the last few years, this dude self-released just short of a dozen (!) albums to the WW IntraSphere (he played every note and sang every syllable on all of them - eat shit, Dave Grohl) and all that musical precociousness ultimately got him signed to a little record label called Matador. You're gonna like the way this streams. I guarantee it. (*Guarantee not a guarantee if you don't like pop in which case I guarantee you're a sick MONSTER)
Super tight Toronto punks PUP put on one of the most fun live shows you can ever hope to see. PERIOD. The ubiquitous mosh pit is always there front and center if you need it but if you prefer to enjoy the good-natured mayhem from right outside the circle, that's totally fine too. There are no wrong moves at a PUP show. Just be cool to your friends and neighbors and, most importantly, yourself. Because you goddamn deserve it. I can't even count how many times I've seen this band at this point. I just don't want it to stop. Ever.
#5 Mass Gothic
NYC's Mass Gothic is the new big time pop project from Noel Heroux. You might remember him from his prior band, Hooray For Earth. Man, that was a good band. Mass Gothic sounds BIG. Huge. Grandiose. Gigantic. Gargantuan. Immense. Elephantine (?). Titanic. Mountainous. Monumental. Jacked. Giant. BIG. The band just released their debut album on a record label called Sub Pop (I think I've heard of it?) and it's GOOD. Please love it whenever you're ready love a good album.
#6 Julien Baker
Julien Baker is currently a student at Middle Tennessee State (Go Blue Raiders! ←--- my above-and-beyond research) who last year quietly released "Sprained Ankle," her DIY debut album (she sings/plays everything on it - eat shit, Dave Grohl) featuring nine achingly beautiful pop folk songs that will not only get in your head but they'll slip under your skin and stay awhile. You will feel it. This I promise you. And that's why things are no longer so quiet for Julien Baker. Peeps above my pay grade are finally starting to hear about the secret (everybody loves "Sprained Ankle" now) and this could very well be the SXSW where she becomes #FAMOUS
Pinegrove is the excellent DIY folk-pop project of Evan Stephens Hall. Since starting this up somewhere circa 2010 he's been the vision behind this thing but live this is a band of collaborators. It's not just ESH out there slinging the sonic goodness. No man is an island. When I listen to this band I hear a little bit of The Decemberists. Similar vocals, for sure. And Hall himself has name-checked Phil Elverum/Elvrum (The Microphones/Mount Eerie). So maybe those two big time names helps you wrap your mind around things a bit better concerning this good band. I hope so, dear Rockness reader. I truly hope so.
#8 Day Wave
Oakland's Day Wave is the shimmering synth/guitar/beat machine pop project of one talented dude with a very nice voice, Jackson Phillips (live, he performs with a band). He makes easy breezy sun-drenched bedroom jams (or whatever room he recorded this in - there seem to be more room recording options in your standard Oakland dwelling than, say, in Brooklyn where this is being written). You may nestle this band comfortably alongside your DIIV + The Drums + Wild Nothing + (more recently) Turnover LPs, perhaps. Or, if you don't have those records because you spend all your money on the rent for your tiny ass apartment, you can consider Day Wave a stand alone work of musical goodness.
This band gives me all the _____. Feels is a super good garage psych post ____ band from Los Angeles (Echo Park REPRESENT) whose upcoming debut album (on Castle Face) was produced by the mighty Ty Segall. The band of four come at you with super dope swirling scuzz over hooks, tight harmonies and semi-restrained aggression. And the best part? You can totally sing along if you want to. I do want to as I have a lovely singing voice and I don't care who knows it. They've recently played shows with Drive Like Jehu, The Lemonheads, Cat Power and Lou Barlow. Neat!
#10 Sunflower Bean
This heavy/sweet pop/crunch gaze/haze band (did I nail their sound with that description don't worry I'll answer for you I totally nailed it) is the only repeat from last year's list (that one was called "15 Bands To See at SXSW 2015" GET IT). That's how good Sunflower Bean is. This hard-working band has been getting all sorts of love for their recently released debut album "Human Ceremony" and do you want to know why? Because it's GOOD! You're going to want to see SB in Austin this year while they're still relatively under-the-radar so you can someday impress somebody and say you did. Big. Time.
Baltimore's Wildhoney is an indiepop band, an incredibly loud indiepop band. Their melodies sure are sweet and I like to soar along to them and feel like I'm flying and free, but the guitars, oh these guitars can be angry. This indiepop is as fragile and delicate as a buzzsaw - and so sing-able too! The band has played a bunch of shows since forming whenever they formed (will research later). Hmm. I wonder if this why their music sounds so tight and good. Is there a correlation between practice and perfecting your craft? Again, such cerebral discussions are above my pay grade I just blob here.
#12 Nai Harvest
Nai Harvest is a blazing duo from Sheffield, UK that play catchy fuzz punk. I saw them play CMJ last year and they destroyed my shit so I figured I should write this profile on them for my music blob and convince maybe three more people (of which you are one) to go see them at SXSW this year. So that's what I'm doing. Get ready to be famous, dudes. (And lucky you for being one of the lucky three who just got this hot tip - follow up on it and you WILL lose your shit).
#13 Mercury Girls
Philadelphia's Mercury Girls is a Good Band and you can go right ahead and file them in the "Good Band" section of your favorite card cabinet right this instant. If you want to continue reading the rest of this profile first, that's obviously cool too. This Good Band (featuring members of Literature + Little Big League + Pet Milk: you can do the research on who plays where with what if you wanna) play hazy swirl-y lo-fi jingle jangle indie pop that you will instantly like if you like that kind of thing. Guess what, hoss? I LIKE THAT KIND OF THING. This is poppy. It's pretty. It's punk. It's a Good Band!
#14 Sorority Noise
Rarely a week goes by that I don't blast this fuzzy punk band at home. Even my upstairs neighbors are starting to thump their feet to the beat. Their "BAM! BAM! BAMS!" are now perfectly in time but their "TURN IT DOWN, ASSHOLES!" shouts are still a little off. Better keep blasting until they get the hang of it. And as good as they are at annoying my neighbors they're even better live. Go see them. AT ONCE.
Brooklyn's Beverly sling distorted pop goodness that swirls towards a breezy kind of musical transcendence. Could this band be your new favorite band of the upcoming summer? Sure, they can! You can easily kick back and chill to Beverly while your feet clutch the sand, man, but this is way better than your regular bland beach music. Beverly has bite. Bet. Please enjoy listening to their fantastic new song "Victoria" written by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Kip Berman. It's so good!
#16 Big Ups
Big. Ups. Punk. Rock. DIY. NEVER. DIE. Always. Forever. Amen.
There you have it. 16 super dope band recommendations.
And here's a sweet Spotify playlist for you too.
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Have fun out there!