The cool part about attending the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival every year is the chance to see bands you’ve never heard of, bands working their way up, and bands everyone knows who are playing a more unique or intimate setting. This year was no different.
One of the best bands encountered over the six days in Austin, Texas was the unknown (to us) Masked Intruder, an energized four-piece out of Minneapolis. Masked Intruder plays hyper, post-punk songs and sport — wait for it — colored ski masks. Each member’s mask color matches that of his instrument and Chuck Taylors. Quirky, funny, and songs full of mad hooks — what more could you ask for?
Solange brightened up an already-sunny day at the Spin party, and the always entertaining Eagles of Death Metal rocked Rachael Ray’s Feedback shindig. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds were their dark, sexy selves, Green Day played their first show since lead singer Billie Jo Armstrong’s rehab stint (they keep on rocking in the sober world), and the always quirky Flaming Lips played Yoshimi Battled the Pink Robots in its entirety. We saw Oliver Ackerman and A Place to Bury Strangers and their sonic explosions, a panel discussion with Chuck Ragan, Frank Turner, Chris Shiflett, Austin Lucas, and Matthew Pryor about the ins and outs of being a touring musician, and the new Thurston Moore group, Chelsea Light Moving, and their (not surprisingly) tons of yummy distortion.
And oh yeah, Usher made his SXSW debut and fronted a couple of songs with The Afghan Whigs. And yes, yes, it was pretty amazing. (Even ran into Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic digging the scene!)
“Rock and Roll Spring Break,” as we’ve come to see South-by, is six days of crazy, kinetic, non-stop movement. Comfortable shoes and sunblock are a must. By Saturday, you’ll be looking forward to sleeping in your own bed and a hot meal that wasn’t served out of a food truck. But once home, all you’ll be thinking is “Man, I can’t wait to go again next year.”
See additional photos from a variety of SXSW shows here.