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The 20 best bands I saw at SXSW 2012

The 20 best bands I saw at SXSW 2012


8. El-P

As one of my favourite rappers, El-P can’t really do much wrong. So he did right by bringing Killer Mike, Despot and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire on stage with him while he went through some songs from his forthcoming new album as well as Company Flow’s ‘Vital Nerve’ and EL-P favourites ‘Everything Must Go’ , ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Deep Space 9mm’.


I stumbled upon the last 15 minutes of SBTRKT’s set by accident at Pitchfork’s Day Party before El-P. A nice surprise for me as SBTRKT’s album was my favourite of the last year. At Mohawk, in the mid-day sun, Jerome and Sampha added percussive heft and R&B touches to their fervent dance tracks.

10. Ava Luna

Imagine a raggedy misfit version of Dirty Projectors playing barbershop doo wop proggy oddness in a gay bar called The Iron Bear and you’re pretty much where I was last Friday. Their recorded output can be a bit frantic but live, their gloriously messy and agitated pop songs make perfect sense.

11. SpaceghostPurrp

Even between a manic crew-heavy set from The Jacka that appeared like it might sway into criminality at any moment to an affable set from Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire in which he dropped one single verse of ‘The Last Huzzah’, SpaceghostPurrp’s set at the Thrasher party in The Scoot Inn stood out. That’s because the Florida rapper and producer makes some eerie, dragged through the mud creep rap, far removed from the atmosphere of nearly every other rap artist at SXSW this year even his collaborator ASAP Rocky. Download his recent God Of Black mixtape and kill the lights…

12. Tanlines

A short and sweet set of tropical pop from the New York duo who I had waited two years to see live after catching a part of their set at SXSW 2010. They stuck to playing the steel-drum-sampling tropical electronic pop set of their songs from new album Mixed Emotions and they finished on a high with ‘Real Life’. In between, weI learned that they are as funny as their Twitter suggests and that they like to use the word “Bagels” during soundcheck. Mighty.

13. Chairlift

Caroline Polachek has flawless live vocals, expressive dance skills, excellent command of hand maracas and is prone to making obtuse statements (“everyone here is a survivor”). She’s awesome. As are Chairlift who I saw live in Mohawk and at The Parish on two different days. Both sets consisted of all material from latest album Something.

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