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SXSW: Bands To See At Coachella

Emily Wilson |
March 22, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. PDT


South by Southwest (SXSW)
South by Southwest (SXSW)
Scheduled line-ups often overlap during the spring and summer musical festival season, as artists and bands play multiple stages across the country and beyond, entertaining the large crowds and hoping to generate enough buzz to propel record sales and expand fan bases.

A number of acts that played last week’s South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas will take on the heat of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival next month.

Below are reviews of how some of those bands fared down south, preparing lucky Coachella ticket holders for who to see at the 3-day desert music bash.

The Kills :: The Kills are undeniably sexy. The duo, Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart, give off such an onstage aura of effortless appeal that it hovers around the mysterious. That's why, even while performing mostly unknown tracks off their upcoming album “Blood Pressures,” due out April 5th, their performance at Emo’s on Thursday night was still captivating. Enjoying the show does not hinge on an ability to sing along. Each with a guitar, and with the aid of a recorded drum track, the two played and sang (Mosshart on lead vocals) with a cool energy and intensity that belongs on a stage and fits their brand of straight-forward, lo-fi, stripped down rock music perfectly. The new album is out before Coachella, but even if you don’t get to know it pre-performance, seeing The Kills is still worthwhile.

 Foster the People :: Lines formed outside both the Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa and the Echoplex in Los Angeles in January, as Foster the People played popular residencies at each Southern California venue. The buzz they drummed up in their hometown of Los Angeles carried over to Texas. They played multiple shows, including an official showcase in the Austin Convention Center on Saturday. Performing sharp and contagious dancey pop, the group has garnered vocal and stylistic comparisons to MGMT, but certainly has its own, separate appeal incomparable to other acts. They had people dancing in the aisles at the sit-down audience showcase at SXSW, if that's any indication of what a stand-up, wild Coachella stage might present for you. They’ve released a 3-song EP with stand out tracks “Houdini” and “Pumped Up Kicks” and a debut full-length album is due out in May.

Twin Shadow :: I’d venture to guess that seeing Twin Shadow in 2011 is nearly the same as traveling back in time for a new wave concert in the 80’s. It’s obvious that George Lewis Jr., the Brooklyn-based singer who is Twin Shadow, has ingested heavy influence from that time period, obvious in both his sound and appearance. But he still manages to add a modern sensibility to his songs, resulting in a mixture of eloquent, atmospheric indie pop and 80s dance music. At SXSW, he performed songs off his debut album “Forget” with the help of a full band, to crowd-pleasing results. Expect much the same at Coachella.

 Tinie Tempah :: The British rapper has been having tremendous success on the UK singles charts with songs from his debut album “Disc-overy.” And with his single “Written on the Stars” starting to get play in the U.S., now is the opportune time for Tinie Tempah to play the stateside festival circuit. He performed with vibrancy at SXSW, smiling and dancing around the stage, creating a party vibe that could even make the most nay-saying radio haters take interest. Tempah’s traveling house party promises to translate well to a hot and sweaty Coachella tent. It would be a shame to miss out on that kind of fun.

 The Joy Formidable :: She walked onstage, a tiny woman with a bleach blonde bob, a black dress, tights and platform shoes, with eyes wide open and unblinking, holding her electric guitar. Her speaking voice was gentle and her singing voice pure and lovely. Then, the surprise: she is as intense a rock’n’roll front woman as I’ve ever seen. Lead singer of The Joy Formidable, Ritzy Bryan (along with her two band mates playing drums, bass and vocals) thrashed around the stage, playing songs from their recently released debut full-length album “The Big Roar.” That title could easily describe the set played at SXSW, which progressed much like many of the band’s songs: up-tempo, catchy and melodic until a full-forced, howling guitar and pounding double-bass drum attack leaves the listener both stunned and elated.

Wiz Khalifa :: Read the SXSW review here.

Reach Emily here.
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