SXSW Wrap Up by Jessamyn Cuneo

Written by
Howlin Rain by Jeff Miller

For the last four years, KCRW Jessamyn Cuneo has been flying into Austin to assist with KCRW’s activities during SXSW. She’s a huge help and a huge music fan. Here are her reflections on this year’s conference:

The SXSW experience means catching dozens of bands, but the best music demands me on my feet, either dancing or watching in awe, as close to the source of energy as possible. Here are six of my faves from this year:

Interstellar Transmissions, a band from Austin, had converted an old school bus to have a stage in the back and the front was lined with voodoo-lounge couches. They jammed  so epically hard that as the bus rolled around downtown Austin people would run and jump aboard.

The Alabama Shakes, a name which people are growing quite familiar with at this point, drew a thunderous crowd on Wednesday afternoon at KCRW’s showcase at the Convention Center. They took what’s usually a quieter, more sterile venue and turned it into a stadium of quirky, vibrant soul.

Band of Skulls, a group from the UK, played at the KCRW evening showcase that night at the Haven, and they were absolutely hypnotizing. We stood on our seats to watch them create the fantastically sexy rock and roll pummeling out of the speakers, and, as put by Rachel Reynolds, “yanking our guts in that exciting way only rock can.”

Howlin Rain, out of Oakland, CA, was alive with sweat and psychedelic rock. Ethan Miller, formerly of Comets on Fire, was conducting the vocals while dancing through the crowd and jumping up on the bar.

Shakey Graves has a collection of edgy, loveable, Iron-and-Wine-meets-CocoRosie tunes about travelling and getting drunk and dreaming. Alejandro Rose-Garcia has fashioned a suitcase with a kick drum and a tambourine that he sits on as he plays guitar and sings, all while using his feet to provide percussion.

— When Voxhaul Broadcast, from LA, took the stage, somehow I found myself dancing on the last night of the festival, a triumph in itself. It was just that they sounded extraordinarily good and my body could not resist.

— Jessamyn Cuneo