SXSW is less than two weeks away, and you know what that means: Every road-doggin' rock act from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, will stop through Music City on their way to Austin. Hence, perhaps, the plethora of action we see before us tonight: soul, rock 'n' roll, hip-hop and country music are all on the menu. Follow me after the jump to see what our writers had to say about all of it.
Speaking of SXSW, up first is a South-By-style soiree by the name of "CouchTrippin' to Austin" over at Exit/In. On the bill are recent "Live in the Morgue" performers Those Darlins as well as Shakey Graves and David Mayfield Parade. Stephen "Goose" Trageser wrote us a pick on that one. Have a look:
If you’ve never been to South by Southwest, here’s your chance get a taste of a SXSW showcase without the hassle of wading through festival traffic and spending half your day waiting in door lines. Austin’s own Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves, does his best to keep it weird with a hazy concoction of bluesy space-folk. Sharing the stage with him are solid local rockers Those Darlins, who are heading into festival season on the heels of Blur the Line, one of the Scene’s Top 10 albums of 2013 and a special showcase for co-frontwoman Jessi Darlin’s guitar chops to boot. Speaking of guitarists, The David Mayfield Parade’s eponymous leader is a massively skilled picker and singer with a knack for stagecraft. California brewery Lagunitas is sponsoring the free shindig, and bringing out some special (not-free) beers for the occasion. To complete the experience, the only thing you’ll have to find on your own is a taco bar. —Stephen Trageser
Starts at 8 p.m. That one's free, but you should RSVP. See, it's just like SXSW!
Earlier this week we shared with you Andrew Leahey and friends' heartwarming performance of Tom Petty's "Walls (Circus)." Tonight, Leahey appears on a High Watt bill alongside Aussie Henry Wagons, where Wagons will unveil his Upstairs at United release. We'll let Edd Hurt tell you about that one:
Depending on your view of country music history, you may hear Henry Wagons as a modern-day Waylon Jennings, or you may enjoy Wagons as a hip avatar of the kind of novelty-country that such Nashville outlaws as Dave Dudley and Johnny Cash once performed. On his 2012 EP Expecting Company?, Wagons — already a star in his native Australia — made his U.S. solo debut with a set of songs that featured his calculated, impassive vocal style. “Give Things a Chance to Mend” featured a pop-country hook, while “I Still Can’t Find Her” was a country pastiche that seemed parodistic. To produce his new EP, Upstairs at United, Vol. 9, Wagons cut tracks live to tape at Nashville’s United Pressing Plant, and he pays tribute to Music City outlaws with his version of Steve Young’s “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean,” which Jennings recorded in 1972. — Edd Hurt
That one costs $12 and starts at 9 p.m.
Now, over to The Stone Fox for some more rock 'n' roll, this time courtesy of The Longshots and local faves D. Watusi. Contributor Jared Sullivan has this pick for us:
It’s been said that the atom bomb obliquely triggered the advent of rock ’n’ roll in the 1950s. If that’s true, it helps explain why Fort Worth, Texas, band The Longshots positively reeks of radioactivity. Their caustic garage rock has no use for nuance or subtlety, relying instead on a gut punch of clunky guitar chords and manic yelps à la The Monks, The Soft Boys or The Stooges. While The Longshots don’t explore uncharted corners of their niche, doing so seems beside the point, as their strength lies in stripping away and refining their genre’s established palette. Local mainstays D. Watusi should round out the bill nicely as they continue to venture further into psychedelic oblivion. —Jared Sullivan
That one costs $5 and starts at 9 p.m.
Now, who's up for a bit of soul? Alabama's St. Paul and the Broken Bones will play tonight at Mercy alongside local country-groovin' instrumentalists Steelism. Staffer Adam Gold has this pick for us:
Hailing from near the epicenter of Northern Alabama soul, Birmingham R&B revivalists St. Paul and the Broken Bones happily wear their homestate influences on their sleeves. Led by precocious crooner Paul Janeway, the brass-section-boasting band tears through a revue of ’60s and ’70s soul like “Call Me,” the ballad “Broken Bones and Pocket Change,” and the amazingly titled rave-up “Sugar Dyed Honey Pants” with a greasy gusto worthy of the Muscle Shoals wrecking crew. Although the gawky and bespectacled Janeway looks more like your garden variety office tech than a chitlin’ circuit superstar, he’s a vocal dead ringer for Wilson Pickett, with a cutting rasp to match and a cache of well-studied James Brown moves. The band’s debut full-length, Half the City, dropped this month on Single Lock Records, a label recently launched by Civil Wars singer John Paul White and Alabama Shakes keyboardist Ben Tanner. Local Western-swing instrumental outfit Steelism opens. —Adam Gold
That's $15 at 9 p.m.
Now, over to the East Side. Blues-rooted rock 'n' rollers Patrick Sweany and Tim Easton will be joined by Slim Wray tonight at The 5 Spot. Goose wrote us up a pick on that one. Here it goes:
There are lots of stumbling blocks on the road to making great rock ’n’ roll, but one that up-and-coming bands trip over all too often is being too reverent. No one on the marquee tonight has any problem with taking themselves or their style too seriously. Patrick Sweany and Tim Easton are both transplants to Nashville from the Ohio Valley, while Slim Wray hails from Brooklyn; all three released stellar LPs last year. Sweany’s Close to the Floor leans toward electric blues and soul, while Easton’s Not Cool draws more from the rockabilly well, and Wray’s Sack Lunch is a blast straight from the garage — but all represent the artists who made them to a greater degree than the records in their collection. —Stephen Trageser
Five bucks at 9 p.m.
Oh hey, all right! Let's get some hip-hop in the mix. Young Thug, Curtis Williams and Brown will perform tonight at Anthem, and Itoro Udoko gave us a little something on that one:
Young Thug and Curtis Williams represent the new generation of Atlanta rappers. The former is signed to Gucci Mane’s 1017 Brick Squad, and is one of the South’s most formidable responses to Chicago’s rising drill scene. The latter is a member of Two-9, an Atlanta hip-hop collective that boasts a slew of members. Two-9 might be lighter on the trap and heavier on the lyrical, but the brilliant thing about “new Atlanta” is that Young Jeezy and OutKast seem to be equally influential on this younger generation of artists. Brown, a local whose recent debut, 7:22, has been making waves in the scene, opens the night. —Itoro Udoko