Sxsw: Unseen

Bands We Wanted To See But Missed

Christopher Johnson
5 min read
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Besides some of the other bands already mentioned in previous posts, there were a lot more bands we really wanted to see but couldn’t, mostly because of scheduling conflicts. Many bands played at (record) label parties during the day that were so exclusive they wouldn’t let you in even if you cried like a little baby (which I actually tried once or twice).

The Right Honorable Michael Henningsen, the Alibi‘s former music editor, had a knack for always having an invite to every daytime label party there ever was with free liquor, BBQ, schwag bags and intimate performances by big name artists.

Regardless, here are the bands we heard of before we went, caught wind of on the street or through various recommendations — check some out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. New music is almost like a second part-time job: It takes work but it pays off.

Austin’s Okkervil River, their song “For Real” is one of my favorite new songs. I didn’t even know they were Austin-based until I looked up their bio for this story.

Glasgow, Scotland’s Camera Obscura, we really liked the most of all the Scottish music we saw this year. We’ve been big fans of Camera Obscura ever since the release of their album, Under Achievers Please Try Harder. The Scottish Arts Council was a noticeable force this year and they did a great job promoting their country’s acts and making sure their voices were heard.

Waco, Texas’ Billy Joe Shaver , who is perhaps my personal favorite live performer and the man whose lyrics I worship. (Remember, as a former friend once drawled, “There’s Nashville country music and Texas country music, and there’s a big difference.”) His NPR Fresh Air interview from Dec. 30, 2005 will tear your heart out.

Gothenburg, Sweden’s José Gonzalez , who we tried to see (but missed by minutes!) during his live broadcast set at the KEXP-FM (Seattle)/Austin City Limits studio. Oh well, at least my wife got to meet her favorite, DJ Cheryl Waters <;friendid=6828863> .

New York City’s Rhett Miller , one of the original Old 97’s, has a new solo album due out, The Believer. I still listen regularly to the Old 97’s so it will be interesting to see what Old Rhett comes up with.

Former Texan turned Hawaii resident, Kris Kristofferson , who I saw and loved a year or two ago at SXSW, has his first new album out in years called This Old Road.

Albuquerque’s Gingerbread Patriots, who we didn’t get around to seeing while at SXSW.

New York City’s Talib Kweli, whose albums we own already, but still haven’t seen live.

Scotland’s Mogwai: discovered by Angela while either listening to KEXP or reading about them on

New York City’s Calla; we saw them briefly last year (at SXSW). They were recommended to us by a gifted miner of new music who lives and works here in Albuquerque.

New York City’s The Fiery Furnaces who were also recommended by above friend.

Houston’s Chingo Bling, a rapper who had great buzz going at last year’s SXSW festival.

Los Angeles’ The Brian Jonestown Massacre, who Launchpad’s Joe Anderson tried to book for Alibi‘s Fall Crawl 2005 before the date got changed by the city. (It didn’t matter though since before we could freak out, all our national acts cancelled at once for the old date.)

Albuquerque’s Hawk and a Hacksaw, who we saw at last year’s SXSW festival.

Austin’s David Garza , who we also saw at last year’s SXSW festival in the quaint Cactus Café on the University of Texas-Austin campus. He did some of the music for the film soundtrack of Great Expectations.

Albuquerque’s Beirut, who I must admit I have not seen despite Alibi Music Editor Laura Marrich’s repeated urgings.

Glasgow’s Isobel Campbell , who I heard has an album out with Swede Nicolai Dunger. We saw Nicolai at Antone’s during last year’s SXSW and weren’t overly impressed with him, but her album has gotten some good buzz.

Chicago’s Magnolia Electric Company who are another band that was recommended to us by our music-hunter buddy.

New York’s Ramblin’ Jack Elliot who I have wanted to see ever since I saw the documentary The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack, the film which tempered my near fanatic devotion to Bob Dylan.

New York’s Rosanne Cash whose new album, Black Cadillac, has got excellent reviews. She is the daughter of the late Johnny Cash, the child of Cash’s first wife.

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