Compared to my first year as an Austin resident, I took it pretty easy this year. I suppose the combination of budgeting, starting grad school, and just generally growing old has slowed me down a bit, but I still saw some cool shows. And with M83, Radiohead, Drake, and Born Gold all coming in the first half of 2012, looks like I’ll be getting a head start on this list for next year. In the meantime, here are some highlights, at least ones I could remember, from 2011.
Hooray For Earth @ Emo’s Inside – 10/1
I believe this was the last show I saw at Emo’s Inside (I remember seeing Twin Shadow around ACL time on the outside stage just before they shut it down), and I’ve yet to see a show at the new locale on East Riverside. I had been dying to witness Hooray For Earth for many many months, and finally seeing them rock out was rewarding, as was a nice conversation with the lead singer afterwards.
Deftones @ Austin Music Hall – 6/4
Call it making up for lost time; I’m not a huge fan of AMH – actually, I hate it quite a bit, but I’m never missing a Deftones show. I finally saw them for the first time last year, and as long as these guys make it to Austin, I’ll be going. The crowd was awful, as was the case last time, but Deftones more than make up for all the teenage rudeness.
Bill Maher @ ACL Live – 3/26
Not a music show, but man was it hilarious. My second show in the ACL Live venue, and Bill proved he loves Austin. The crowd was mostly receptive, but I did get some looks for applauding loudly at the atheist jokes. Do people know who they came to see?
Robyn @ ACL Live – 2/17
Robyn is incredible, see her live the first chance you get. High energy, tons of dancing, great acoustics, great venue. The crowd up front was crazy annoying, especially during Diamond Rings, but what are ya gonna do?
Sleigh Bells @ The Glass House – Pomona, CA – 4/13
The Glass House is a weird little venue; I honestly had no idea how far Pomona was from West Hollywood, but we drove a long way to see this awesome awesome show. It was all ages, no alcohol. Not that I had a lot of cash anyway. Sleigh Bells killed, as is the routine.
The Go! Team @ Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – 4/19
The Echoplex was closer, but it felt like a shady neighborhood. The venue, however, is pretty damn awesome, and the Go! Team were just as fun as I could have imagined. Hopefully these guys make a new album, because I’m betting they’ll make a stop here in Austin if they do.
Primus @ Stubb’s – 5/24
It’s so great to have these guys back and playing new stuff. Have I said that lately? Great show in one of the best venues in town, and we met Les (again!) and got a pic with him afterwards. Swell fella!
Dwight Yoakam @ ACL Live – 7/21
Another strong showing from the hillbilly king, this time at a venue within walking distance. Now if he would just get back in the studio!
Austin Psych Fest @ Seaholm Power Plant – 4/30-5/1
I really had no idea what to expect, but this ended up being a pleasant surprise. I got sufficiently drunk and listened to some crazy great psych music from all around the world, in the most appropriately creepy place to see a show in Austin, the echo-riffic Seaholm. Capping off the fest with Roky Erikson providing the soundtrack to the news of bin Laden’s death is a memory I will never forget.
Fun Fun Fun Fest @ Auditorium Shores – 11/4-6
I was a bit concerned for the future of my beloved FFF when they announced they were moving to the Shores, but in hindsight I feel ashamed for not having faith in the Transmission crew. Not only was this the best lineup I’ve ever seen in the fest’s six-year history, but the change of venue actually improved the overall experience. Great vendors, great music, not too crowded….best music experience of 2011, hands down.
SXSW 2011 – Spring Break and Beyond
The best week of the year did not disappoint, though this year I focused a lot of energy on getting into shows I didn’t think I would be able to get into. There’s certainly an extra feeling of reward when you’re granted access to an exclusive party with A-list bands and free food and booze. My personal highlights were the Zynga party (flyer above) and catching Queens of the Stone Age at La Zona Rosa. Another great free party showing as well this past year, especially Mess With Texas, which never disappoints. Saw the Strokes at the Shores, too, which was great. While 2010 might be remembered as the year of mini-riots and ridiculous overcrowding, for me it was just a regular old SXSW, fun, booze, catching up with old friends, and seeing some great music.