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SXSW Music Festival Takes the Southwest by Storm

More than a thousand independent and mainstream artists take over Austin, TX, in this premiere music festival.

By MP3.com Staff
March 15, 2005

SXSW (South by Southwest), the annual music festival that largely highlights independent artists, along with some mainstream acts, kicks off March 16 in Austin, Texas. On March 17, the SXSW Music and Media Conference will begin, and conference registrants may attend to hear and partake in panel discussions involving hundreds of speakers from all over the world. Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant will participate as the keynote speaker. Plant will also perform at the festival, making it the first time in three years he has performed in the United States. The festival will conclude on March 20, after a multitude of bands have illuminated the city with their eclectic performances at a variety of venues throughout the Texas capital.

More than 1300 acts will grace the Austin area during the festival. Among these bands is Spoon, a local Austin favorite that has quickly garnered fans nationwide. The indie rock darlings will release a new album, Gimme Fiction, on May 10. There will be a good chance that fans will get to hear snippets from the eagerly anticipated release. Mike Doughty, formerly of the improvisational jazz-indie rock outfit Soul Coughing, will perform some of his solo releases, perhaps including Skittish and Rockity Roll. Some more well-known acts will also perform, including indie pop/rocksters Hot Hot Heat, electronica superstar Fatboy Slim, and '80s icon Billy Idol. That's right, the man with the endearing sneer and rebel yell will perform--most likely with a mix of classic tracks and a peak at his new release Devil's Playground. Some other favorites in the independent music community who are continuously gaining critical acclaim--The Wrens, Pedro the Lion, Ben Lee, and The Donnas--will also be performing.

If the sight of Billy Idol dancing with himself does not float your boat, maybe a peak at up-and-coming acts such as The Futureheads or LCD Soundsystem will. England's The Futureheads promise to deliver their modern interpretation of late '70s angular rock a la Wire, while LCD Soundsystem will no doubt get the party moving with their disco-soaked punk. Non-anglophile indie rockers will surely find themselves in the front row at Sleater-Kinney's performance, which, without question, will quench any thirst for post-riot grrrl rock mixed with a touch of twee. Yummy. Of course, if all this rock is not your bag, then may we suggest some hip-hop? Good, because underground champion MF Doom will be on hand to convert the masses with his graveled surrealist wordplay. Houston native and Geto Boys founder, Scarface, is scheduled to perform, as is Canadian MC/singer-songwriter Buck 65. Neo-soul songstress Erykah Badu's performance promises to raise the temperature just a few degrees higher than the already heated Texas desert. So, if live independent music nestled in the heart of Texas gets you heated up, we recommend investigating SXSW.

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