Aug 232013
 

AME likes to wait this late to do our Austin City Limits festival preview because now we are able to see on what days certain acts are playing. It’s just good for general specificity of recommendation. It’s a great lineup this year, obviously. Everyone has already said that. Without further ado, here are the acts you should check out at ACL 2013.

The Austin City Limits Music Festival takes place at Zilker Park on October 4-6 and October 11-13

Friday

fun. - They had one of the biggest hits of last year and bring one of the best live shows around. I caught them at SXSW last year and they rocked the house at Stubb’s. Nate Ruess’ dancing form will be a good, mid-afternoon pick me up. 4 p.m. at AMD Stage.

Okkervil River – One of the bright lights of the Austin rock scene, Okkervil River has been quietly releasing a string of excellent records and building a passionate fan base over the past decade plus. They are currently at work on a new album, so it’s very possible that new material will make a debut for this set. 5 p.m. at the Honda Stage.

Vampire Weekend - The quirky, intellectual indie rock quartet already has quite a bit of excellent material under their belt, so it comes as a great delight that their third album, Modern Vampires of the City, might be 2013′s best record. The 12 songs on Modern Vampires – all of them great choices for live performance (but we can expect “Step” and “Diane Young” for sure) – will enrich the older Vampire Weekend material like “Oxford Comma” and “White Sky.” 6 p.m. at AMD Stage.

Saturday

Passion Pit - Gossamer, dream synth-pop outfit Passion Pit’s second album, further established the sunny melodies and ear pricking production that made us fall in love with “Little Secrets” in the first place. Sadly, Passion Pit is playing at the same time as another AME recommendation, Wilco, so you will have to pick one or the other. 6 p.m. at AMD Stage.

Wilco - One of America’s greatest rock bands, Wilco is a familiar face at ACL. It is good to see them back, however, as they will be playing material from 2011′s masterful The Whole Love this time ’round. Wilco will also be playing a late night show at Stubb’s, so they’ll have a busy ACL for sure. 6 p.m. at Samsung Galaxy Stage.

Kendrick Lamar - One of 2012′s great breakouts, Kendrick Lamar represents the future of hard hip hop. good kid, m.A.A.d city is a masterpiece that gains in power on each listen. Seeing this major new artist live is an experience not to be missed. We’ll be talking about Lamar for a while. 7 p.m. at the Honda Stage

Sunday

Divine Fits - Maybe there will come a day when this Britt Daniel (of Spoon) and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) supergroup isn’t on tour, but until then let’s enjoy the fitful, hip rock music they’re making right now. 4:30 at the Honda Stage.

The National - Now, if Modern Vampires of the City is not the year’s best record, then maybe The National’s euphoric Trouble Will Find Me has its eye on the prize. The last time they were at ACL, they upstaged the headliner Eagles. Now they’ve got even stronger material. This is probably the must-see concert of the whole festival. 5:30 at AMD Stage.

Atoms For Peace - This is the day of the supergroups. Thom Yorke’s (of Radiohead, of course) project with Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers, clearly) and Nigel Godrich is getting one of the chunkier sets of the festival, as would benefit superstars of these guys’ league. Amok. their first official album together, is another of this year’s most talked-about releases. 7:40 at AMD Stage.

Remember, ACL is two weekends this year, so there might be some schedule discrepancies. Check your guide before you go. And let AME know if you’re headed out ACL – we’ll see you there!

Mar 282012
 

I hit Sixth Street in the later afternoon on Friday. At this point the bar crawl was totally packed with revelers and performers. The things that caught my attention: hard rock band And So I Watch You From Afar absolutely tearing it up at BD Riley’s. A large crowd had gathered outside the bar to hear the crushing chords and dervish drum spectacle. There were no words in the song I saw, but the action was so full-bore that lyrics may have overwhelmed the composition. The Irish trio put up their gear after that monstrous performance, and the crowd was giddy with “do you know the name of this band?” syndrome. Some people even got the name wrong as “Watching from Afar.”

Further down Sixth was an even bigger surprise: Say Anything playing a free show. At first the band’s sweet pop-punk made me think it was a Say Anything knock-off, because a national act would be unlikely to be playing a free show in the middle of the afternoon, but as people around me started singing along I realized it was the real deal. This is an example of one of the great surprises you can find at SXSW if you’re in the right place at the right time. You could see the excitement on people’s faces as they also realized that a major band was giving an unexpected free show. Obviously the bar was too crowded to get into, but there was no mistaking the band from the street.

Continuing further down, I ran into San Antonio’s heavy metal group Immortal Guardian, who were performing outside. They were performing a firebrand instrumental, the second I had heard in 20 minutes, but it was totally different from And So I Watch You From Afar. Although Immortal Guardian is listed as a quintet, only guitarist/keyboardist Gabriel Guardian and drummer Cody Gilliand were present on Sixth. It didn’t matter. It was eight minutes of deeply technical, virtuoso performing by both men. Especially impressive was Guardian’s ability to switch between his shred guitar tricks and lightning-fast keyboard runs without missing a beat. At times he played both the guitar and keys at the same time. I’m not a heavy metal guy but it’s impossible not to be affected by this. I’d love to see them in the full lineup.

Check out the street scene here. Also, there was this guy:

I had reached the end of the bar run at this point and figured I might as well visit the Austin Convention Center one last time before SXSW ended. It was a practical ghost town inside, although I did walk through a swanky fashion showcase that seemed to just be getting underway. I bought a personal pizza for lunch, finally found a water fountain upstairs (where it was even more deserted), ate my meal and headed out. The final few days of SXSW are not the most active times at the Convention Center, which is probably a “duh.”

I had one more drink on the roof of Shakespeare’s, and looked over the roof awning onto a street scene filled with one of those classic SXSW scenes: a jam circle in direct conflict with an Asian drumline. The things you can catch if you stick around, eh?

I headed off to see the first official show of my Friday. I have never been inside The Moody Theater (aka ACL Live @ The Moody Theater) before, but it’s a beautiful stage room! Deep and cool, with both stadium seating and a general assembly area, it was a totally appropriate venue for baroque, alternative pop legends The Magnetic Fields.

I have no idea what the instrument Stephin Merritt is playing is called.

Before Stephin Merritt and his crew came on, though, I bought a fantastic mixed drink that had Jack Daniels “honey” flavor injected in it. Probably the single most delicious beverage of the entire week. At $9 that was pretty steep, but I would gladly have paid $7 and felt I got my money’s worth.

The War on Drugs was actually the next band. Their 2011 release, Slave Ambient, was championed by many as one of the best records of the year. So it was a great chance to see what the fuss is about. The impression I got is that The War on Drugs is a soulful, reverb-heavy quartet that relies on Adam Granduciel’s syncopated, endlessly arpeggio-laden guitar parts. The songs drifted together to a certain extent, but the sound was so pleasurable that it didn’t really matter. I bet if I picked up the record the tracks I heard would distinguish themselves better.

But The Magnetic Fields were still the main attraction. They just released Love at the Bottom of the Sea, their ninth proper album, so SXSW was probably nothing more to the band than a glorified tour stop. Stephin Merritt was his usual prickly self on stage, trading good-natured barbs with second-in-command Claudia Gonson after a false start. “That was a variation on a theme by Claudia Gonson,” he intoned with his trademark basso-profound voice.

Also, the continual chatter of the audience didn’t jibe well with The Magnetic Fields largely acoustic, drum-less setup. “I once wouldn’t stop talking at a show…and that’s why I’m so short,” Merritt deadpanned. When Gonson introduced a song from the new record by saying the band had just shot a music video for it, Merritt added “speaking of video production, could you please stop filming me with your phones?” iPhone use was at a high during the show, obviously, but after Merritt’s comments one of the Moody’s security guys managed to cut through the crowd with great ease to make sure the front man’s wishes were upheld.

As for the performance itself, it was focused on the lighter side of the Fields’ repertoire. Few songs from the loud, rangy Distortion were played, and the focus was on slower, more melodic tracks and many songs from Bottom of the Sea. No “Papa Was a Rodeo,” but we did get “Smoke and Mirrors” and “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off.” Merritt has never been an effusive or braggadocio performer, so his modest stage stance and salutation at the end of the show was expected. However, The Magnetic Fields are a totally unique brand of American music, and The Moody Theater show was probably everything fans could expect, while providing a good intro for new fans.

After that show closed down, I went over to Stubb’s in an attempt to see fun. a second time. The band’s profile has grown considerably in recent months, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was the longest line of the festival. For about 45 minutes there was no movement at all, and it was unclear whether or not I would even be able to get in. When I heard “Walking the Dog,” one of my favorite tracks off fun.’s 2009 debut Aim and Ignite, from outside the venue I thought I was a goner. But, lo and behold, the line started to move and I got through the gate.

Thank God I did, because fun. made everyone forget Wednesday’s abortive showcase with as rousing and spectacular a performance as you could hope for. The way that Nate Ruess was emoting in his singing, you could tell they were trying to make up for the technical difficulties 48 hours before. When “We Are Young” came up, the entire crowd burst out during the chorus. It was a moment where the energy between the crowd and the performers could be felt like rain on your skin; in many ways I think fun. was taken aback by how popular they suddenly are. It was really nice to hear them with their full set-up, as well. Despite the inevitable walkouts after the big hit, enough people were sewn to the spot to see the rest of the show. Show closer “Some Nights” (the title track from the new album) is every bit the song “We Are Young” is, if not even better. I wanted an encore afterwards, but we’ve gotta move things along! fun. exited the stage with most of the Stubb’s audience converted to fans.

The Drums, from Brooklyn, were up next. I stuck around to pick up one last drink and take in the leftover good vibes . I didn’t envy the quintet; they had to follow a ridiculously good Ugg boots on Sale show. But they stuck to their guns and played their vaguely New Wave-throwback set with professionalism and aplomb. Singer Jonathan Pierce’s onstage manner reminded me of Morrisey, and the band’s trimmed-down, somewhat dour stage attire was simultaneously eye-catching and slightly creepy. As the set went along more of the crowd got our of their fun. hangover, and it turned out The Drums are pretty damn good.

I listened to one last song (sorry, I’m not familiar enough with the group to know the title) and left Stubb’s. It was well into Saturday morning at this point, so I called it a night. But there were still many, many partiers littering Red River and downtown in general. They had two more days to enjoy!

Mar 272012
 

So Tuesday was the first day that SXSW Music wristbands were available. I got a ride in the early afternoon and made it through the already-heavy population density into the Austin Convention Center. I scoped out the building while moving through; it was nearly as packed as the sidewalk outside. No water fountains on the first level, either. As former SXSW alum David Byrne wrote and sang so many years ago: same as it ever was.

When I got into the badge/wristband pickup area I was greeted by the usual, inevitable, mile-long lines of festival goers. Such an interesting mass of humanity. You can tell which people are new, which people are ready to make a fashion statement (and thus look totally out of place biding their time in line) and who are the long-term veterans. The veterans are dressed for movement and heat; lots of shorts and baseball caps. They don’t look as good as some of the others, but they definitely won’t ruin their nice clothes with sweat and exhaustion later in the afternoon.

It was something of a comedy of misunderstandings, as the press table told me to go through the general line and the people at the end of the general told me to go to the cashier. While waiting in the pileup at the cashier’s station, it became clear that multiple people had gone through the same haphazard process as me. Special attention from SXSW managers was the only thing that got me and these other people their badges/wristbands. While it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, it all eventually worked out.

The worst part of it was the overweight angry guy who was loudly yelling at the poor SXSW volunteers when he saw this waiting line fuzziness. Jeez, guy, everyone is going through the same thing as you. No one likes standing around. It’s not all about you.

I walked out of the Convention Center and made a streak down Sixth Street. At one intersection, a policeman was busy dismantling a impromptu setup of half-naked mannequins. Nudity would be a recurring event.

While there were numerous events surrounding me, I had decided to head all the way to Lamar for the free Delta Spirit show at Waterloo Records. The keg of free Shiner beer promised in the advert didn’t hurt, either. This won’t be a surprise, but Waterloo Records is one of my favorite shopping spots. It was super-crowded, but I still got in some good browsing. It was hard not to pick up something with the great deals I found; but I had to be strong – I’d need all my money this week for SXSW. Eventually announcements were made and a very stoked Delta Spirit started to perform their smooth-sailing Americana. They’ve actually got a few songs I’m familiar with (“California,” which is more notable than its oft-used title would imply). They moved through their numbers with a goodwill brought on by the somewhat cramped Waterloo stage. Check out that stage! I was lucky enough to find the beer line before too many people realized the keg was out, so overall I got the most out of this event.

As will happen at these vast, overflowing festivals, I ran into a good friend after the Delta Spirit show and we headed over to Lavaca Street Bar for discounted Tecates. We took a window seat and watched the partiers walk past. Some were dressed so provocatively it seemed impossible they weren’t from some featured act. On a more serious note, we also saw one person taken away on a EMS stretcher. But, true to the age we live in, he was working away on his iPhone while being loaded into the ambulance.

Also, these folks came by handing out flyers:

Volunteers of America.

After that we headed down to Sixth again in an attempt to catch any of the free shows that were going on in the bars. We found an electronica showcase at one of the upstairs lounges (not a show listed in the SXSW 2012 Pocket Guide), but between the first band’s punishing beats and loops, the fact that I wasn’t enjoying my Miller Lite very much and the delayed wait time between bands the momentum of that day’s SXSW gave out. The next group (sorry, I tried but couldn’t find any names) was a bit nicer to the eardrums in their melodic structures, but it didn’t hold my group to the spot. We finished our drinks and went home.

Oh, one last thing: as we were leaving Sixth Street, we spotted a person in full Boba Fett regalia. I can’t imagine it was comfortable or cool under that Mandalorian armor, but the guy looked awesome. My girlfriend told him to “watch out for the Sarlacc!,” to which Mr. Fett responded, with some annoyance, “I got out!” Guy was in character. So Tuesday ended on a pretty cool note, actually.

He's gotta get back to the Slave 1

Wednesday, March 14th

I used the Austin Metroliner for the first time in my life. This is a great way to get downtown, actually, as the ride is peaceful and you get some great views of parts of Austin a lot of people aren’t familiar with. And it’ll take you from Kramer to that stop at Trinity and 4th street in front of the Convention Center. So I’m definitely keeping that in my memory banks for next year.

My first stop was The Parish, because venue manager Travis Newman had clued me into a free showcase involving The Frontier Brothers and Shearwater, among others. I missed The Frontier Brothers and Mother Falcon, who were playing earlier than I was able to arrive, but did manage to see What Made Milwaukee Famous and Shearwater. Milkwaukee is a good-time, party band with some great pop hooks. Shearwater, which at least four people told me were awesome before they went on, really surprised me. A sound closer to Radiohead than The Allman Brothers (which is what I expected from their vaguely Americana-name) made Shearwater one of SXSW 2012′s most energizing surprises for me. They’re from Austin, having been founded by members of Okkervil River, but this music doesn’t sound “Austin-regional” in the least. It’s atmospheric while still finding those crushing grooves that prevent the songs from becoming too mannered. Definitely a name to check out further.

After The Parish I walked down Sixth and downtown, seeing the practically-anonymous bands in the bars thrash and kick for a continually-changing sea of faces outside and inside the pubs. I eventually found my way to La Zona Rosa, but realized upon arrival I had pulled a total rookie move and misread my SXSW booklet. So, time for retreat. I headed back to my car and went east, because New York trio fun. was playing a showcase at 1100 Warehouse (a venue I had never been to before).

It was the 101X Showcase at the East Fifth location, right across the street from other, obviously-popular showcases at special, built-for-SXSW-only venues that I didn’t get the chance to go to. Maybe it was the Foursquare outpost, I don’t know. I stood in the line to 1100 Warehouse for about twenty minutes before getting in; no big complaints on that front. I came it right before 9 PM, which was enough time to pick up a $6 Heineken (the best deal available) and get in place for London’s Tribes. Their debut album, Baby, was released earlier this year. But I don’t think I’m gonna go pick it up. While Tribes was fun, good-natured and had a few catchy stretches in their set, overall it was a bit forgettable and same-ish. Those English accents killed in the between-song banter, though.

And now we come to the biggest disappointment of SXSW 2012. Although Tribes’ show went off without a hitch (and the mix sounded quite good), there was inexplicable silence at 10:10, ten minutes after fun. was supposed to start. The crowd figured it was the same kind of unexpected delay that often shows up at a hurried showcase, but everyone started to get restless at 10:30 PM. It got ugly soon after, with widespread boos and chants of “bullshit!” popping over around the crowd. It was apparently a major power outage, as no one seemed to be able to get microphone one to make a blip. It didn’t help that communication was hindered; I’m sure those sound guys on the stage were working hard and probably very stressed out, but to the crowd they looked like they were just walking around the stage with no direction. It would’ve been okay if someone could’ve made an announcement and explained the problem, but that was of course impossible.

Finally, one microphone came to life and a representative of 101X, or maybe 1100 Warehouse, assured the crowd that “fun. will be coming soon!” He could’ve explained why there was such a delay, but no luck there.

Finally, at 10:55, Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost came onstage. Ruess was the definition of apologetic: “I am so sorry, you guys. This is bullshit, I’m not an easily angered person! We promise we’ll play a great show to make up for this.” Even then, the stage only had power to the microphones, so fun.’s whirling, carnivalesque electro-textures were missing. Antonoff and Dost accompanied Ruess on acoustic guitar and electric keyboard, and the result was a shortened, impromptu acoustic show. fun. only played four songs, but managed to get in two extremely strong tracks each from their great 2009 debut Aim and Ignite (“The Gambler” and “At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)”) and this year’s even-better Some Nights (“Carry On” and cathartic hit “We Are Young”). fun. will show up here later, and it’s a great comeback. Still, it was a bittersweet walk back to the car at 11:30.  I could’ve stayed out longer, but some people have to work in the morning, you know?

Mar 162012
 

MOVIES

21 Jump Street - A strong comedy showing at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, with this Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum comedic revamp leading the charge.

Casa de mi Padre - Will Ferrell speaks Spanish in this comedy adventure, another SXSW premiere.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home - The latest from the Duplass Brothers, who continue to grow as filmmakers. This film stars Jason Segal as a shiftless man set on an absurd, surreal journey. Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer co-star.

MUSIC/OTHER (AKA A Whole Bunch of SXSW Showcases!)

FRIDAY

Auditorium Shores – The SXSW free concerts continue with Americana rock veterans Counting Crows. Nashville’s Diamond Rugs and San Francisco’s Tender Mercies back the show up. Starts at 5:45 – 6 PM.

Red Eyed Fly – The Sounds from Spain Showcase. Vetusta Morla, Guadalupe Plata, Za! and more, starting at 7:30 pm.

Continental Club – Austin’s Edison Chair opens the Rajiworld showcase, and Austin’s Akina Adderly & The Vintage Playboys close it down. Other artists on the bill: Peter Case & Paul Collins, Billy Harvey and Triple Cobra. Starts at 8 PM.

Stubb’s – Fans of New York’s fun. will get another chance to see them for real after that near-disastrous technical meltdown at 1100 Warehouse. The Time Out North America showcase will also feature Delta Spirit, The Drums and The Ting Tings. Starts at 8 PM with Ed Sheeran.

La Zona Rosa – Talib Kweli at the Blacksmith Duck Down showcase. Among others, Smif N Wessun, Buckshot and Bad Rabbits (who are also playing at Palm Door at 11 PM!) will play. Starts at 9 PM.

SATURDAY

LBJ Lawn at University of Texas Austin (2313 Red River St. Austin, TX 78705) – Special performances by Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes will accompany a screening of their tour documentary Big Easy Express. Venue change reported here! Doors at 6:30 PM.

Austin Music Hall – Timbaland will headline Perez Hilton’s One Night in Austin. Also playing, with many others: DEV, The Ting Tings (again!), Cher Lloyd and Kreayshawn. Doors at 7:15 PM.

18TH Floor at Hilton Garden Inn – Mississippi Development showcase. Charlie Mars, Shannon McNally, Eden Brent, Johnny Rawls among others. Doors at 8 PM.

The Tap Room at Six – A night of Austin artists for SXSW 2012′s penultimate night. Danny Malone, Suzanna Choffel, David Ramirez and David Garza, with a few others, at 8 PM.

Chevrole Sound Garage – Quiet Company, playing one of the last of their nine shows. Guards, GIVERS and the Secret Walls Final Battle hosted by Reeps One. Starts at 8 PM.

The Jacked Stage by Doritos – Check out White Denim, Run DMT and !!!, with guests, starting at 8 PM.

Antone’s – An interesting lineup headed by Candlebox. Austin’s The Canvas Waiting will also play, and there will be a special guest. Starts at 8:25 PM.

Empire Automotive – The Warp Records/Brainfeeder showcase. Daedelus, TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke & Lunice) and TOKiMONSTA head the wild night. Doors at 8 PM.

Clive Bar – The last chance to see The Belle Brigade. Graffiti 6 closes it out, as well. Doors at 9 PM.

SUNDAY

The Jr – Close it out with the SXSW Music Free Closing Party. Lederhosen Lucil, DJ Jester the Filipino Fist and Fort Worth’s Best Fwends. At 1 AM a special, to-be-announced artist will perform. Starts at 8 PM.

Mar 122012
 

Yesterday (and today) AME brought you a list of local artists playing at SXSW 2012. Now it’s time for the really big names as we list our recommendations for national acts coming through town during this exciting week.

The Belle Brigade

Not sure if you’re aware, but The Belle Brigade’s self-titled debut was one of the best records of 2011. The L.A.-based, brother/sister duo are coming to SXSW 2012 to build off of last year’s momentum. They are playing Mike Galaxy’s 13th Annual Day Party on Thursday, March 15th at 4 PM. See the rest of the lineup here.

Friday, March 16th, 8:20 PM, Home Slice Pizza - A special secret show!

Saturday, March 17th, 10 PM, Clive Bar – The Belle Brigade performs in a lineup that includes Greylag, Kids These Days, Lissy Trullie and Graffiti6.

Of Montreal

Kevin Barnes’ prolific, eclectic, ambitious indie rock institution will also be at Emo’s East for the Polyvinyl Records Party on Thursday, March 15th. They are headlining a line-up that includes Deerhoof, Japandroids with Owen, Les Bonhommes and Dusted. That starts at 8 PM.

Saturday, March 17th, 6 PM, Clive Bar – The band is on at 6 PM as part of S.O.Terik Now.Art! Showcase. You can RSVP here, but beware: RSVP does not guarantee admission. Show up early.

fun.

If I may be terribly pretentious, I knew New York symphonic pop trio fun. was special nearly three years ago when their debut album, Aim and Ignite, contained some of the best music of 2009. Now the band is back with their second record, Some Nights, and a big hit in “We Are Young.” That single signals the sophomore effort’s more electronic, synth-based approach. Looks like fun. is well on its way to stardom, so expect their Friday, March 16 set at Stubb’s (11:00 PM) for the Paradigm Showcase to be pretty packed. They’ll play with a packed lineup: Ed Sheeran, Of Monsters and Men, Avalanche City, Delta Spirit, Elle King, Devin, The Drums, The Pierces and The Ting Tings.

There are a lot of other chances to see fun. Here’s the full line-up:

Wednesday March 14th, 2:50 – 3:20 PM, Warner Sound @ La Zona Rosa (More Info: http://thewarnersound.com/sxsw)

5PM – 5:30 PM,  Acoustic Set at Waterloo Records (More Info: http://www.facebook.com/events/327113777326232/)

10PM – 10:40 PM, KROX Showcase at 1100 Warehouse (More Info: http://www.krox.com/Concerts/Details.aspx?ConcertID=160674)

Thursday March 15th, 4PM, Woodies Festival @ Red River & 1st Street (More Info / Stream Online: http://www.mtv.com/ontv/woodieawards/2012/)

M. Ward and The Shins

This one’s easy. The annual free shows at Auditorium Shores are always a treat, and this year there are notable guests on each night. However, the Thursday, March 15th lineup is this editor’s personal favorite. Dirty blues duo Little Hurricane will open the show at 5:45 PM, then it’s on to one of America’s greatest modern singers, songwriters and guitarists. M. Ward has been busy with She & Him and Monsters of Folk for the past few years, but he’ll be playing tracks from his forthcoming, new solo release A Wasteland Companion at the Shores.

And if we’re talking about forthcoming, anticipated releases, The Shins’ long-awaited fourth album Port of Morrow will drop on March 20th. That means James Mercer (speaking of great modern singer/songwriters) has an opportunity five days prior on Thursday to show the new songs. And the new band, as Mercer has effectively re-built The Shins since 2007′s great Wincing The Night Away.

The Beatles Complete on Ukelele

Appropriately, this one’s open for everyone. From noon to 6 PM at Hickory Street on Thursday, March 15th, Ukelele master and record producer Roger Greenawalt is going to play all 185 songs in The Beatles catalog. Holy crap. A backing band/rotating cast of guest musicians (including Kat Edmonson, Suzanna Choffel, Nakia, Lovely Liar, Leah Siegel, Gary Marcus, Lovely Liar and more) will back him up. The public is invited to join (if they can uke it up) for the Uke Mob on the first three songs. Free, no RSVP required.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

This goes out to Badge and Wristband holders only. And, honestly, even if you have one of those it’s gonna be hard to get in. It is the opinion of your editor that other than Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen is the best rock musician America has ever produced. He’s going to be the keynote speaker for 2012 on March 15th, and that’s going on at the Austin Convention Center. But that night he’ll play one of his legendary, probably 3-hour concerts. The chance to see an “intimate” concert with the E Street Band is not to be missed. Especially as they’re going to be playing material from the recently-released Wrecking Ball, the best album Springsteen has released in a decade. The venue is still being kept under wraps, and tickets must be obtained via entrance into a special raffle drawing. You can read the rules here. Good luck.

But if you don’t get into see Springsteen, don’t fret. Obviously, there’s a plethora of great things to pick from here. Chart your course and rock on.

Stay tuned to AME for more SXSW details.