The South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin doesn't exactly discourage attendance by those outside of the music writing/performing/promotion/peddling professions. A good deal of the revenue generated by the "festival" comes from normal (not in the negative sense) music fans and social butterflies who pay astronomical sums for wristbands that nonetheless grant questionable and confusing levels of access. Meaning, of course, if you simply want to see some one-of-a-kind performances (reunions, for instance) or enjoy the untouchable variety offered by the 1,800-plus artists scheduled to perform, it behooves you to find some "official" reason for taking the financial and time-consuming plunge that is SXSW.
In response to all this, an array of "anti-SXSW" events have popped up not only in Austin itself (most notably promoter Sean Carlson's "Mess With Texas" extravaganzas) but in cities — such as our own — that are geographically positioned along the touring routes to and from Austin.
One such festival, the Ides of March Festival (not to be confused with Rhodes College's annual event of the same name), makes its fan-friendly debut Sunday, March 15th, at The Buccaneer. It's an unbeatable deal for $5: a cookout at noon followed by 11 bands on one stage (there will be no confusion between the OfficeMax/Blender Magazine/Whole Foods/Gerber Baby Food Stage and the Oreck Vacuums/Mattel Games/Ibanez Guitars Stage at this festival), starting at 3 p.m. and ending who-knows-when.
So what's in store? The exact band order wasn't set as of this writing, but you can expect the following highlights: The Magic Kids — an offshoot of the local band The Barbaras — will dial up the glam-rock element (an educated guess here, based on the word "magic" in the band's name).
The Magic Kids features six-sevenths of the parent band's lineup. Nebraska's Brimstone Howl play distorted, '90s trash rock in the vein of the Oblivians and Cheater Slicks, while local faves The Oscars will do what they do best: rocking hard in a shambling, late-'70s/early-'80s fashion. The event is being organized by Cole Weintraub, whose psych-folk band Girls of the Gravitron will round out the local contingent.
Gonerfest alumni Psychedelic Horseshit are an outfit that should still attract the curious with what continues to be one of the decade's greatest band names. Often described as "lo fi," the Ohio band is indeed fidelity-challenged, sometimes to a fault. Even so, music fans of a certain vintage will hear echoes of '90s noise-laden bedroom-pop troubadours like early Sebadoh.
Detroit may be the media's punchline for socioeconomic troubles, but the rapidly shrinking population is yet again giving up the goods within the arena of interesting rock-and-roll. First off, prepare to get blown away eight times over by Frustrations, a band that gives white-hot post-punk angularity a warm garage-pop embrace. Also from the Motor City is Tyvek, another band with Gonerfest ties. Like a record nerd's fantasy basketball team, the Detroit five-piece evokes equal parts Pere Ubu, the Fall, and the Country Teasers across a slew of releases that should come with a handy decoder key.
Space constraints don't allow decent descriptions of every participant in the Ides of March Festival, though let it be known that the lineup also includes The Weakends (from France), Air Waves (Brooklyn), The Beets (Brooklyn), and something known only as Irish Folk Rock Lady.