They want you to to think that anyone with an ounce of musical creativity will be in Austin this week. If you wanted to go to SXSW, and for some reason can't make it, you may have convinced yourself that the aforementioned statement is true. Never fear, those who have been left behind. There will be music outside deep in the heart of Texas. In fact, some of that music will be in D.C. metropolitan area. Furthermore, she who created my favorite record of 2011 will be in town on Saturday. Let's eat a big helping of sour grapes, enjoy our shows, and be thankful we're not waiting in those lines.
We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges.
Monday, March 12 - Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker & Yim Yames: The Birchmere
If the idea of the members of Son Volt, My Morning Jacket, Centro-matic, and Varnaline getting together to put otherwise lost words of Woody Guthrie to music sounds good to you, then you should attend this show. There's no mystery to this one. Either it sounds like the perfect evening or you would much prefer a night of watching paint dry. Perhaps there's a middle ground, but I'm just not seeing it.
Not Attending - Roomrunner: Black Cat
Borne of the percussive portion of Double Dagger's ashes, Roomrunner features the former Baltimore band's drummer Denny Bowen. I wouldn't risk assuming that if you liked one group you'll like another, but I certainly wouldn't shy away from making the recommendation if your tastes trend in that general direction.
Wednesday, March 14 - Obits: Black Cat
Upbeat post-punk seems to thrive in our city when there's a large post in the middle of the room. With D.C. in their blood, Obits will be no different. Their influences span decades, and are worn on sleeves collectively. On Wednesday, the backstage at the Black Cat is Obits' garage.
Thursday, March 15 - Jenny Owen Youngs: Red Palace
Jenny Owen Youngs swings with pop sensibilities, but remains grounded in strong folk story-telling. Her lyrics are strong and her voice is sweet. Naivete isn't a required ingredient for music that is easy on the ears. Wisdom may be gained, mistakes be made, and hearts even broken. Youngs know it all and tells it all. If she's the slightest bit jaded, she won't take it out on us.
Friday, March 16 - Dr. Dog: 9:30 Club
Lighthearted pop music that exists somewhere between lo-fi and straight ahead rock will stream smoothly from the best PA in town on Friday night. Dr. Dog meshes multi-part harmonies and clear homages to the music of half a century ago, but they're no rehash -- not even a revival. Dr. Dog are their own band, and they're pretty damn good.
Not Attending - Rosie Thomas: Jammin' Java
Rosie Thomas is worth paying attention to apart from her connection to others (Damien Jurado and Sufjan Stevens) and her participation in the dream-pop group Velour 100. Thomas is a singer-songwriter to be reckoned with, playing well with others, but needing no accompaniment.
Saturday, March 17 - EMA: U Street Music Hall
As previously mentioned, Past Life Martyred Saints was my favorite album of 2011. The darkness expressed doesn't fortify the fourth wall, it breaks it down. This relationship between artist and audience will be heightened on Saturday night, as Anderson delivers on stage just as she does on record. All the while, she commands her post in front front of the microphone like Roger Daltrey, making every precise muscle movement count.
Not Attending - Rich Robinson: Red Palace
Frankly, the appeal of a Rich Robinson solo show would be to see the guitarist from the Black Crowes. The reason I would try and make it to two concerts in one night would be to see Amy LaVere open up. LaVere has roots in Detroit and history in Nashville, so her brand of country and folk is not your typical update of the classics. Her sound isn't just emotional or angry, it's dangerous too.