With so many bands in Austin during SXSW it is easy to get them confused. Or maybe you had a few too many Lone Stars and just plain can't remember which band was which. This handy reference sheet is a certifiable source if you're in a jam and need to name-drop the latest buzz band, and each assessment is 140 characters or less just so you can easily send out a snarky tweet.
Fierce Creatures: after Arcade Fire's success we will see a lot of rip offs get promoted - don't lump Fierce Creatures into that group, they are the real deal.
Alex Winston: feels like she is alone on stage and completely ignoring her full band & three backup singers. A homeless man's Lykke Li at best.
Penguin Prison: this tiny New York denizen incited a penguin prison riot with his dance moves. I wonder if that is how he met his giant bass player?
Wye Oak: after seeing so many leading ladies do little more than sing and play the tambourine it's nice to see Wye Oak wield her guitar like a weapon.
Geographer: lead singer was riding his bike and got hit by a car last week so he was on crutches but it didn't affect his awesome vocals & looping beats.
Ellie Goulding: of all the 2011 buzz bands Ellie Goulding was the most disappointing - weak lyrics, forgettable stage presence, no gusto in her voice.
Pulled Apart By Horses: the lead singer was rocking so hard he poured beer on the crowd and then vomited. Only at SXSW would this be considered awesome, which it is.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: thought Detroit only made cars but apparently the city has a lively music scene. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is representing well.
Oh Land: giant lifelike image of an owl on lead singer Nanna Fabricius' billowing excuse for a shirt is distracting me from how good the music is.
The Vaudeville Smash: perfect soundtrack for a montage in an 80s movie; lead man in red shoes is doin' the classy thing & selling out for a Tuesday afternoon show.
Low: Alan Sparhawk just cursed out the stage manager but only because he keeps getting electrocuted by the sound system, so it seems warranted.
Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt: dancing under a parachute-sized, hand-stitched quilt and screaming with the crowd 'you make my heart explode!!' = favorite SXSW memories.
Fitz and the Tantrums: great onstage chemistry between Fitz and his main tantrum leads to a raucous party for the fans that came to get down.
DOM: they sound just like they look, which isn't a bad thing, but they aren't particularly classy dressers.
Suuns: pronounced soons, the band's rocking set got cut way too short, which is an unfortunate downside of having 1900 bands in one city at once.
ANR: sitting on the patio of Karibu Ethiopian restaurant with no more than 15 other dedicated fans watching future rock stars in the making.
Chromeo: Chromeo puts on the quintessential dance party. Never left a show without being entirely covered in sweat, and this was the sweatiest of all.
James Blake: downtempo electronic beats and soulful vocals may not lend itself to a sunny Austin afternoon, but Blake is talented enough to make it work.
Dam Mantle: electronic artists' ideal venue is underground club & heavy bass, instead he's performing for people milling like zombies towards free tacos.
DJ $mall ¢hange: should have seen the amazing safari animal shirt this DJ was wearing, cant remember what kind of music he spun but the shirt was exceptional.
Eliza Doolittle: a different color nail polish for each fingernail and a red polka-dotted dress dressed up her music which makes for cute, frivolous fun.
Cults: the lyrics to "Go Outside" carry much more weight when you are, in fact, outside and can soak in some rays.
Young the Giant: indie boy band, not meant as a diss, but it's five hipster guys with various styles of facial hair. At least they play their own instruments.
Dinosaur Pile Up: an actual pileup of dinosaurs would be much more exciting, but above average grungy guitar rock is a decent consolation prize.
Ali Holder and Train Robbin Whiskey: each component played great on its own but the individual pieces shone brighter than the whole. It was band's last show together, too bad.
Friendly Fires: it's a good thing frontman Ed MacFarlane isn't self-conscious about pit sweat because he danced himself into a whole new sweaty stratosphere.
Versus: said they would never come back to SXSW because it was too crazy on the streets. This is not a music festival for the weak so be on your way.
Washed Out: last year he was riding the wave of popularity behind his minimalist genre, but in 2011 he was far removed from the hype. R.I.P. chillwave.
Prince Rama: sometimes you can catch the last half of a show and immediately get into the flow; Prince Rama is not one of those bands. Arrive on time.
TV on the Radio: the Brooklyn boys are disappointing live, too much going on for all the layers to come together, but still looking forward to the next album.
O'Death: drummer attached real chains to his drumstick and splayed the metal across the drum for several songs, such a unique noise element.
Rich Aucoin: his equipment fits in carry-on luggage and is wrapped in neon tape, including the projector & parachute he breaks out for crowd's enjoyment.
Sleigh Bells: played the same songs as last year, only in 2010 they were still new and exciting. Now they're just loud and obnoxious.
Lonely Forest: heed the advice off their hit single "Turn Off This Song and Go Outside" because after that song, band isn't offering too much else.
Tune-Yards: it can take a while to get into the unconventional sound of Tune-Yards, unfortunately for many people that listening curve is too long.
The Seedy Seeds: with electro on the rise there will be failed attempts at genre-mixing, but Seedy Seeds found their niche with an intriguing banjo hybrid.
Kids of '88: not intimidated by a small crowd at a small venue, these New Zealanders took the show off the stage and danced with the crowd.
Follow Mark R. Collins on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Markswords