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In these crazy, scary times, I hope you and your family and your friends are all as safe as is possible. With virus concerns and all the impact it is having on people’s lives/work/education/travel here is a little diversion.

I should be at SXSW this week but obviously it was cancelled.

Here is my Fantasy SXSW 2020 review. If you don’t want to read about a load of great acts you have probably never heard of stop here and let me know to take you off the list as I will send a few more notes out.

SXSW 2020

Every year I compile a list of bands that I would like to see at SXSW but of course with many bands playing at the same time and the venues fairly well spread it is always impossible to see my definitive list. I usually start with around 150 acts that I would like to see, predominantly bands that I have never seen before, indeed, never heard of, before I started researching who was playing Austin that year. I would say on average over the years I would see about 50% of the bands from my list..

Now that SXSW 2020 is cancelled I got to thinking what would it be like if I somehow could see every single band that I wanted to. My research for 2020 listings was easily the most I had undertaken….plenty of time to do that. It threw up the best line up of great unknown to me acts ever!!! This was the year I most looked forward to.

So, this would have been day one!!!!! And it is the best ever Day one ever!!!!!

Day One. Monday.


From London, yet another inspired by the classic Gang of Four meets The Slits sound and a great way to kick off Fantasy SXSW 2020.



Berlin had some of the best new bands scheduled for 2020. Ilgen-nur has hooks and a voice to kill for.


Walt Disco

Always a stunning Scottish band every SXSW. This year would have been Glasgow’s Walt Disco. They describe themselves as Crooning vocals, angular guitars and dark shimmering synths. They are the bastard sons of Billy McKenzie of the Associates meeting Ziggy Stardust and I think they will go far.


The Bright Light Social Hour

Brilliant psyche rock band from Austin. Actually saw them play SXSW in 2019 and on tour in PDX. Would have broken my rules to go see them again.


Sofia Portanet

On opening night of 2020 SXSW it looked like being taken over by German acts. Here is another, like a Lena Lovich for our times. What a voice.



And another, from Cologne, they sing in German, French and English and shame the politicians with their credo -" Witness what it really means to be part of an open Europe"


Black Country, New Road.

This Cambridge, England, act say their sound is "At times, colossal metal riffs mangle with frenetic jazz freakouts; occasionally film noir string motifs are motored into the urgent present with a razortight rhythm section” Certainly one off the weirdest sounds… For those of you who remember, they are like a madder early Split Enz...


Kaelan Mikla

An Icelandic synth punk trio…. I mean what else do you need to know to go listen?


The fin.

Lets stay with the eighties synth pop inspiration and head to Kobe in Japan to hear this, what the kids today who like sub genres would describe as chill wave or dream pop, I guess.


Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird

It would only have been Day One but already I would have seen the best band named band of the festival. Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird from Melbourne also have my single most favourite song that I have discovered in my search for bands to see. Another hugely influenced by the early eighties UK scene of The The, Simple Minds and Human League. I defy you to listen Ito this, oh five times, and not love it forever.



Formerly Happy Meals Ltd before Ronald’s big bad company threatened to sue, this is the hottest band in the UK right now with an amazing live show. If they don’t achieve world domination then every band should give up. The Times said, yes ,The Times, “Yet again the top prize for high-voltage performance went to HMLTD, the peacock-haired electro-punk provocateurs whose raucous set crackled with knowing nods to Bowie, Iggy and Nick Cave”


And with that Day One would be over. It would have been magical.

Day Two. Tuesday.


So I would have been thinking how could I possibly top Day One but then the first act I would have seen on Tuesday would have been my all time favourite band (equal with Magazine and early Roxy Music) and that is Wire. I have followed them since 1977. They still bring out a new album every two years or so. They are amazing live. I so wanted to see them about five times across all the afternoon parties. Anyway. Here is one other earliest songs from “77 followed by one of their newest from this year. 43 years in between. Special band.



Gross Net

So many different things to explore at SXSW, so I would have gone to see this Belfast industrial band with a techno electro feel and obvious Wire fans I would say.


Mercy Bell

A whole day and a third and not yet seen any Americana. So Mercy Bell, the openly queer Filipino/American from Nashville would have blown me away. Another of the great voices of the moment. A heartbreaking sound.


Ryan Cassata

Sometimes, or rather, often, others can say it better. So here is the SXSW bio: Ryan Cassata is an award winning singer-songwriter, actor, performer, writer, LGBTQ activist & motivational speaker based in Los Angeles…. the first openly trans performer at the Vans Warped Tour, along with performing at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Green Show, Ryan has been praised by The Advocate Magazine- calling him a “Transgender singing sensation.” Billboard Magazine called Ryan a “true force in the industry“, put him on the "11 Transgender & Non-Binary Musicians You Need to Know" list and premiered his award winning music video "Daughter" which has been viewed over 750,000 times.



Straight up post punk noise from Chicago with a crap name, which is a trend with new bands I notice.



First ever Farncophile act signed by Sub Pop in their 33 year history Corridor, from Montreal ,who say they have darting and dodging guitars, spiraling vocal harmonies, and the complicated, goldenrod nostalgia of a Sunday mid-afternoon. And. You know what? They do.


Bang Bang Romeo

From the hotbed of indie dance big sound Doncaster !!! In Yorkshire, England. You will be hearing a lot more about lead Anastasia Walker….



More top electronic indie from London. Actually this would have been a typical filler show for me, watch two songs and leave, but pleasant enough.


Petrol Girls

Petrol Girls are a feminist post-hardcore punk band, originally formed in London, with members from Austria, Lithuania and the UK. Now based in Austria. And, are they angry or what?


Icaro Del Sol

After the previous noise I would have searched out a little calmer and found it in this Santiago, Chile’s electronic sound.


Reb Fountain.

More mellow. More Americana. One of Auckland’s well kept secrets. Lovely geetar sound too.


Beach Slang

I would have been breaking my own rules all day (especially not going to see bands I had seen before) but after seeing Wire my favourite old band, I would have had to go see Beach Slang, my favourite band of the last ten years (equal with Broken Social Scene). They are the best indie rock pop band on the planet right now. Their lyrics are quite special.


Sports Team

One of the most recommended acts by my good friends Simon and Dave in the UK. They have raved about this London band for ages and I can see why. Raucus rocks us. Sorry.


Quinn Christopherson

Quinn Christopherson is an Athabaskan and Inupiaq songwriter who was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, just yer typical act then. The definition of a quirky singer songwriter. But is it just me but does he sing in the sam way that Bill Murray’s character speaks in Caddyshack?



NYC’s own version of Glasgow’s Churches. Not a bad tribute.


Thin Lear

Can anyone tell me why I took an interest in this act? Queens-based songwriter Thin Lear (Matt Longo) has always been drawn to the stories of forgotten eccentrics, but rarely haunted by their subjects. And yet, upon the reading of 1920’s occultist Netta Fornario, and her misunderstood demise on a tiny island off of Scotland, he unearthed the inspiration for a surreal and ethereal collection of songs.


Cuffed Up

To end the night an LA act. This shows how west coast USA take something they love from the UK then put their more mainstream take on it. UK punk became Blonk 182 and Green Day. Thi band say they are inspired by IDLES and Shame….this is what a decent LA band should like asa result.


And Day Two would be over. A fine day two 17 acts from all over the world. By the way, copious amounts of info that I share here is freely available on the bands own links, not a lot of originality from myself.