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Just Passing Through

A guide to catching bands on the SXSW circuit from the comfort of your own bar


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In a few weeks, thousands of bands will descend upon Austin, Texas, like vultures on something freshly dead. The streets will run rampant with skinny jeans and Pabst Blue Ribbon, and no one within a five-mile radius of downtown Austin will be safe from the number of musicians, photographers, promoters, and music business hot shots lurking on the streets.

Started in 1987 as a small music festival with the goal of exposing the music industry to unsigned talent, South by Southwest (SXSW) has turned into the mother of all live-music spectacles, with thousands of bands expected to perform this year.

Luckily for music fans, the city of Memphis serves as a pit stop for many coming to and from SXSW, meaning that many of the festival's acts will be performing in familiar local venues. While this list is in no way comprehensive, here's a run-down of some of the shows happening in Memphis over the next week.

Hi-Tone, Monday, March 10th, 8 p.m. $8: The week of shows in Memphis starts off Monday night at the Hi-Tone, as Ohio's Swearing' at Motorists take the stage. Around for more than 15 years, this two-piece has been playing "low-fi" music since before it was cool, and fans of the Grifters or Pavement should take note. Also playing are the Shine Brothers, a band that has been touring seemingly non-stop since their album Hello Griefbirds was released in 2013. The Shine Brothers also feature ex-members of Indie heavyweights the Black Angels.

Hi-Tone Small Room, Tuesday, March 11th, 10 p.m. $7: Headlining the first ever show in the Hi-Tone's back room is Cleveland's Lamont Thomas under his noise rock alias Obnox. Also joining the fray is Columbus, Ohio, noisemakers Unholy Two, along with locals Manateees and recent Goner-Records signees the Nots.

The Buccaneer Lounge, Tuesday, March 11th, 8 p.m. $5: Comprised of Kelley Deal (of the Breeders,) and Mike Montgomery (of Ampline), R. Ring boasts a super-group lineup that probably won't be playing in such intimate spaces like The Buccaneer for very long. Also on the bill are locals Toxie, along with singer-songwriter Dave Cousar and Pittsburgh's Go To Beds.

Hi-Tone, Wednesday, March 12th, 8 p.m., $10: While Chuck Mosley might not be a household name, his resume of playing in heavy bands like the Bad Brains and Faith No More is second to none. With his group the Vanduls Ugainst Alliteracy, Mosley has been preaching the rap-rock gospel across the nation.

Hi-Tone, Thursday, March 13th, 8 p.m. $8: Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires return to Memphis Thursday night. A nice compliment to the roots rock scene in Memphis that features Valerie June and Amy LaVere, Lee Bains III sounds like he could have cooked up any of his southern hymns in Memphis instead of his hometown of Birmingham. Label mates the Dirty Streets are also on the bill.

Murphy's, Friday, March 14th, 8 p.m. $5: If you find yourself begging for more touring band action, Mouth Reader and Stale Phish will be performing at Murphy's along with locals Gimp Teeth and Special Victims Unit. Although they're not on tour for SXSW, Mouth Reader still puts on a hell of a live show, and Murphy's seems like the perfect venue for such an occasion.

Hi-Tone, Saturday, March 15th, 5 p.m. $15: Around since the early '90s, Clenched Fist put Memphis hardcore punk on the map along with bands like Raid and Copout. The band's first show in quite some time also boasts new locals Reserving Dirtnaps and a lineup of national hardcore bands: Lifeless, Criminal Instinct, Chaos Order, Bad Habits, Nothing Til Death, and Bail.

Hi-Tone, Sunday March 16th, 8 p.m. $10: On tour in support of their new album, Singles, Future Islands is also scheduled to make an appearance at Coachella this year, making the Hi-Tone gig a cheap opportunity to see this buzz band.

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