The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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North by Southwest to give Austin a run for its money

This is the time of year we all duck for cover in the hopes that midterms are all one big collective bad dream.

If they are, I’d wake up soon. Because starting this Saturday, the biggest week in music for the entire year happens. No, it’s not the Grammy’s, and it sure as hell isn’t the CMAs. I’m talking about South by Southwest.

The weeklong festival of music and movies has long been the place to be to experience great music first, be surprised by old favorites and see your favorite band stumbling drunk down Sixth Street at 4 a.m. However, it does have a downfall: ticket prices. Over the past few years, the festival has become bloated with corporate greed, and as a result, prices for the wristbands required to attend much of what’s going on have skyrocketed into the 100-dollar range.

This year, though, consider yourself lucky. Because you and me, we’re buds, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you can enjoy the festival without paying for it. “Ridiculous!” you might scream, and you might be right, but as I discovered when I went last year, the plan is crazy enough to work.

First of all, you have options here in Dallas. If you feel like elongating your week of music by a few days or would rather not go to Austin, you can simply stay here for the wonderful SXSW substitute, the North by Southwest festival. Starting this Saturday afternoon at Ellum Onstage in Deep Ellum, you can see a few of the heavyweights of SXSW without paying SXSW prices to see them. A four-day pass to the festival is $65, a two-day pass is $30-$35, and day passes are $15-$20.

Here are some highlights of the festival:

Saturday at 8:30 p.m. San Marcos kings of epic ambiance, This Will Destroy You, play the indoor stage. At 9 p.m., Dallas’s own Polyphonic Spree plays the outdoor stage debuting new material from its new record in true psychedelic choral fashion.

Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on the indoor stage, Waco’s moody indie-rockers Ethan Durelle play songs from their long-awaited follow-up record (which has yet to be titled). Then at 9 p.m., take in the brooding folk rock of Okkervil River. Request “For Real” or “Song For Our So-Called Friend,” and I guarantee you’ll understand what all the hype is about.

Starting Monday at 5:45 p.m, a who’s who of some of the best artists in today’s indie rock scene (including instrumental heavyweights Six Parts Seven and Unwed Sailor) play. Then at 11 p.m. take in the endearingly cute husband-and-wife, drums-and-organ duo Mates of State.

Tuesday at 6 p.m. Maryland natives Page France bring their brand of historically and religiously themed simplistic folky pop to the stage. This is one band you might not have heard much about, but if you’re a fan of artists like Sufjan Stevens and The Shins this is a concert you won’t want to miss.

If you do feel like making the trek down to Austin for the madness that is SXSW, here are some of the best daytime shows to attend.

Oh, and they’re all free.

On Thursday March 15 at 12 p.m. at Emo’s for Ontario’s the Tokyo Police Club is playing. TPC is a fairly new band with only a seven-song EP under their belt, but these guys can play memorable retro-rock The Strokes would be pissed to know they didn’t write. Then stick around for comedians Patton Oswalt (“King of Queens”), Michael Showalter (Comedy Central’s “Stella” and “Wet Hot American Summer”), Aziz Ansari (his show debuts soon on MTV), Paul Sheer and Rob Huebel (VH1’s “Best Week Ever”).

If that isn’t really your thing, catch one of the best rappers out there, Brit Dizzee Rascal, at the Emo’s Annex at 12 p.m. Rascal’s rhymes aren’t just smart, they’re delivered in a cadence so original it’ll make your head spin.

Friday at 3 p.m. inside Waterloo Records, indie poppers Peter Bjorn and John will be playing. At 6 p.m., the legendary band featuring Iggy Pop, The Stooges, will assault listeners with old favorites (personally I want to hear “Search and Destroy” and “Dirt”) as well as new material. Be sure to get there early for this one, though, as it will fill up fast.

Finally, Saturday at noon head over to Snake Eyes Vinyl if you are in dire need of some loud, technical, fast and chaotic music. Metal/doom rockers Kylesa, Zeppelin-meets-Sabbath punk trio Akimbo and the electronic grind chaos of Genghis Tron will be some of the most mind blowingly original music at the entire festival.

Some last-minute advice: Even if none of these shows appeal to you, I’d highly suggest checking out www.showlistaustin.com for a list of even more free shows. And if you find yourself wandering down Red River in the wee hours of the morning, stay on the lookout because a lot of bands do surprise performances. (Last year it was the Beastie Boys.)

So it is possible to be a part of the excitement without having to pay for it. Get out there, have fun and be open to exploring the entire experience. You’ll probably find something you never expected.

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