Photo Highlights from SXSW 2014 Music

Each year, thousands of bands from all over the world descend on SXSW to perform for music lovers and industry leaders. From rap to rock, SXSW has something for every musical taste. These were some of my favorite performances and musical moments from 2014:

Thumpers at the British Music Assembly & Paste Party – This young British delivers non-stop catchy hooks that (true to their name) get toes thumping. For a first taste, listen to “Unkinder.”

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Albert Hammond Jr at Hype Hotel – This guitarist from the Strokes continues to impress with his own musical endeavor and it looks like he is having more fun forever. When he wasn’t showcasing his musical strengths, Albert Hammond Jr was showing his physical strength, taking a moment for pull ups from the rafters. For a first taste, listen to “In Transit.”

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Cee Lo Green at Rachael Ray’s party – Cee Lo’s become better known as a host on the voice, but for SXSW he returned to the stage for a memorable performance backed by scantily clad ladies. When you were able to pry your eyes away from the spectacle, you had to give Cee Lo props for his strong, mewling vocals. For a first taste, listen to “Bright Lights, Bigger City.”

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Bleachers at MTVU Woodie Awards – Jack Antonoff of fun. fame debuted his side project Bleachers at SXSW and it was like a more frantic, eccentric version of fun’s sound. For a first taste, listen to “I Wanna Get Better.”

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The Noise Fm at Chuggin Monkey – This Chicago-by-way-of-Kansas alt rock band mixes sleek, rhythmic sounds with a fun sense of humor. Their set was so energetic and entertaining that they were literally drawing people in from the street. For a first taste, listen to “Keep Me in the Dark.”

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Foster the People at Butler Park – These SXSW alums were invited back to headline a free show in Butler Park for attendees and Austinites. It was also the first taste of their sophomore album for many fans and they haven’t lost any charm. For a first taste, listen to “Houdini.”

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Blondie at Rachael Ray’s & Perez Hilton’s parties – Debbie Harry is a living legend and it was a blast to watch this influential New Wave act return to the stage and prove why’re the so loved and reveled. For a first taste, listen to “Heart of Glass.”

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Lindsey Stirling at Perez Hilton’s party – Lindsey found fame for her sci fi/fantasy/video game covers on the violin. Not only is she a skilled musician, but also a flexible dancer and her mixing of the two art forms makes for a spectacular show. For a first taste, listen to “Crystallize.”

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American Authors at MTVU Woodie Awards & Perez Hilton’s party – These guys are all smiles as they sing about happy days and good times while bouncing back and forth between extra drums and microphones. For a first taste, listen to “Luck.”

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Phantogram at MTVU Woodie Awards – This duo plays danceable, dark club tunes, but they proved they could still rock during the day as they drew one of the biggest crowds at the MTVU awards. For a first taste, listen to “Black Out Days.”

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Magic Man at Hype Hotel – An effervescent young group from Boston with upbeat tunes — including a song called “Texas,” which was perfect for SXSW. For a first taste, listen to “Paris.”

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Sylvan Esso at Hype Hotel – This band proved to me that first impressions are deceiving. When I first saw a grunge-looking chick with giant platform shoes walk up to the microphone, I was shocked to hear the sultry sounds of Sylvan Esso come out. For a first taste, listen to “Coffee.”

Betty Who at Perez Hilton party – Technical problems couldn’t hold Betty Who back, and she expertly made due on a few scaled back acoustic numbers until her extra electronics could be plugged in. While she’s a bit more fun doing her dance hits with their full sound, I still applaud her adeptness and adaptability. For a first taste, listen to “Somebody Loves You.”

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Soundgarden on a garage roof – These grunge rockers made their SXSW debut in spectacular fashion. First they played “Superunknown” in its entirety for the 20th anniversary, then they played a garage rooftop in downtown Austin. For a first taste, listen to “Black Hole Sun.”

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Broken Bells in a warehouse – Seeing James Mercer with the Shins or Danger Mouse alone is a blast, but together is magic. For a brief moment, it was easy to forget the hectic hustle and bustle of SXSW and get lost in the sounds of Broken Bells. For a first taste, listen to “The High Road.”

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