While catching local SxSWers, Dear and the Headlights, Kinch, The Love Me Nots, The Maine, Miniature Tigers, and What Laura Says throughout the year should be some consolation, sometimes you wanna see a national act.
We crunched the numbers and, sadly, even restricting expenditures to road-tripping the 17 hours it takes to reach the 512 and subsisting on 85-cent Tamale House breakfast tacos once you're there doesn't get you the precious SxSW badge ($695!) you'll need to catch the performances everyone will be tweeting about. But you can get a good sampling here, using this quick and dirty guide to catching some of the buzz-worthiest performers gracing PHX soil this week as they journey to and from Austin.
Abe Vigoda: This Los Angeles band's sonically scrambled, free-range alt-rock was groovy enough to catch the attention and tour companionship of DJ, producer, and tastemaker Diplo. For Rampage Fest 2009 at The Trunk Space date, they'll pull songs out of their grab bag of chaotic noise.
The Bronx: Matt Caughthran wields his baseball bat vocals with a swordsman's style and leads the way for the five-piece's hard-charging, punk-infused rock. Their latest rounds, though, have them performing English-language mariachi sets, so all bets are off at Tempe's Yucca Tap Room on Tuesday, March 24.
Futurecop!: Producers Manzur Iqbal and Peter Carrol from Manchester and London, respectively, sought to create music forged from their love of '80s fantasy and teen farce films. The SxStateside Showcase at the Rhythm Room will be awash in their resplendent, unabashed synth pop on Tuesday, March 24.
Parenthetical Girls: Frontman Zac Pennington's lilting warbles pepper the dense, layered chamber pop he enlists fellow Portland musicians to create and brings his symphonic earnestness to a Stinkweeds Records in-store on Monday, March 23.
Phosphorescent: Monday, March 15, will see singer-songwriter Matthew Houck bring his Athens, Georgia-bred and Brooklyn, New York-honed indie alt-country to Modified Arts. The earthy twang of his superbly crafted songs resonates even further with his gospel-tinged vocals providing extra lift.
Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains: Don't let the name of the project fool you: Grainger struck out on his own after the collapse of Toronto's Death from Above 1979. The drummer and singer ante-upped to play nearly all the instruments on the eponymous album and will stake his claim in the dance-rock field with a performance at Chyro Arts on Wednesday, March 25.
Vermillion Lies: The San Francisco sister act has become a favorite and frequent tour companion of Dresden Dolls banshee Amanda Palmer. On Friday, March 13, the saucy gals bring their vaudevillian sexiness and endearingly fun "scream-along" cabaret songs to The Trunk Space.
Zion I: This Bay Area duo take the classic "he's the DJ, I'm the rapper" approach with AmpLive on production and DJ duties and Zumbi spitting his deep-water slang. The skillful mic flexing over retro-futuristic thumping beats will keep heads nodding at Club Red on Thursday, March 12.