A Tech Pioneer’s Final, Unexpected Act

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Tomé told me that many violinists liken their relationship with their instrument to a marriage. “There’s a deep level of intimacy,” he said. “The violin is made of wood, it vibrates, it responds to the emotions you pour into it. It’s moody, just like humans.” Still, Tomé recalled, Sun was “very analytical, very professional,” in his approach. He made three visits to the showroom, and then returned with Law. They took two violins into a private room. Law played each while Sun tried to tell the difference. As a test, she sometimes played the same violin twice. Sun consistently identified the Vuillaume. He paid just over two hundred thousand dollars for the instrument.

In all likelihood, Sun got a bargain. In 2003, Tarisio sold a Vuillaume owned by the late virtuoso Isaac Stern for a hundred and forty-one thousand dollars—a record for a Vuillaume at the time—and resold it ten years later for a quarter of a million dollars. In a recent private sale, another Vuillaume sold for close to four hundred thousand dollars. “The prices of violins may have levelled off over certain periods,” Schoenbaum told me, “but, so far as anyone can tell, they’ve never gone down.” When Tyan visited Sun and Law soon afterward, Sun showed off the violin and sheepishly told Tyan what he had paid for it. “I was shocked,” Tyan said. “He and Karen were always so frugal. He said, ‘It’s an investment. It diversifies your asset portfolio beyond stocks and bonds.’ ”

Sun and Law spent two years in London and then returned to California, renting the Mountain View apartment, a modest one-bedroom. They thought of themselves as a typical Silicon Valley couple. They hiked, biked, kayaked, and camped; they followed a low-carb ketogenic diet; they tried to minimize their carbon footprint.

In London, Sun had experienced periodic bouts of nausea. Blood tests had showed nothing unusual. The symptoms persisted in California, and a doctor suggested a brain MRI, which she described as pro forma, given Sun’s youth and good health. After the scan, however, the doctor suggested that he see a neurosurgeon right away. The neurosurgeon found a growth in Sun’s brain, which looked like a malignant kind of tumor that might be difficult to remove. The surgeon recommended a biopsy. Sun texted Tyan, and called family members and close friends. Law had been discreet about her thyroid cancer, but she and Sun decided to be as open as possible about his diagnosis, which Law described as “a burden that simply can’t be borne alone.”

Keeping Time How a tech pioneer, faced with a deadly illness, found meaning in music.

Sun broke the news on Facebook. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to tell everyone personally; please excuse the mass-blast,” he wrote. “Yesterday afternoon I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.” A few days later, during a weekly meeting that Zuckerberg holds for the company, Sun joined him onstage and said that he’d be taking a medical leave. He recounted how Zuckerberg had introduced himself when they first met, even though Sun had known who he was. “I look forward to seeing you when you come back,” Zuckerberg said.

Tom Stocky, then a Facebook vice-president, said, “All of us just wanted to believe, Oh, this is a thing that sounds scarier than it really is.” Few of Sun’s colleagues had encountered a problem they didn’t think could be solved through technology. Shortly after Sun received his diagnosis, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged three billion dollars to “cure, prevent or manage” disease—all disease—within a generation.

Sun’s surgery, on September 22, 2016, removed as much of the tumor as possible, and he began courses of chemotherapy and radiation. His mental capacities and physical dexterity were unaffected, but the pathology report from doctors at Stanford was grim: the tumor was an astrocytoma. Low-grade astrocytomas tend to be slow-growing and contained, but a Grade 4 astrocytoma, called a glioblastoma, is a ruthlessly aggressive cancer that has struck, among others, Vice-President Joe Biden’s son Beau and Senator John McCain. Glioblastomas are resistant to treatment, and are almost always deemed incurable, because they inevitably recur, usually in the same place. The doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, who also analyzed the tissue, said that Sun’s life expectancy could be as short as fourteen months. Sun had largely kept his emotions in check, but hearing this he wept.

After the surgery, Sun suffered intense pain, but insisted that he didn’t need any medication. One evening, he found Law crying on the balcony of their apartment in a rare outburst of frustration. “If you won’t help yourself, no one else can,” she said. He started a list, “How to Help Myself,” and on it he wrote, “Keep communicating with Karen, even if they are darker thoughts.” On October 20th, a few days before his thirty-third birthday, Sun wrote in a Facebook post, “It’s been hard to come to grips with having aggressive and incurable Grade 4 brain cancer; it’s been hard not to get angry and sad about it; it’s been frustrating that every pathology test after my surgery came back with the worst possible result; and it’s been hard to accept that modern medicine isn’t able to fix me.” At the same time, he wrote, “Every day I wake up not-dead is a gift.”

Sun and Law had other lists, detailing the things that they hoped to accomplish in life, a habit that Law had acquired while working as a counsellor at a science camp. Sun’s list included a trip to Wimbledon; climbing Mt. Snowdon, in Wales; and a range of musical aspirations—from learning the Bach sonatas and partitas to performing the first violin part in Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-Flat Major. The Vuillaume violin had fulfilled one of these goals.

Inspired by Hilary Hahn, who has spoken often of her devotion to Bach, Sun started working on Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin, the most difficult parts of which George Enescu, a celebrated violinist from Romania, has described as the Himalayas for violinists. Sun practiced every day, even if he could manage only fifteen minutes between medical treatments. As he mastered each piece, he posted his performances on Facebook. He finished on November 12th, then turned to the even more difficult Paganini caprices, a set of twenty-four études, which he had often listened to in a recording by Itzhak Perlman. “It’s something I always wanted to play when I grew up, like wanting to be a great baseball player,” he said.

As he practiced, Sun told me, his new violin “felt like a good friend.” The caprices were so difficult that he resumed lessons with Harms, his college teacher. “I hadn’t seen him since he graduated,” she said. “He was this hot shot at Facebook. He had a beautiful wife. He was dancing. He had the perfect life. And then he told me, ‘I guess you haven’t heard.’ ”

In January, Sun applied for the St. Lawrence String Quartet’s annual chamber-music seminar at Stanford. The renowned ensemble, founded in Canada, has been in residence at the university for nineteen years. The seminar mixes young professionals with accomplished amateurs, and admission is competitive. It was something Sun had long wanted to do, but he had never found the time.

Sun was accepted and, three days later, he disclosed his diagnosis to Lesley Robertson, the violist in the quartet, who was overseeing applications. She assured him that his place was secure. The Mendelssohn octet was high on Sun’s list of musical goals, and he contacted the members of the group he was assigned, encouraging them to choose the piece, which requires eight skilled string players—four violins, two violas, and two cellos. Mendelssohn wrote it in 1825, when he was sixteen; he intended it as a birthday gift for his violin teacher, and the first-violin part requires virtuosic skill. The masterwork has echoes of Mendelssohn’s predecessors Mozart and Schubert. Like both of them, Mendelssohn died young—at thirty-eight, apparently from a brain hemorrhage.

At around the same time that Sun was accepted for the seminar, Law learned that the Sunnyvale Community Players, a local theatre group, was mounting a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” that would run from late September into early October. Law remembered that, in the movie version, “there’s an awesome violin cadenza,” written by John Williams, who reorchestrated much of Jerry Bock’s original Broadway score. This could satisfy two more of Sun’s goals—playing as the concertmaster in an orchestra and playing what amounted to a concerto with an orchestra.

The show’s music director told Law that he’d never been able to find an amateur violinist who could play it, given its high-speed runs and enormous range. (Williams wrote the part for Isaac Stern.) Law asked him to send Sun the music. In May, after ten days of practice, Sun auditioned, and got the part. Sun begged his doctors to keep him alive and healthy enough to perform the solo in October.

Given his resources and contacts, Sun had access to experimental treatments for brain cancer, but he and Law decided that they’d stay in California rather than spend their time travelling to distant medical centers. He did enroll in a clinical trial at Stanford that required threading a plastic tube through his right arm into his heart, which meant he couldn’t use his bow for four weeks. (He took the opportunity to strengthen his left hand and to practice left-handed pizzicato, a plucking technique required for the Paganini caprices.) Otherwise, he had the standard treatment, with the usual side effects of nausea and fatigue.

At an appointment in mid-June, Sun’s doctor told him and Law that a new tumor had formed in Sun’s brain, and that tumors had spread to his spine; they were inoperable. Sun abruptly left the doctor’s office, followed by Law. “This is it, isn’t it?” he whispered to her.

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Sun and Law gathered their close friends at their apartment. Tyan told me that, as soon as he arrived, he could sense that there was bad news. After hearing it, “we realized he wasn’t going to be one of the lucky ones,” Tyan said. The group asked questions about the treatment options, and Sun tried to lighten the mood, noting that things could be worse: during radiation treatments for the tumors on his spine, unlike the ones for those in his brain, he could at least move his head a little.

“He went around talking to all of us, asking, ‘How can I make my passing easier for you?’ ” Tyan recalled. Tyan found himself pondering the lessons of a humanities course he and Sun had taken called Visions of Mortality, which asked, “Is death bad for a person, and if so, why?” He thought about a quote from Epicurus: “When we exist, death is not present, and when death is present, we do not exist,” though he didn’t find it especially comforting.

Dave Brubeck, jazz legend, dead at age 91

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NoPrimaryTagMatch Dave Brubeck, jazz legend, dead at age 91

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Dave Brubeck, whose more cerebral approach as a pianist and composer helped elevate jazz in the 1950s and made him one of the music’s best-known figures, died Wednesday in Norwalk, Conn. He was one day shy of turning 92. The cause of death was heart failure, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Brubeck’s 1960 recording “Time Out’’ became the first million-selling jazz album. Its most celebrated track, “Take Five,’’ was the first jazz single to attain gold-record status. It almost immediately became Mr. Brubeck’s signature tune, one of the most recognizable pieces in jazz.An anthem of dawn-of-the-New-Frontier cool, “Take Five’’ epitomizes what one might call JFK jazz: laidback yet intense, aloof yet engaging. It also epitomizes Mr. Brubeck’s music in its use of an unusual time signature (5/4) and lucid, abstract feel. By Mr. Brubeck’s standards, 5/4 was reasonably mainstream. He also recorded music in 7/4, 9/8, 11/4, and even 13/4.


Although Mr. Brubeck composed a number of jazz standards, including “Blue Rondo a la Turk,’’ “The Duke,’’ and “In Your Own Sweet Way,’’ the composer of “Take Five’’ was the alto player Paul Desmond. Desmond’s unmistakable tone — dry, floating, incisive — was central to the sound of Mr. Brubeck’s quartet, which from its formation in 1951 to its disbanding in 1967, dominated both reader polls and sales charts. Desmond’s lyricism and understatement ideally complemented Mr. Brubeck’s more earthbound pianism.

Mr. Brubeck played a crucial role in the transformation of jazz from a broadly popular, if little respected, genre that was viewed mainly as dance music to one accorded greater intellectual respectability and listened to for its own sake, albeit by a markedly smaller audience. “Dave’s contribution lies in the dignity he’s given jazz,’’ music promoter George Wein said in 1955.


Certainly, no one would ever accuse the Brubeck Quartet of being a dance band. “I wanted to play against the rhythm sections rather than with them, just as a modern choreographer does in ballet,’’ Mr. Brubeck once said. “It was very hard to get a rhythm section to do what I wanted it to do.’’

It was apt that one of Mr. Brubeck’s most successful albums was called “Jazz Goes to College.’’ “Brubeck and his quartet galvanized an entire college generation’s interest in jazz,’’ the critic Doug Ramsey has written. His cool, intellectual approach made the music seem part of the undergraduate climate, giving rise to a new breed of BMOC: Brubeck men on campus. As much as his growing popularity, it was Mr. Brubeck’s ostensibly academic bent that led Time magazine to make him just the second jazz musician to grace its cover, in 1954, after Louis Armstrong, in 1949.


Mr. Brubeck’s fondness for exotic time signatures contributed to his music’s brainy reputation. Also, there was his use of polytonal harmonies and classical devices, such as fugue and counterpoint. Mr. Brubeck liked to say he was “a composer who played the piano’’ and he had spent three years in the late ‘40s studying with the classical composer Darius Milhaud. The foremost influences on his music, Mr. Brubeck often said, were Milhaud, Duke Ellington, and the virtuoso jazz pianist Art Tatum. There was also a visual aspect to Mr. Brubeck’s intellectual image.

His quartet looked like a Phi Beta Kappa chapter meeting on the bandstand. Three-fourths of its members wore horn-rimmed glasses: Desmond, drummer Joe Morello, and Mr. Brubeck. In addition, all three were white (bassist Eugene Wright was black). This led to a widely held view among critics that the group didn’t really swing, further enhancing the quartet’s reputation for intellectuality. Yet for all the accusations about the quartet’s music being rarefied — and Mr. Brubeck’s playing being somewhat stiff — no less an authority on swing than the great blues shouter Jimmy Rushing asked the quartet to back him on what would prove one of Mr. Brubeck’s most engaging recordings, the 1960 album “Brubeck & Rushing.’’


Mr. Brubeck’s reputation for high-art intellectualism contrasted with his Wild West upbringing. He’d been a teenage cowboy, in northern California; and, minus the glasses, he had the look of a native American chief, thanks to his craggy nose and prominent cheekbones. Desmond said he had “the expression of a surly Sioux’’ and the critic Gene Lees entitled an essay on Mr. Brubeck “The Man on the Buffalo Nickel.’’ Mr. Brubeck was frequently classified as belonging to the “West Coast’’ or “cool’’ school of jazz. It’s true he grew up there and began as both performer and recording artist in the San Francisco Bay area. And West Coast musicians were predominantly white.


Yet in musical terms, Mr. Brubeck stood apart from the cool school. His music tended to be harmonically denser than anything found on the recordings of such West Coast stalwarts as Chet Baker or Shorty Rogers. Nor did they share his interest in polyrhythms and classical devices.Indeed, Mr. Brubeck helped point the way to third stream music, the blending of classical and jazz, in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. With his quartet, he performed on a recording of his brother Howard’s “Dialogue for Jazz Combo and Orchestra’’ with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1960. In the early ‘60s, Mr. Brubeck began to compose extended pieces of his own: a ballet, “Points on Jazz,’’ and a musical, “The Real Ambassadors,’’ with book and lyrics by his wife, Iola (both 1962); an oratorio, “The Light in the Wilderness’’ (1968); a Mass, “To Hope! A Celebration’’ (1980); and several cantatas, the most popular of which is “La Fiesta de la Posada’’ (1975). In 2005, he composed ‘The Commandments,’’ a choral work.


David Warren Brubeck was born on Dec. 6, 1920, in Concord, Calif. His father, Howard Brubeck, was a rancher. His mother, Elizabeth (Ivey) Brubeck, was a pianist and piano teacher who had studied with the celebrated English pianist Myra Hess.Encouraged by his mother, Mr. Brubeck began playing piano at 4. He had such an adept ear he didn’t learn to read music until he was an adult. Even when helping his father herd cattle, Mr. Brubeck was being musical. “The first polyrhythms I thought about were when I was riding horseback,’’ Mr. Brubeck recalled in an interview for the 1992 box set “Time Signatures.’’ “The gait was usually a fast walk, maybe a trot, and I would sing against that. . . There was nothing to do but think, and I’d improvise melodies and rhythm.’’


Mr. Brubeck studied music at the College of the Pacific, in Stockton, Calif. After graduating, in 1942, he enlisted in the Army. Mr. Brubeck insisted that military regulations be breached and the service band he led be racially integrated. Using his GI Bill benefits, Mr. Brubeck studied with Milhaud. He had begun to lead his own big band before the war and now formed an octet, largely composed of fellow students. “The damnedest bunch of noise I’ve ever heard,’’ Mr. Brubeck’s father said after a concert.

In his biography of Mr. Brubeck, “It’s About Time,’’ Fred M. Hall quotes him as saying of this period, “I was trying not to listen to much jazz. . . I was trying to develop an individual style. I probably heard Miles Davis’ ‘Birth of the Cool’ once, maybe. . . If any contemporary jazz player impressed me, it was [pianist] George Shearing.’’


Mr. Brubeck had been introduced to Desmond during the war. In the late ‘40s they began playing together. “Paul and I seemed to have some kind of telepathic communication,’’ he told Hall. “We would even make the same mistake together and then correct it, in the same way, together. We seemed able to spin out our contrapuntal lines anticipating each other’s thoughts. If any two musicians were destined to play together, it was Desmond and I.’’

Mr. Brubeck formed his quartet in 1951. Its classic configuration, with Morello and Wright joining Desmond and Mr. Brubeck, lasted from 1957-67. He then began playing in a trio format, with Jack Six on bass and Alan Dawson on drums, often joined by baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan.Billed as “Two Generations of Brubeck,’’ Mr. Brubeck also frequently performed with his sons: Darius, on keyboards; Danny, on drums; and Chris, on bass and trombone.


Two notable appearances by Mr. Brubeck came when he performed in San Francisco for John Paul II music he’d composed for the pope’s visit, in 1987; and, in 1988, when he performed for Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev at the leaders’ Moscow summit. Among many other honors, Mr. Brubeck was a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, in 1994, and was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, in 1996.

He was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2009.

In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. Brubeck leaves two other sons, Michael and Matthew; a daughter, Catherine; grandsons and one granddaughter.

99 Austin Acts at SXSW Music

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A. Sinclair

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas Annex, 8:55pm Frank Smith and Grape St. alum Aaron Sinclair moved under his own truncated moniker in 2016 for Get Out of the City. The shift allowed the decadelong Austin scene veteran to fully embrace brooding indie rock, full of guitar nerd solos and power chord bursts that recall a time when it wasn’t helplessly cliche to like the Black Keys. – Abby Johnston

A Giant Dog

Fri. 16, Auditorium Shores, 7pm Second LP in two years for super indie Merge, Pile drove indie rock straight in a turnbuckle with the theatrical élan of front duo Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cashen. Also the Sonny & Cher behind the equally electrifying Sweet Spirit, not only was the pair’s “Disneyland on LSD” video among the Chronicle’s highest viewed posts last year, A Giant Dog’s Austin Music Award for Best Rock last month got retrieved by Ellis impersonator John Valley and Chronicle columnist Kevin Curtin subbing for bassist Graham Low. – Raoul Hernandez

Abhi the Nomad

Fri. 16, Tap Room at the Market, 7:30pm Before landing locally, this son of an Indian diplomat spent his childhood shuttled between Hong Kong, Beijing, and New Delhi. For now, the MC blending Kanye-like beats with dark musings on the human condition calls Texas home as he promotes his new full-length debut, Marbled. NBT alert! – Abby Johnston


Fri. 16, Iron Bear, 9pm Alex Peterson’s niche can’t be pinned down. He deftly navigates uncomfortable instrumental sprawls and noisy rock; the splintering, 19-minute “Headache” lives up to its name, and “Learning How to Play Again in DADABD” offers 17 quaking minutes of off-kilter instrumental ambience. Sadness3, released last year via Sports Day Records, is six tracks of chugging, lo-fi melodics with pop hooks. – Libby Webster

American Sharks

Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas Patio, 11pm Austin’s stoner punk kings sport all the hair – facial and tonsorial – and fuzz of most bands saddled with that descriptor. The difference is, tempos are more “Paranoid” than the “Sweet Leaf” plod of typical THC-soaked bands. Follow-up to the trio’s 2013 debut is imminent. – Tim Stegall


Sat. 17, Carver Museum, Boyd Vance Theater, 11:45pm Born and raised in Austin, Stacey Smith has been recognized as Best Female Artist at the Austin Hip-Hop Awards on numerous occasions. To wit, R&B-leaning EP Born to Love You landed on short lists for 2017. She launched women-focused nonprofit CAKE in 2015, which was accompanied by a stellar compilation of ATX luminaries. – Kahron Spearman

…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

Wed. 14, Swan Dive Patio, 10:20pm Since forming in 1994 behind Jason Reece and Conrad Keely, TOD proved remarkably consistent in generating concert chaos, crackerjack songwriting, and an explosive fusion of prog ambition and punk’s middle-finger thrust. After living in Phnom Penh, Keely’s return to Austin finds him and Reece working on a follow-up to 2014’s IX. – Tim Stegall

Annabelle Chairlegs

Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas Patio, 8pm Annabelle Chairlegs’ Sixties surf psych twists through fuzz-laden riffs and jangly reverb oscillations. Cutting through the six-string screeches, spaced-out jams, and bass prods, Lindsey Mackin vacillates between a Janis Joplin growl to a floating croon. Sun-soaked and sloshy garage defined 2015 debut Watermelon Summer. – Alejandra Ramirez

Ben Aqua

Fri. 16, Friends, 12mid Longtime Austinites might remember Ben Aqua’s early work as Assacre, combining metal riffs with costumed performance art. These days he leans electronic, taking a pop-culture-smashing approach to dance music that’s frenetic, cheeky, and just plain fun. Look for him alongside a cast of like-minded associates from his #FEELINGS label. – Dan Gentile


Thu. 15, Russian House, 11pm The global palate of Austin’s premier world music ensemble stretches over thousands of miles and dozens of borders. Hindustani classical, Spanish flamenco, and Iranian bandari music all feed Atash’s transformative stew. No wonder they’re playing Carnegie Hall next month alongside St. Stephen’s Global Ensemble. – Greg Beets

Bidi Bidi Banda

Sat. 17, SXSW Outdoor Stage Presented by MGM Resorts, 5pm Selena tribute act? Guitarist Rene Chavez recently told KLRU, Austin’s PBS affiliate, “We weren’t really shooting for a visual facsimile; we were shooting more for an aural likeness.” Tejano’s first international crossover act is lovingly replicated by Stephanie Bergara, who gave a moving empowerment speech while accepting Best Cover Band honors at the Austin Music Awards on Feb. 28. – Tim Stegall

Black Pistol Fire

Thu. 15, Lustre Pearl, 9pm This pair of Toronto transplants fires up punk-blues from the Black Keys/White Stripes axis, with tools handed down from Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, and Nirvana. September’s fifth LP Deadbeat Graffiti bests its predecessors like each successive release, soundtrack still for any number of network and cable sports events. Frontman Kevin McKeown and drummer Eric Owen rock ridiculously hard and raw. – Tim Stegall

Black Pumas

Tue. 13, Parish, 9pm Black Pumas played their first show last month, but the new soul project from Austin producer/guitar god Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Echocentrics, Ocote Soul Sounds) and rapper Eric Burton hits the ground running with a forthcoming debut LP on Colemine Records. The band’s psych-tinged basement soul sounds like the lost soundtrack to a blaxploitation flick. – Thomas Fawcett


Sat. 17, Plush, 11pm Nobody likes to stare at a performer with their head in a computer, so rapper/producer Andrew Thaggard turns his MIDI controller toward the audience so they can see that he’s not just checking his email, but rather programming live versions of the beats that earned him a booking at L.A.’s legendary Low End Theory party. – Dan Gentile

Boss Street Brass Band

Thu. 15, Elephant Room, 11pm Founded in 2011 by trumpeter/teacher Ormide Armstrong, the Boss Street Brass Band evolved from Reagan High School’s famed Soul Raider Marching Band and Soul Train Drumline. Mixing traditional New Orleans stomp and jazzy funk, the BSBB caresses the ears of cerebral music fans on two albums, including 2016’s Put It on You. – Michael Toland


Sat. 17, Plush, 10pm Benjamin Crowley combines skittish drums and a grab bag of synth textures and samples with a polish and cohesion missing from many local beat scene acts. Fans of Daedelus’ pastiche take note, but this isn’t just for the heads. “Continuum” invokes Radiohead’s best electronic moments, complete with reverb-drenched vocals delivered live. – Dan Gentile


Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas, 10:15pm Possibly the purest expression of late-Seventies domestic punk you’ll hear this SXSW. 2012 cassette EP No Choice and 2014 single “Razor Wire” b/w “Stab in the Dark” tell the tale beautifully: vox in the key of “sore throat,” nasty guitar distortion likely generated from pawn shop Peavey tube amps, hyperthyroid tempos, and a baaad attitude. – Tim Stegall


Wed. 14, Mohawk Outdoor, 11:15pm Transforming Black Sabbath into horn-laden Latin funk earned Brownout national attention, but they’ve packed local dance floors for more than a decade. GZA’s backing band boasts an LP of instrumental Public Enemy covers on deck. Hard funk meets lowrider soul. – Thomas Fawcett

Bubble Puppy

Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas Patio, 7pm Labelmates to the 13th Floor Elevators, Austin’s Bubble Puppy scored higher on the charts with 1969 single “Hot Smoke and Sassafras.” Reunited by guitarist/vocalist Rod Prince and drummer David Fore, the quintet’s 2017 LP Certified Badass scorches remakes of BP classics and chestnuts by their sequel band Demian. – Greg Beets

Molly Burch

Fri. 16, Native Hostel, 8:45pm Burch’s rose-hued, retro sound unfolds slowly and gently beneath the power of her booming, honeyed voice. Her warm, intimate, and wistful debut LP Please Be Mine, released via Captured Tracks last year, catapulted the Los Angeles native onto the national stage and seemingly nonstop touring. – Libby Webster

Calliope Musicals

Tue. 13, Central Presbyterian Church, 11pm Psychedelic love child, Calliope Musicals blends kaleidoscope folk shuffles and sprawling stoner jams. While 2016’s Time Owes You Nothing harvests borderline Grouplove with LSD strains and free-form improv, September singles “Wasted Space” and “Looking for the One I Love” boast electronic pop sensibilities. – Alejandra Ramirez

Dylan Cameron

Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas, 7:10pm; Sat. 17, Central Presbyterian Church, 10:25pm Inspired by Nineties techno and house, Dylan Cameron excels at modular synth bangers, but boasts the range to deliver ambient live sets that sound like a head hitting a pillow. Expect tables full of hardware, spiderwebs of cables, and oscillations between harsh noise and hip-shaking grooves. Ear plugs recommended. – Dan Gentile


Thu. 15, Malverde, 1am Following an electrifying ACL Fest slot last fall and on the heels of a new album, ornately costumed electro-pop duo Capyac stages an ostentatious dance party. Who Is Donny Flamingo? dives into bold, blaring bass that rattles windows, pushing the band’s sound into a deeper aesthetic, an explosive sonic painting awash in color. – Libby Webster

Casual Strangers

Fri. 16, Hideout, 1am Offshoot of psych rockers the Boxing Lesson, Casual Strangers incorporates synthesizers, slide guitars, and boundless imagination for wordless noise that sounds like Stereolab covering Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days.” Three LPs’ worth of hallucinatory space rock rife with comic book, B-movie, and Seventies Euro electronica bits welcome four later this year. – Michael Toland

Paul Cauthen

Wed. 14, Palm Door on Sixth, 10:45pm Low-end harmony for shooting-star roots duo Sons of Fathers, Paul Cauthen stepped solo for 2016 LP My Gospel (Lightning Rod). His powerful croon melds into a country rumble that burns soulfully between Elvis and Waylon with a church flair. A much anticipated new EP drops in May. – Doug Freeman

Cha’keeta B

Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 9:30pm Talented Austin rapper Lauren Riggins reaches back to a bygone era with her recent extended play, 2 Incomparable, which features acclaimed ATX singer Alesia Lani on “Fall Back” and Nubia Emmon’s vocals on single “2 Can Play That Game.” Nineties R&B/rap-influenced “TGIF” (feat. Cat Carter) spins nostalgia. – Kahron Spearman

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes

Fri. 16, Saxon Pub, 11pm; Sat. 17, Continental Club, 12mid Chameleonlike singer-songwriter Faye leads this soulful Sixties girl group resurrection alongside fellow local vocal luminaries Akina Adderley and BettySoo. With instrumental assists from Elvis Costello & the Attractions drummer Pete Thomas and Jellyfish keyboardist Roger Manning, the trio’s eponymous 2016 debut crackles with Shangri-Las-meets-Supremes pop pathos. – Greg Beets

Gina Chavez

Wed. 14, Flamingo Cantina, 8pm She’s a native Austinite, but Gina Chavez’s sensibilities are rooted further back in her heritage. Teaching English in El Salvador, the singer began infusing Mexican and South American influences into her balladic pop sensibilities stateside. Cumbia, reggae, and LGBT pride sneaks into her international set lists. – Abby Johnston


Sat. 17, Continental Club, 11pm With LeRoi Brothers, Ballad Shambles, Horsies, Meat Purveyors, and Crack Pipes among their ranks, these local avant-blues blusterers ride a roogalator all their own. 2016’s fourth LP Hex City boosted production and boasted Joe Doerr’s most trenchant Dadaist growlings to date. If “One Big White Nightmare” doesn’t remind you of something, maybe you’re still asleep. – Greg Beets

Cilantro Boombox

Sat. 17, Palm Door on Sixth, 11pm Blending infectious funk shuffles, acid jazz excursions, and Latin disco, Cilantro Boombox conjures Santana jams and Earth, Wind & Fire grooves on 2017’s sophomore offering Shine. – Alejandra Ramirez

Country Cousins

Tue. 13, Karma Lounge, 10:05pm Austin’s answer to UGK, longtime standout duo K-Paul and Pimpin Pen remain trench deep in the Texas rap scene. Debuting in 1999, the rappers finally dropped a debut LP roughly nine years in the making in 2014. That followed a strong 2006 mixtape featuring Houston legends Paul Wall and Trae the Truth. – Kahron Spearman

Crocodile Tears

Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 11:30pm The swagger of Mick Taylor-era Stones, the power of Live at Leeds Who, and the hooks of ‘65 Beatles: Crocodile Tears are the intersection where rock & roll and power-pop meet. As heard on 2017’s “Back Alley Boys” single, they fall wildly on the R&R side of the street. – Tim Stegall

Curved Light

Sat. 17, Central Presbyterian Church, 9:30pm Modular synthesizers allow electronic musicians to patch together a candy store worth of gear, but often the results sound like a wad of chewed gum. Peter Tran breaks the mold with symphonic compositions earning millions of plays on Spotify, paired with live visuals from an art history Ph.D. candidate Deirdre Smith. – Dan Gentile

Jesse Dayton

Fri. 16, Cooper’s BBQ, 1am Beaumont native Jesse Dayton has issued hard honky-tonk that goes down like George Jones chased by a stiff shot of Seventies punk. He’s also manned lead guitar for everyone from Waylon Jennings to X, collaborated with luminaries like John Doe and the Supersuckers, and directed his own horror movie. – Tim Stegall

The Deer

Fri. 16, Victorian Room at the Driskill, 12:40am Earthy indie folk, dense with elements of dream-pop and chamber music, that treads transcendental realms. Grace Rowland Park’s voice levitates and glows like a lightning bug over a psychedelic mushroom patch of electric and acoustic instruments. Nocturnal third album Tempest & Rapture landed in 2016 as a career highlight. – Kevin Curtin

Dominican Jay

Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 9:50pm Though the rapper out of Queens by way of Austin last released a full-length in 2016, the ambitious Reality Rap, don’t think Jay’s resting on his laurels. Representing the League of Extraordinary Gz in numerous avenues, the MC’s new single “Dirty Money” features $.Dot & Sertified. – Kahron Spearman

Dre Prince

Tue. 13, Karma Lounge, 11:05pm Rapper and purveyor of his BLCK KNG Movement, Andre Davis Jr. converts his real-life experiences and Outkast/Tupac/UGK influences into what he deems “melodic modern hip-hop.” 2016’s Golden Child features older yet fresh singles “WBTN2,” “All Around the World,” “Netflix and Chill.” – Kahron Spearman

Roky Erickson

Sat. 17, Auditorium Shores, 9pm If a Mount Rushmore of Austin music were carved into the hills west of town, Roger Kynard Erickson would be there alongside Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Father of garage rock, psychedelia, and horror rock in the 13th Floor Elevators and afterward, the author of rock & roll classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me” remains a local treasure whose live performances are still few and far between. – Tim Stegall

Fragile Rock

Wed. 14, Maggie Mae’s, 8pm Austin’s foremost emo puppet band packs the awesome punch of a lark gone legitimate. Fronted by lead mope Milo S. (Brently Heilbron), the 10-piece troupe upends the Henson legacy with the power of pessimism. Although their bad feels in felt bombed on America’s Got Talent, having Simon Cowell proclaim you’re only fit to be enjoyed by a “deaf toddler” counts as endorsement in our book. – Greg Beets

The Gary

Mon. 12, Sidewinder Outside, 8:45pm Ten years in, this well-chiseled post-punk trio continues to depict marginal human experience with bellowed warmth and dramatic intensity. Dave Norwood’s basslines shudder with barely concealed rage, providing a fulcrum around which guitar and drums color in emotional nuances. 2014’s Farewell Foolish Objects lives up to its titular Bukowski reference on gritty gems “Coming up for Air” and “Fall From High.” – Greg Beets

The Ghost Wolves

Wed. 14, 720 Club, 11pm Stomp rock, hellish blues, and bayou boogie drive the Ghost Wolves as Carley Wolf ravages a wailing six-string and life partner Jonny Wolf stirs up visceral drum fills. Punk jolts and grunge leanings animate debut Man, Woman, Beast (2014) and sophomore platter Texas Platinum (2017). – Alejandra Ramirez

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas Patio, 1:15am The most arresting spectacle in Austin music, the Golden Dawn Arkestra travels the spaceways with a bizarro mix of interstellar jazz, funk, and disco. Sometimes taking the stage with well over 15 members, the sprawling musical caravan features outlandish headwear, intoxicating dancers, smoldering aromatic herbs, and the occasional wizard for a hype man. – Thomas Fawcett

Jon Dee Graham

Sat. 17, Continental Club, 9pm “Graham is the only musician ever to be inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame three times.” Not only that, the 59-year-old former True Believer and forever Skunks guitarist holds down maybe Austin’s best residency – he and James McMurtry Wednesdays at this venue. Nights of raw life bundled in song, they’re softened by Graham’s bear necessities illustrations. 1997 debut Escape From Monster Island now roars and rasps on vinyl for the first time. – Raoul Hernandez


Fri. 16, 720 Club, 1am This hammer-n-tongs trio’s first two albums reeked of sativa and QOTSA, but 2017 full-length Lödarödböl cleaned up the desert rockers’ metallic act in Seattle with onetime Minus the Bear keyboardist Matt Bayles (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Isis). Proggy song lengths and Chance Parker’s from-the-mount vocals match the stunning, Game of Thrones-loving, there be dragons cover art. Tattoo needle, stat. – Raoul Hernandez


Wed. 14, Swan Dive, 9pm; Thu. 15, Cooper’s BBQ, 11:45pm Another garage-blues duo? Try a “two-man soul revue,” instead. Guitarist Andrew Trube and keyboardist Anthony Farrell claim to be “Hall & Oates meets ZZ Top,” but really they’re a micro distillation of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section – with Dan Penn’s songwriting prowess. New single “No Other Woman” teases April’s third LP Cheyenne Valley Drive. – Tim Stegall

Hard Proof

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas Annex, 10:45pm A horn-driven 10-piece, Hard Proof began as a glorified Fela Kuti tribute band, but has morphed into a stellar original ensemble. Grounded in Afrobeat, dabbling in Ethiopian jazz, and grooving globally, last year’s Stinger LP proved a giant leap forward for the hard-hitting live act. – Thomas Fawcett


Tue. 13, Elysium, 8pm; Thu. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 9:10pm Hovvdy’s unassuming nature should be forgettable, yet Charlie Martin and Will Taylor make it exciting. 2017 debut Taster introduced their self-described “pillowcore” in hazy guitar reverb and fragments of thought, while February’s Cranberry keeps the melancholy alive but still manages to leave you feeling happy at times. – Isabaella Castro-Cota

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Wed. 14, Cooper’s BBQ, 10pm Ray Wylie Hubbard won Best Songwriter at last month’s Austin Music Awards, proving the wry, gypsy-blues balladeer only continues to get better. Hubbard counts classics “Snake Farm” and “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother,” but his string of recent albums, including 2017’s Tell the Devil I’m Gettin’ There as Fast as I Can, have overflowed some of his most uncompromising and exceptional work. – Doug Freeman


Wed. 14, Hideout, 1am Described by one radio wag as “not classical, but not not classical,” this acoustic string quartet takes as many cues from bluegrass, jazz, and vintage folk as it does from minimalism and other modern classical forms. Adding banjo, mandolin, and vocals to the usual violins, viola, and cello puts the foursome beyond easy classification, as evidenced by last year’s Furious Creek EP. – Michael Toland

Khali Haat

Tue. 13, Russian House, 8pm Though Hard Proof and the Golden Dawn Arkestra get all the press in Austin, Khali Haat deserves a seat at the neo-Afrobeat table. The undulating octet masters groove as well as its colleagues, and the pop vocals it layers atop the high-life/funk mantra give it extra spice. See the band’s eponymous 2016 debut for corroboration. – Michael Toland

Confucius Jones

Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 8pm Co-host of KUTX hip-hop show The Breaks with Aaron “Fresh” Knight, Confucius Jones began as a Downtown DJ late last decade. As an entrepreneur, he formed the 1987 Music Group, but he also entertains within his other primary interest, co-hosting (with Fresh) the Austin-based podcast Those Damn Comic Book Guys. – Kahron Spearman

Tameca Jones

Sat. 17, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 12mid Tameca Jones didn’t look nervous onstage during the Austin Music Awards last month. Flushed, heaving, adrenaline obviously coursed through the Austin-reared soul diva, who after having pulling down Best Female Vocals, admitted, “I’m nervous.” Next day, KUTX put the Daptone-loving “Good Boy” back in rotation, its Ella/Tina/Aretha echo still waiting on a Jerry Wexler. – Raoul Hernandez

Knife in the Water

Sat. 17, Lamberts, 11pm Fusing the disparate elements of bedroom folk, ethereal pop, and ghostly twang, Knife in the Water pits meticulous songcraft against a backdrop of atmospheric free-flow. The quintet’s acclaimed 1998 debut, Plays One Sound and Others, aged well enough to earn re-release last year, but the newly recorded Reproduction boasts revelations like would-be Velvets third album outtake “Beware a Holy Whore.” – Greg Beets

Kalu & the Electric Joint

Thu. 15, Parish, 12mid Moving to Austin in 2007 after seeing SXSW on TV, Nigerian transplant Kalu (Kalu Kalu) James arrived as a butter-smooth folkie, 2013’s third LP The Offering betraying bits of Jeff Buckley, Afrobeat, and rock. Re-emerging last year as Kalu & the Electric Joint on Time Undone, the WWE-sized gentle giant went full-on Mali psych-rock, Amadou & Mariam all in one. – Raoul Hernandez

Kenny Gee

Wed. 14, Ironwood Hall, 9:45pm As a 19-year-old cash-strapped rapper Kenneth Jackson soundtracks mostly Migos-style trap and some syrupy Houston screw, while also boasting quite a few famous guests, from recent Atlanta sensation Lil Baby to Father. Latest single “Drip Cost” teamed him with Houston rapper Sauce Walka and racked up over 34,000 views on YouTube in six days. – Clara Wang

Alesia Lani

Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 11:55pm The Missouri-born/Austin-reared songstress harks back to old-school R&B with vocals soaring over smooth soul variations. The silky songwriter unified her best influences on 2017’s Resilient, including Nineties Mary J. Blige’s (“Better by You”), with the jumpy “Pay Me No Mind” repping urban ATX 2018. – Rachel Rascoe

Kathryn Legendre

Sat. 17, Cooper’s BBQ, 12mid Kathryn Legendre has fashioned herself as Austin’s answer to Kacey Musgraves, in attitude at least. Leaning heavily on steel guitar and a more pronounced accent, she’s clearly a fastidious student of traditional country. 2016 EP Don’t Give a Damn could’ve come 40 years earlier. – Abby Johnston

Ley Line

Sat. 17, Stephen F’s Bar, 12mid The ladies of Austin acoustic quartet Ley Line filter elements of Brazilian music, African music, and American folk through their seamless four-part harmonies. 2016 debut Field Notes captures its vision; a second album, produced in cooperation with Brazilian artists during a tour there, arrives later this year. – Michael Toland

Lola Tried

Mon. 12, Sidewinder Outside, 9:45pm; Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 9:15pm; Sat. 17, Blackheart, 1am Fronted by firecracker guitarist-vocalist Lauren Burton, Lola Tried serves up a bubbling brew of power-pop, punk, and early-Aughts emo. Live, Burton leads the band in raucous headbanging, while 2017 EP Popsicle Queen offered a polished bristling of clever, cutting, frustrated lyrics. – Libby Webster


Mon. 12, Mohawk Indoor, 9:10pm; Wed. 14, Barracuda, 8:50pm; Thu. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 7:30pm Hannah Read’s quietly complex indie rock compositions reflect her foundations in the tiny town of Silsbee. Intimate Bandcamp releases and hours-away Austin gigs – the time spent in transit and long-distance communication – reflects in latest album Thx. The debut on Brooklyn label Double Double Whammy paints yearning folk art in an idiosyncratically lovely voice. – Rachel Rascoe

Los Coast

Tue. 13, Empire Control Room, 8pm; Wed. 14, Lamberts, 11:30pm; Thu. 15, Parish, 1am One of Austin’s fastest-rising acts, Los Coast features an indie rock aesthetic with psychedelic flourishes and a frontman in Trey Privott who can wail like Wilson Pickett. Guitarist John Courtney composes lush soundscapes for the quintet’s bespectacled, barefoot singer as bassist Megan Hartman and keyboardist Natalie Wright emit a strong Wendy & Lisa vibe. A debut LP is expected this year on New West records. – Thomas Fawcett

Walker Lukens

Tue. 13, Cheer Up Charlies Inside, 1am Genre-bender Walker Lukens came into his own with the help of a consistent backing band and producer extraordinaire Jim Eno, Spoon drummer and local studio owner. On 2017’s Tell It to the Judge, Lukens’ scrappy pop mosaic relies on his former penchant for hip-hop-style sampling and a newfound appreciation for ZZ Top. – Abby Johnston

Magna Carda

Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 1:25am Spearheaded by natural femcee Megz Kelli and beatmaker Dougie Do, Magna Carda blends Golden Era hip-hop, jazz, R&B, Seventies soul, and trap lite. There’s free-reining braggadocio from Coffee Table Talk Vol. One (2017), mellow spoken-word musings on Like It Is (2014), and poison-dart lyricism to Cirqlation (2017). – Alejandra Ramirez


Fri. 16, Radio Day Stage, Austin Convention Center, 4pm; Fri. 16, Empire Control Room, 8pm Native R&B songstress Mélat Kassa arrived Dec. 14, 2017, when Mayor Steve Adler proclaimed it Mélat Day in Austin. After a prolific 2015 and long-player MéVen the following year, the Ethiopian-American chanteuse now emerges with Move Me II: The Present, a slick and sultry late-night snack for urban lovers. Bend the knee. – Raoul Hernandez

Carson McHone

Thu. 15, Cooper’s BBQ, 10:45pm An artful take on traditional country, Carson McHone revamps what’s old and makes it new again. Her thoughtful lyricism is bittersweet, polished, and anticipatory. Following 2015 capture Goodluck Man, the former White Horse resident recently wrapped up an album with Spoon producer Mike McCarthy that awaits the right label. – Rachel Rascoe

Curtis McMurtry

Sat. 17, Stephen F’s Bar, 10pm Curtis McMurtry chips off the block of legendary Texas lineage, novelist granddad Larry and songwriting pop James, but he’s carved his own artistic path. Last year’s sophomore turn, The Hornet’s Nest, loaded a dark intensity with hints of bluegrass, pop, and jazz haunting the edges of his gently ranging tenor and restless songwriting. – Doug Freeman


Wed. 14, Saxon Pub, 11pm “Is Mobley Austin’s Bill Withers?” wondered a Chronicle cover story last ACL Fest. Given that an ESPN director wanted him to cover the soul legend’s “Lovely Day” and military brat Anthony Watkins II says “Lean on Me” should be the National Anthem, all signs point to yass. “I want to evoke peak Motown sounds, and the Seventies black power movement,” said Mobley. – Raoul Hernandez

Money Chicha

Wed. 14, Flamingo Cantina, 1am Ambassadors for a once-derided brand of Sixties Peruvian cumbia, Money Chicha’s 2017 debut Echo en Mexico dishes a wonderfully woozy collection of Andean psychedelia. The quintet, most of whom split time with Brownout and Grupo Fantasma, have teamed up with like-minded bands to celebrate the genre with semi-annual “chicha summits” in Austin and beyond. – Thomas Fawcett

Mother Falcon

Wed. 14, Hideout, 12mid Austin’s tiny orchestra has been on the road since fall, but not in the traditional sense. The collective or local classicists wrote and performed live backing for Petra and the Wolf, an update of the play. Symphonic indie-pop for the Sufjan Stevens crowd. – Abby Johnston


Thu. 15, Iron Bear, 1am Electronic pop duo NÄM connected online while Nora Luders was living in Germany and Sam Simmons in Tennessee. Now unified in Austin, Luders lends deft, powerhouse lyricism to Simmons’ intricate, echoing production. On newest EP Body Lotion, soft guitar swirls under electro-dance beats and cunning scrambles like “Shallow + Deep.” – Rachel Rascoe

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Tue. 13, Gatsby, 11:30pm Willie’s boy has become his own man. Making a name for himself both leading Neil Young’s backing band and through four folk-country albums with his own outfit Promise of the Real, the Austin-reared Petty freak broke out once and for all with last year’s eponymous amalgam of Nelson’s best work. He no longer resides here, but he spends a fair bit of time “Just Outside of Austin.” – Abby Johnston

Octopus Project

Wed. 14, Cheer Up Charlies, 12mid Not only did this electro mollusk make the short list for Album of the Year in this year’s Austin Music Poll via sugar rush sixth LP Memory Mirror, the mostly instrumental Cephalopoda took home the plaque for Best Avant-Garde/Experimental Act. Front icon Yvonne Lambert always places in the Best Miscellaneous Instrument category with her hypno-mysterious theremin, and one day Toto Miranda will get recognized for his kinetic live drums. – Raoul Hernandez

Okkervil River

Wed. 14, Stubb’s, 10:20pm; Thu. 15, Cedar Street Courtyard, 11:45pm; Fri. 16, Scoot Inn, 12mid Sure is strange to see Okkervil River billed as a New York band. As he gears up to for ninth studio album In the Rainbow Rain next month, bandleader Will Sheff returns home for a whirlwind three-performance SXSW, and that’s just official shows. – Abby Johnston


Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 9:10pm Local MC Chris Omenihu works in varied accessible statements, like sampling TLC anthem “No Scrubs” on his contemplative “Dream Killers.” Co-founder of the Human Influence creative agency, he radiates exuberant dance-rap with playful nonchalance. – Rachel Rascoe

Josh T. Pearson

Mon. 12, Sidewinder Inside, 1am; Tue. 13, St. David’s Historic Sanctuary, 9pm; Thu. 15, Valhalla, 1am “I’m off to save the world,” declared Josh T. Pearson on 2011 solo debut Last of the Country Gentlemen, followed immediately by, “I ain’t your savior or your Christ.” Frontman of cult Texans Lift to Experience, Pearson’s balladeer turn mourns in dark twisted spaces behind his quivering croon, mysterious and mystical yet deeply personal and haunting. Second LP The Straight Hits lands in April. – Doug Freeman


Wed. 14, Valhalla, 1am “The Japanese Action Comic Punk Band” have blitzkrieged stages all over the world in their outlandish costumes, all the while holding human bowling tournaments, appearing on ABC’s revival of The Gong Show, and last month issuing on local imprint Chicken Ranch Records catchier-than-herpes single “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” which rocks like the Rezillos on Ritalin. – Tim Stegall


Fri. 16, the Hideout, 8pm If our post-industrial dystopia needs a soundtrack, Ponytrap can help. The duo gets overshadowed by their towering construction of analog-programmed robots and drums, with Hilary and Quentin Thomas-Oliver overlaying dark cello and viola against the waves of thundering percussion, but the result is a uniquely futuristic classical score of dark rhythms and haunting mechanics. A musical engineering marvel best experienced live. – Doug Freeman

Curtis Roush

Tue. 13, Cheer Up Charlies Inside, 9pm; Thu. 15, Parish, 8pm Away from his psychedelic rock cabal the Bright Light Social Hour, Curtis Roush explores ambient expanses with touches of lamenting soul, shoegaze, and soft acoustics. On 2018 solo debut Cosmic Campfire Music, the guitarist employs space harmonies and layered guitars reminiscent of the War on Drugs. – Alejandra Ramirez

The Rubilators

Thu. 15, Saxon Pub, 1am A self-proclaimed “sub-supergroup,” their combined membership has manned stellar local outfits like Ian McLagan’s Bump Band (Jon Notarthomas, moved from bass to guitar), the Derailers/Two Hoots & a Holler/Jesse Dayton (bassist Vic Gerard), and Choctaw Wildfire (drummer Lee Potter). Teamed with guitarist Walter Clevenger, the four generate fundamentalist rock & roll à la NRBQ. – Tim Stegall


Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas, 8pm Sass keeps a pace all their own. Last summer’s breakneck demo clocked out at just over five minutes, and live the hardcore quartet pummels with the same unyielding intensity. Led by prodding guitar lines and Rachael Chaney’s hoarse hollering and stage command, Sass’ confrontational ferocity is all throbbing veins and clenched teeth. – Libby Webster


Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 12:55am The native Southsider with the unmistakable voice released See Ya Soon, a solid, trap-heavy reality record that rightfully made it onto the Chronicle’s Austin Top 100 of 2017 at No. 61. More recently, the rapper featured with Tone Brigante and Rizzo Rizzo on bubbling brag-trap single “Drip.” – Kahron Spearman


Sat. 17, Auditorium Shores, 8pm Gourds co-leader Kevin Russell began playing a monthly side gig in Houston in 2007 under the pseudonym Shinyribs to pay off a family car. Eleven years on, the Gourds have run aground and Shinyribs just pulled off Best Austin Band and Album of the Year at the Austin Music Awards for fourth LP I Got Your Medicine. Swamp-Mex, Tex-Pop, Roots-Wit – the genre’s their own, and that bank note was paid off eons ago. – Tim Stegall

Single Lash

Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas, 7:15pm Shoegaze finds another refuge in local duo Single Lash. 2014’s Soft as Glass found Nicolas Nadeau and Neil Lord in a pool of echo and horror-style melodies with punk and electronic notes keeping it exciting. 2015’s eponymous follow-up is more transparent in the sense that you can actually understand the lyrics, but resides in the same Eighties guitar stand as its predecessor. – Isabella Castro-Cota

Soda Lilies

Fri. 16, Iron Bear, 8pm Pop sensibility and lyrics distorted by skuzz, the four Soda Lilies originally formed in Houston under Alexis Sidoff and Ryan Elmore with a meditative, lo-fi shoegaze sound. The band satisfies genre purists by evoking pure My Bloody Valentine. Their garage-rock bite is fierce as well. – Libby Webster

Summer Salt

Fri. 16, BD Riley’s, 7pm Summer Salt exists in a coral reef filled with tranquil surf rock and Matt Terry’s soothing vocals. Since 2011 bow The Places You Call Home, steady drum slaps and sweet guitar riffs trot the grooves forward in the nimble hands of Eugene Chung, Phil Baier, and now MJ Tirabassi, formerly of Chicago rockers the Walters. – Isabella Castro-Cota

Temple of Angels

Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas, 11:45pm Like the love child of Siouxsie & the Banshees and the Cult, Temple of Angels’ gothic post-punk sounds like it hails from early-Eighties UK rather than from local punk scene vets. Their cassette EP showcases the group’s mastery of British sounds filtered through Texan sensibilities. – Michael Toland

Terminal Mind

Mon. 12, Sidewinder Outside, 7:45pm Spurred by the archival Recordings LP, Steve Marsh has reactivated his seminal Eighties punk band Terminal Mind, moving to guitar and enlisting a who’s who of local anarchy rockers like Crack Pipes drummer Coby Cardosa and ex-Bulemic Lucky Santiago on bass. Recent gigs prove “I Want to Die Young” and “Refugee” have regained their relevance within domestic chaos. – Tim Stegall

Jonathan Terrell

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas, 8pm Jonathan Terrell’s solo songwriting took a backseat to the surprise success of his gritty rock twopiece Not in the Face, but the Austin troubadour returned to his roots with 2016 EP Color Me Lucky. Behind dusty vox and low-country yearning that span growled ballads to swelling rock anthems, Terrell looks to top high expectations with this year’s highly anticipated third LP. – Doug Freeman

Eric Tessmer

Tue. 13, Empire Control Room, 10:15pm; Thu. 15, Sheraton Backyard, 11pm; Sat. 17, Seven Grand, 9pm Eric Tessmer hopped onstage at the Austin Music Awards last month on crutches and in a boot. The first-time Best Guitarist nevertheless spotlighted Texan charisma like someone out of Giant, which also describes the axe capabilities of the onetime SRV mimic. Tessmer wrote on FB: “As I was stepping off stage, I slipped on the stairs and Charlie Sexton caught my hand, which was poetic and humbling on several levels.” – Raoul Hernandez

Torino Black

Sat. 17, Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, 11pm Charismatic frontwoman Sisi Berry and guitarist Saul Arteta anchor Torino Black’s adventurous rock onslaught, the local quintet flaring world influences from their Venezuelan and Spanish backgrounds. Berry’s vocals sway seduction and flare punk against the eclectic rhythms and riffs of 2016 bow Food for a Therapist, a sound tightly wound for live detonation. – Doug Freeman

Adam Torres

Sat. 17, Lamberts, 12mid Once a cornerstone of college town Athens, Ohio, Adam Torres is now a short-listed best Austin folk singer and featured Austin Music Awards performer. His debut Nostra Nova (2006) gleamed pop sensibility, but newest efforts Pearls to Swine (2016) and I Came to Sing the Song (2017) thread through big sky Americana as his haunting, feather-light falsetto soars through lonesome lamentations and rural twang. – Alejandra Ramirez

Trouble Boys

Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas, 8:45pm Considering “Trouble Boys” was both an early Replacements song title and the name of Bob Mehr’s acclaimed 2016 biography of the Minneapolis hell-raisers, local rock & roll polymath Ben Tipton named his threepiece expertly. As evidenced on the recent Trouble Boys 2 EP, featuring such rippers as “Cold Studded Stunner” and “My Own Way,” the Boys channel the Kiss-worshipping side of the ‘Mats. – Tim Stegall


Tue. 13, Cheer Up Charlies Inside, 11pm; Fri. 16, Sidewinder Inside, 10:45pm Ume has largely been on parental hiatus the past couple of years as Lauren and Eric Larson raise their daughter, but SXSW marks a welcome return to the ferocious, guitar-rocked trio. Earthquaking 2014 LP Monuments likewise receives follow-up this summer with a new disc on Modern Outsider, the reprieve building into a raw surge of Larson’s shredding and songwriting. – Doug Freeman

Jackie Venson

Tue. 13, Empire Control Room, 12mid; Wed. 14, Saxon Pub, 10pm Calling Austin native Jackie Venson the city’s next big blues breakout act is admission to being a step behind the game. The 28-year-old singer-slinger opened a series of dates last year for kindred spirit Gary Clark Jr., and new EP Transcends flexes versatile and varied songwriting that blends blues-rock with inflections of funk, pop, and reggae. – Thomas Fawcett

Tank Washington

Fri. 16, Karma Lounge, 12:15am Born-and-raised Austin rapper Tank Washington debuted as a member of hip-hop group Impac. At long last, the reality-rap MC released his debut album, 2016’s Pain, featuring Kydd Jones, Cory Kendrix, Dowrong, Chamothy the Great, and Jonathas. The unpretentious and efficient 10-track banger built upon the strength of his previous 6 Shots EP, with an increased moodiness, real-life aspirations, and heavy trap drums. – Kahron Spearman

Erika Wennerstrom

Wed. 14, Palm Door on Sixth, 9:45pm Stepping out from her longtime blues rock bruisers the Heartless Bastards, front wailer Erika Wennerstrom makes her solo debut with this month’s Sweet Unknown (Partisan). The LP roars with familiar power and the singer’s signature vocal swell, but also feels like a culmination of the songwriter’s reflective searching that’s defined her band’s recent work. – Doug Freeman

Western Youth

Tue. 13, 18th Over Austin, 12mid Since Justin Townes Earle is maverick country rocker Steve Earle’s son, local sixpiece Western Youth are definitely the latter’s spiritual heirs. Astride loose, twangy rockers like “Somewhere, Somehow” and “Falling Down,” the group smolders with a Stonesy swagger under which resides Townes Van Zandt’s bruised-heart genius that fueled the elder Earle’s best work. – Tim Stegall

Whiskey Shivers

Sat. 17, Lucille, 1am Fresh off of an Austin Music Award for Best Country/Bluegrass act and a big-screen debut with Pitch Perfect 3, Austin’s fivepiece thrashgrass outfit is poised for a takeover. The live show remains Whiskey Shivers’ trademark, a freewheeling, raucous romp that’s captured the attention of both locals and Hollywood execs. – Abby Johnston

Emily Wolfe

Thu. 15, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 12:30am A bona fide rock powerhouse, Emily Wolfe’s bluesy hooks ride her thunderous voice and mean licks. Latest single “Holy Roller” and ice breaker “Atta Blues” are studies in rollicking riffs, serving heavy vibes of contemporaries Jack White and Gary Clark Jr. – Libby Webster