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by Dan Weiss

March 9, 2014

SXSW 2014: Alt/Indie Preview

by Dan Weiss  |  March 9, 2014

With all due respect to other genres, SXSW is like the Super Bowl for indie kids, many of whom pool their cash to roll into town and squeeze onto friend-of-friend's couches, in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle, aka a talented new band at its "peak," playing to six or seven people. Angel Olsen and Eagulls are among those expected to blow people away. Of the diverse and wildly entertaining lineup this year, some may need the conference more than you'd think, though: Against Me! have one of the most acclaimed albums of the young year, but it follows being dropped by their label and poor sales of their (excellent) previous album. Still, they soldier on with excellent, packed shows, along with punk legends like OFF! and upstarts like Tyvek.

Some of the best acts also have something to prove: The wit-literate Parquet Courts are gearing up to be Pavement-big if people would just get their inside jokes, while (despite their name) Diarrhea Planet master a three-guitar lineup with solos and riffs galore. Then there's St. Vincent, a perennial underdog who's finally reaching Bjork-level hegemony, and Real Estate, who seem content playing their dreamy classic rock from any crevice that emits light. And no one knows what to make of Imagine Dragons, one of the best-selling bands to play this year. Hits like "Radioactive" and "Demons" are everywhere already -- so what's next?

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