The SXSW Music lineup war of attrition: Who's canceled, and who to replace themwith
Lost amid the hype that comes with the initial release of the SXSW band list is a disappointing truism: Like soldiers storming the beach at Normandy, there’s going to be some attrition, and not everyone is going to make it. We were as excited as anybody when Lana Del Rey was announced, but one universally-panned Saturday Night Live performance later, and there’s no way she would take the chance of performing in front of a bunch of bloggers and industry types all jonesing to tweet about how much she sucks.
Other acts have bailed on the festival for other reasons, and if you were all fired up about the chance to see some of the marquee names in the initial announcement, it might be a good idea to check the current schedule and make sure that they’re still on for the festival. In the meantime, here’s a guide to a handful of prominent names who aren’t playing SXSW Music anymore, and who you might want to replace them with.
Lana Del Rey
Why she canceled: The much-derided First Official Indie Hype Casualty of 2012 didn’t even make it to mid-March and SXSW before the forces of snark and jaded resentment threatened to derail her promising career.
When Lana Del Rey was announced as a SXSW performer, it made perfect sense — she’d played a limited number of US dates, and the snippets that people had seen had generated a lot of excitement, so this would have made for a killer coming out party. But after the ill-fated SNL gig that made her the butt of all of the Internet’s jokes for reasons that are still kind of unfair, she canceled her upcoming dates — including SXSW — to focus on getting people’s super short attention spans to move past her so she can mount a comeback in the summer. Good plan, LDR!
If you were among the few who were legitimately jazzed about seeing a young musician who’s both incredibly overhyped and disappointingly underrated, well, we can’t replicate those conditions with anyone else.
Who you should see instead: If you were among the few who were legitimately jazzed about seeing a young musician who’s both incredibly overhyped and disappointingly underrated, well, we can’t replicate those conditions with anyone else. We can recommend that you go see another 60’s-influenced, jazz-and-sad-songs young woman with less baggage attached: Namely, Norah Jones.
That may sound like a serious diversion, but it’s not, really — Jones has gone a long way from her Come Away With Me roots, and her latest album, 2009’s The Fall, was a gem, featuring songwriting collaborations with Ryan Adams and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, remixes from Beck, the Beastie Boys and Santigold, and other stuff that makes her cooler than you’d expect.
Why they canceled: The Fray’s publicist didn’t get back to us in time to give us an official answer, but the fact that they’re booked for a gig at Stubb’s in late April now might have something to do with it. “How To Save A Life” was a while ago, but bands who were double-platinum in 2005 and certified gold in 2009 don’t usually need to play SXSW showcases, unless they’re at Auditorium Shores — and that bill is fully packed. It probably made more sense to them to do a fully-paid gig at Stubb’s this time out.
Who you should see instead: We could snark on The Fray and the sort of people who like them, but what the hell? Three million or so records didn’t get bought by nobody, so some of you probably like this band. You probably also like Train, too, who’ll be bringing “Hey Soul Sister” to the Central Presbyterian Church on Saturday night for an intimate evening your golf buddies will be psyched to hear about.
At least you can maybe catch a glimpse of the dudes who sang “Semi-Charmed Life” at Jo’s Coffee before the show (if the rain ever relents).
Third Eye Blind
Why they canceled: So, Third Eye Blind didn’t exactly cancel its SXSW showcase — they just moved it to Interactive, where they’ll be playing tomorrow night at ACL Live for badgeholders. That’s still kind of a bummer for lovers of late-90’s alternarock who only have Music wristbands, but at least you can maybe catch a glimpse of the dudes who sang “Semi-Charmed Life” at Jo’s Coffee before the show (if the rain ever relents).
Who you should see instead: They’re also a late-90’s alternarock band who had a ubiquitous “buzz bin” hit back in the day, but Nada Surf overcame “Popular” in a way that Third Eye Blind never quite got past “How’s It Going To Be” and “Never Let You Go.” After resurrecting its career by fleeing in the early-00’s to indie stalwart label Barsuk Records, Nada Surf has put out quality album after quality album, and they still drop “Popular” into their setlists from time to time.
Talk about giving the people what they want!