Your first time at Austin's South by Southwest gathering is always a little crazy, a little hectic—and a lot of fun. This year, Google Play hit the festival with the "Live From the Lot" day party featuring such bands as The Shins, Gossip, Best Coast and more performing from the roof of a downtown Austin parking garage. No cars were stolen, no one got hurt, but everyone still had a good time.
Couldn't make it to the show? No problem; we've rounded up some highlights and free tracks for you to sample from our favorite acts. These included Frankie Rose and her band, who added some live kick to the indie jangle and synthpop sheen of Interstellar, emphasizing both its garage roots and pop leanings. Then there was the amazing duo Cults, who performed a typically breezy version of their 2011 summer song "Go Outside" (perfect for an outdoor party), along with other '60's girl group-inspired tunes from their self-titled album.
Gossip singer Beth Ditto is blessed with a rare combination: a massively powerful voice and plenty to say. Like the best of Gossip's songs, "Perfect World" is an aspirational, liberating anthem, powered by Ditto's soulful belting as much as by guitarist Brace Pain and drummer Hannah Blilie's twitchy disco-punk grooves. Outspoken, inspiring, but best of all, good fun on the dance floor.
Austin-based, Cincinnati-born blues rock band Heartless Bastards may have driven the shortest distance to be at SXSW, but there's no slack in Erika Wennerstrom's voice, their classic guitar riffs or this performance. Finally, Cleveland newcomers The Lighthouse and the Whaler played bright, energetic, xylophone-spiked indie rock that completely won over the crowds. Check out tracks and recent albums from these bands and relive the sun and sensational music from this year's SXSW. – Eric Grandy, Google Play
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