The South by Southwest experience is no longer about just discovering new favorite bands.
That changed a long time ago at the annual music festival and conference in Austin, Texas, which ended this past weekend. If anything, there seemed to be more multiplatinum acts featured at the 2013 SXSW and its accompanying corporate concerts than ever before -- with Green Day, Justin Timberlake, Prince and Depeche Mode among the top names at this year's five-day party.
We took it all in during our stay in Texas' capital city -- or, at least, as much as was humanly possible. With about 2,000 acts performing during the festival, you're going to miss far more than you catch.
What follows are eight SXSW acts that
Here are our elite eight:
Based in: Coventry, England
Bay Area: 8 p.m. Saturday; Warfield, San Francisco; $35-$47; www.axs.com
Download these: "A Message to You, Rudy," "Too Much Too Young"
The skinny: Seemingly
Based in: Oakland
Bay Area show: 9:30 p.m. April 26; Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco; $10; www.bottomofthehill.com
Listen to these: "Waiting for Your Call," "Someone for You" at http://warmsoda.bandcamp.com (those tunes, which are among the band's best, are not currently available for download)
The skinny: This Oakland four-piece, with power-pop, garage and glam leanings, was one of the best things we saw in Austin. The band played seven shows, each a 30-minute explosion of fuzzy vocals, catchy hooks and inventive guitar. Leader Matthew Melton formerly ran the similarly exhilarating Oakland combo Bare Wires, but that band combusted on contact with Austin at SXSW 2012, breaking up before leaving town. Warm Soda did better, with each appearance drawing bigger and more ecstatic crowds as word got around. They're off on their first big tour now, but they play lots of shows in their home Bay Area and aren't to be missed.
Based in: Oakland
Bay Area show: 7:30 p.m. April 14; Makeout Room, San Francisco; $8; www.makeoutroom.com
Download these: "Ballad of the Pajama Kid," "Southern Sky" at www.johnmurry.com
The skinny: Murry's appearance at SXSW was limited to a 30-minute show in a club away from the downtown madness. But he delivered a few of his emotional, heartfelt songs between expressions of misgiving for even being in Austin for what he thinks is an overcommercialized, anti-artistic exercise. Murry's upcoming album, "The Graceless Age," might make such self-promotion unnecessary. Its raw, powerful lyrics and Springsteen-like cinematic sweep already are generating raves in the United Kingdom, where it's been out for a few months. The show coming up in San Francisco will be a record-release party, where Murry hopes to play the remarkable album in its entirety.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Based in: London
Bay Area show: 8 p.m. April 9; Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco; $59.50; www.ticketmaster.com
Download these: "Wide Lovely Eyes," "Push the Sky Away"
The skinny: It's still way early, but can we just name Nick Cave's latest as the best album of the year and be done with it? Cave and his Bad Seeds' 15th studio album, "Push the Sky Away," is a work of uncommon beauty, intoxicating twists and superb songwriting -- and it's doubtful anything will top it, artistically, in 2013. It's Cave's finest offering since 1996's "Murder Ballads." As an added bonus, these new songs sound just as mesmerizing on the stage. Cave and his marvelous band delivered four "Push" tracks during their 10-song showcase at SXSW, and all were equal to the longtime fan favorites performed. That Cave, now 55, is still putting out songs that can go toe-to-toe with the likes of "The Mercy Seat" is quite amazing.
Based in: London
Bay Area show: 9 p.m. April 23; the Independent, San Francisco; $15; www.theindependentsf.com
Download these: "Best of Friends," "All the Garden Birds."
The skinny: In the tradition of the Libertines and, more recently, Yuck and The Vaccines, Palma Violets arrived on our shores with tons of buzz, infectious songs and a desire to conquer the U.S. The single "Best of Friends," from "180," the group's debut album, is an anthemic, singalong monster that already has won song of the year honors from the magazine NME in Britain. Austin audiences, packing clubs to see if the buzz was deserved, joined in on the choruses with co-leaders Chilli Jesson and Sam Fryer and swayed along to the latest incarnation of revived psychedelia. The hype might be a bit on the strong side, but the SXSW shows were pretty darn sensational.
Based in: Vancouver, British Columbia
Local shows: 9 p.m. April 16-17; the New Parish, Oakland; $22-$25; www.thenewparish.com
Download these: "Younger Us," "The House That Heaven Built"
The skinny: It's easy to compare Japandroids to such alt-rock duos as The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Yet this Canadian twosome has a different, though equally enticing, sound than either of those touchstone acts. Japandroids is more of a garage-rock outfit, one that seemingly favors noisy pop over bluesy rock. The group also puts on an extremely energetic live show, which had a crowd at SXSW cheering and chanting like European soccer fans. Brian King rips at his guitar like Dave Grohl, while David Prowse pounds his drums like, well, Dave Grohl.
Based in: Los Angeles
Bay Area show: May 10, BottleRock Festival, Napa; $139 for a day pass, www.bottlerocknapavalley.com
Download these: "Tell Me (What's on Your Mind)," "Sacred Sands" at http://allah-las.bandcamp.com
The skinny: The members of this L.A. band met while working at Amoeba Records on the Sunset Strip, where they must have spent a lot of time in the '60s surf-garage rock aisle. They've got the genre down, from the jangly 12-string guitar to the sultry pace. The songs never pick up past midtempo, but the hooks are sharp, and lead singer Miles Michaud has the appropriate lazy growl. The band's name always prompts questions, but guitarist Pedrum Siadatian (born in Utah of Iranian descent and the only nonsurfer in the band) said it doesn't have any deep meaning, but the band hopes it would de-stigmatize the name Allah.
Based in: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Local show: 8 p.m. Tuesday; the Independent; $13-$15, www.theindependentsf.com
Download these: "Vampirer," "Thankful"
The skinny: Brooklyn bands are about as prevalent as barbecue and beer at this festival. Yet Caveman is certainly one of the more interesting new groups to hail from that hotbed of indie music. Caveman definitely impressed at SXSW with its dreamy, powerful brand of psychedelic synth-pop. Look for the band's self-titled sophomore album, to hit stores April 2.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic.