Hidden gems in the Live Music Capital

Remember that chocolate fondue fountain at the buffet line? The past week at South by Southwest was basically a music fondue experience – amazingly good and continually flowing, seemingly endless good music. It was our first time experiencing the festival, and for SXSW rookies, it can be a pretty stressful experience. At any point of time, there will be 8372837421 events going on – we were told that the best strategy is to find a party with a nice atmosphere and stay throughout. Anyway, we survived. Without passes or wristbands, we still got to see a bunch of amazing stuff including a ton of awesome bands and the grumpy cat (yes the folks at Mashable actually brought the animal over to Austin).

It’s difficult to explain experiencing live, original music at its finest. In fact, just stumbling upon good music because we’ve never heard of many of these bands prior to the festival. Here’s what we’ve learnt – it’s seldom about the famous bands who are scheduled to play, but the rising unknowns that emerge to blow your mind with passion-filled music. Serendipity + music = a beautiful experience.

Here are some of my top picks from the past 2 weeks:

1. The Family Crest (CA) – a band formed through Craigslist, this group has an amazing story with more than 100 members participating in their recordings. Their lead singer has POWERFUL lungs.

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2. Eastern Sea (TX) – they played 6 songs during their set and every song sounded different from the one before.

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3. The Mowgli’s (CA) – apparently they are famous but all I know is that they play such fun music you just want to dance and smile

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4. Mighty Oaks – Berlin-based band with members from all over the world. This is one hidden find since it was their first time ever playing in the US after launching their first ever EP in Europe this year. Great music!

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5. Frances Cone (NY) – Lead singer has a raspy voice which combines beautifully with the harmony of the rest of her group. @Sofarsounds

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6. John Mark Nelson (MN) – I can’t describe this with words; try to put this all together – double bass, guitar, snare, accordion and great harmony @Sofarsounds

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Until the next musical extravaganza!

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