Rockhands: The SXSW Edition (Starring Yuck, Black Angels, Steve Wynn, Esben & The Witch + more!)

The BackstageRider has little rock worker bees EVERYWHERE. Particularly in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest 2011.

In this case, kudos go to my favourite US roving rockhands reporter Shelly Corbett. Shelly works with the ab-fab gang at Seattle radio station KEXP, who’ve this year nabbed some pretty shit-hot bands for their live SXSW broadcasts, and is a friend to the BSR. She’s also an expert at getting the most awesome in indie rock to raise their two fingers for her camera. So I’m thrilled to present the SXSW Rockhands Edition, starring BackstageRider favourites Yuck and Black Angels, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3, plus GroupLove, The Head and the Heart, John Vanderslice and the Young Evils.

But that’s not all! Vancouver indie-rock gig-obsessive Giselle Larcombe is down in Austin, too, and in the run-up has been waving her arms around and shouting about a band called Sleepy Vikings that’s she’s into. She insists they’re cool. So naturally, I asked: “Rockhands?” She also managed to corner my fave new gothband Esben & The Witch. During the day. Goths come out in the daytime! Who knew?

Are you down at SXSW? It’s not too late to SEND US YOUR rockhands! IT’S FOR THE GREATER GOOD! Snap a pic on your phone, tweet it to @backstagerider, upload it at or email and we’ll add your pics to this feature, as well as to the main rockhands gallery.

Daniel Blumberg from Yuck at SXSW 2011, photo by Shelly Corbett

Yuck – a four-piece from London (and points beyond) are what those irritating “industry” types call “a buzz band.” And for good bloody reason. Yuck’s debut album, called “Yuck”, ticks off some serious I Love SO MUCH musical boxes. Think fuzzy Sebadoh, Sonic Youth and some harmonic Teenage Fanclub. This is Daniel Blumberg (who’s also got a solo project called Oupa.) Serious hair. Serious indie cred.

Mariko and Max from at SXSW 2011, photo by Shelly Corbett

Here’s Mariko and Max of Yuck. Extra points to Max for living long and prospering. He’s got…SPOCKHANDS! Way to mix SXSWi and SXSW, Max! Oh, and you wanna a ton of tracks off their debut? Okay: Yuck by Yuck.

Black Angels & Cheryl from KEXP at SXSW 2011, Shelly Corbett photo

OH MY GODS I LOVE THE BLACK ANGELS! LOVE LOVE LOVE PSYCHEDELIC SWIRLIE LOVE! They’re practically SXSW’s house band, and here’s the whole lot of ’em with Cheryl from KEXP (at left) giving me (via Shelly) the horns. To understand why I love the Black Angels – plus, to see amazing live shots of ’em by Kris Krug, taken last year – click on this link here.

The Head and the Heart at at SXSW 2011, photo by Shelly Corbett

Seattle-y The Head and the Heart are a bit less rock, a bit more soaring folky feel-goodness. Think Mumford & Sons with more piano, performing at a olde-timey general store. They get full marks for seemingly praying to god while throwing the devil’s horns. Sign up over at their website (link is …uh, in the last sentence) and you’ll get stuffs AND a free download.

GroupLove at SXSW 2011, photo by Shelly Corbett

Rock, boy-girl harmonies, bit of a psychedelica and some typical Hell-A sunshine are GroupLove. That’s Sean and Ryan above. The rapscallions. Hey, are rapscallions like green onions that do hip-hop?

Ritzy Bryan, The Joy Formidable at SXSW 2011, pic by Shelly Corbett

It’s RITZY! It’s a  Joy Formidable! (A band Passion Pit love!) So cute! Wearing J. Mascis’ favourite colour! And holding a Dos Equis! This is INDIE ROCK, my friends!

The Young Evils at SXSW 2011, photo by Shelly Corbett

Please won’t you gimme indie pop? Seattle, WAh’s The Young Evils are a twosome made up of guitar and drum girlguy ditties that are stripped down n’ pretty. Mackenzie’s the cutie on the left, while Troy is tag-teaming.

John Vanderslice at SXSW 2011, pic by Shelly Corbett

Here’s who Shelly calls the “nicest man in rock”, John Vanderslice. He looks nice, doesn’t he?

Steve Wynn and The Miracle Threes, SXSW, pic by Shelly Corbett

Had to nab Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3 before they pedalled off…you remember Dream Syndicate, right? Yeah, Steve (2nd from left) lead them. He sort of mostly rocks. A lot.

Sleepy Vikings at SXSW 2011, pic by Giselle Larcombe

It’s a Viking! A sleepy Viking! It’s a common misperception that Viking helmets had horns. But as they used to drink outta them, and maybe  Tampa, FLA-based Sleepy Vikings understands the importance. That’s Ryan, drummer with the minor-chord, Brit-soundin’ indie rockers, on the left with some nameless friend looking concerned. I dig the Sleepy Vikings even more since I learned that they had to collect donations to get down to Austin.

Esben & the Witch at SXSW 2011, pic by Giselle Larcombe

Goths! From Brighton, UK! During the day! With an ice lolly! This slighly narked-off looking threesome is my faves, Esben & The Witch (Thomas, Daniel and Rachel) whose new album Violet Cries, is beautiful moody darkness. Giselle apparently had to teach them what rockhands were, bless. See a few pics I took of ’em when they were on tour with the Foals

Thanks to all the bands at KEXP who were jolly good humoured enough to throw the goats and to Giselle for drinkin’ beer with Vikings and startling goths during the day. But there’s room for more rockhands, SXSW! Get out your fingers and show us what you’re made of! Join us on this special edition gallery, like, NOW! \m/

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