Every act I saw at SXSW ranked and reviewed in the form of a haiku

Remember back in the day? Before the annual South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Tex., was all Samsung and Converse and Doritos? It was all about discovering something fresh.

And remember back in the day? Before gimmicky internet memes were all GIFs and quizzes and nine things you should know something you don’t really care about? It was all about haiku.

So during this year’s decidedly mellower SXSW, I utilized my personal surplus of psychic brainspace for contemplative reflection and reviewed every act I saw in 5-7-5.

And then I ranked them from the best to the rest.

1. Kelela
Sent from some future
to tell us love still exists
but feels different

2. Steve Gunn
A cosmic stoic,
his jingle-jangles sound like
everlasting life

3. Sturgill Simpson
Gig inside a church
I can’t decide whether to
dance or kneel or die

4. Warpaint
All sounds move the air
but these sounds move like liquid
currents in deep space


Rapper Young Thug (Josh Sisk/FTWP)

5. Young Thug
This lanky weirdo!
Is he rap’s future or just
rap’s freaky right now?

6. Ryley Walker
Feigning aloofness,
his gentlest songs smuggle
secret violence

7. Diarrhea Planet
WORST NAME OF ALL TIME
But when a band shreds this hard
we must forgive them

8. 100s
Soft hair and hard rhymes
It feels so Los Angeles
(I envy his hair)

9. Obnox
Sex, drugs, rock and roll
should be ordinary things
in twenty fourteen

10. Schoolboy Q
Standing in one place,
nailing words into the air
and our memory

11. Ex Hex
Seen “Over The Edge“?
I wish this D.C. band could
rewrite the soundtrack

12. Allysen Callery
A delicate touch
is a valuable asset
in this noisy world

13. Speedy Ortiz
Obvious/cool thing:
When that band you love improves,
you love them more. Duh

14. Ghetto Ghouls
Singer is hiding
in his puffy parka coat
Looks toasty in there


Country singer Jonny Fritz. (Chris Richards)

15. Jonny Fritz
Songs about dogs, meds
tatts, horniness and other
things that made me laugh

16. The OBN IIIs
Like a pro wrestler,
this buff frontman preens and taunts
but no one gets hurt

17. Coachwhips
A mob surrounds them
Concealed in hair, denim, sweat
The hidden meaning

18. La Luz
Eureka! Someone
who prefers shoop-a-doop to
oh/ooh/ahh/woah/whoo

19. Cody ChesnuTT
He wears a helmet
The stage is his war zone and
his construction site


R&B singer Ty Dolla $ign and rapper YG. (Chris Richards)

20. YG
First Ty Dolla $ign
Then a cameo from Snoop
Co-signed or upstaged?

21. Kelis
Radical “Milkshake”
Her band played it like it was
Fela’s milkshake first

22. Kurt Vile
True story: Backstage,
Vile’s little brother served me
a Jello shot. Lulz

23. Protomartyr
He shouts at us with
his hand tucked in his pocket,
mixing messages


Rock band Beech Creeps. (Chris Richards)

24. Beech Creeps
Y’all look creepy but
I only fear your three-part
Axl falsettos

25. Future Islands
Just don’t let your band
be a reminder that most
frontmen are boring

26. SZA
She cooed as if the
microphone was her hairbrush
but the PA sucked

27. Boogarins
Unimpeachable
neo-tropicalia
postcard from Brazil

28. Angel Olsen
That new album has
quiet electricity
Where is it tonight?

29. Spray Paint
Woman next to me
dancing fast, vibrating like
a Roz Chast cartoon

30. Moses Sumney
Your Cosby sweater
Your Bobby McFerrin vibes
I won’t remember

31. Buscabulla
She sweetly explained
their name means “troublemaker”
but more trouble, please

32. Eagulls
Post punk riffs melted
in acid. It’s kinda cool
Eh, not really, though

33. Arp
I liked that last song
(but only caught it because
my phone was charging)

34. Guantanamo Baywatch
Cool drummer. Also,
John Waters would like this. Arg.
It makes my brain itch

35. The Secret Prostitutes
So everything
sounds like nya-nya-nya-nya-nya-
nya-nya-nya-nya? Fine

36. Cloud Nothings
Still love this kiddo
but his rhythm section drank
too much Muscle Milk

37. London Grammar
Who calls this trip-hop?
My grown man ears hear Tori
Various nineties

38. Deep Cotton
Janelle Monae’s pals
covering “Satisfaction”
like a lost bar band

39. Saint Rich
One must earn the right
to wear sunglasses at night
Not yet, lead singer

40. Joywave
EDM Phoenix?
Is that what they’re going for?
Do I even care?

41. The Felice Brothers
Sincere energy
and I feel nothing at all
Plunged into despair


The hordes of SXSW 2014. (EPA/Larry W. Smith)
Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about Bjork's radical humanity, the spiritual endurance of Willie Nelson and the joys of heavy metal drumming.
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