Column: Best of the best from South by Southwest

Yeah, South by Southwest ended last week, but I still have it on the brain. Five straight days of showcases, new music, pizza and interviews tend to give you more information than you can process.

I wanted to mention a few last things that I enjoyed or found amusing during SXSW.
Here they are, the Rock Candy Awards.

Best Show Played in a Hot Parking Lot: FIDLAR brought the garage punk to Waterloo Records’ outdoor stage.

Best Food: Naan Sense, a food truck sporting Indian fare. It was worth the wait.

Best Mosh Pit: The Black Lips. Sure, their show at Cedar Street Courtyard ended in madness, but the mosh pit that started the madness (during the song “Bad Kids,” naturally) was fun and absolutely wild. (Runner up: Any of the ones started by The Thermals drummer Westin Glass when he dove into the audience.)

Best Band I Saw While Waiting for Another Band: Team Spirit. I was there for Wavves and Japandroids, but Team Spirit’s mix of power pop and garage rock really pulled me in.

Best Mustache: This one also goes to Team Spirit. Specifically frontman Ayad Al Adhamy, whose bushy number went hilariously well with his flower-print shirt.

Best Show I Wish I’d Gotten Into: Justin Timberlake. Tickets were hard to score, and I heard it was great. Oh, well.

Best-Dressed Band: Satchel Grande. Clearly, with their short-sleeved shirts, ties and BluBlockers, they’re tough to beat.

Best Free Stuff: JanSport threw out backpacks at Vice magazine’s Viceland. I caught one (peach-colored, but hey, free backpack, right?). Not only was it a new backpack, but it had a T-shirt and sunglasses inside. Score.

Best Spontaneous Ensemble Performance: Jenny Owen Youngs performed at the Revival Tour showcase on the fest’s last night. During her last song, “First Person,” she asked if any of the other musicians on the tour wanted to join her. All of them did, which made the song quite a bit more memorable.

Best Dave Grohl-ism: “I know that might seem like the last song of the night, but we’re not even … close,” Grohl said after performing “Landslide” with Stevie Nicks about an hour into the three-hour-plus concert with the Sound City Players.

Best Rap Show: Honestly, I don’t have one. Any of the ones I cared about trying to get into were packed. I even waited around for Kendrick Lamar to play Vice magazine’s showcase

Best Redone Venue: Viceland, the show by Vice magazine, had a terrible setup on its first night with a stage at the top of a hill. I even complained about it in my blog. When I returned, they had set up an entirely new stage in a different area and it was so much better. Kudos for seeing something that didn’t work and fixing it.

Best Song You Gotta Download, Like Right Now: “I Love It” by Icona Pop. Play it at your next dance party to get people moving or in your car if you just wanna rock out for a few minutes.

Best Thurston Moore Moment: After the band Chelsea Light Moving exited a venue, we spotted bandleader Thurston Moore, formerly of Sonic Youth, walking out. A confused kid on a bike rode by, did a double take and said, “Hey, Thurston Moore,” and then almost crashed his bike. Moore waved.

Best Band That I Met: Frightened Rabbit was really nice, but The Thermals offered me a taco. The Thermals win.

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My column, also cleverly titled Rock Candy, appears every Thursday in the GO magazine of the Omaha World-Herald and on It’s reprinted here on Fridays.



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