This week, Austin is Chicago South

March 16, 2007


South by Southwest Music organizers often note that after Texans, the single biggest group in attendance at the massive festival hails from Chicago.

Austin and the Windy City have always had a sister-city relationship, and SXSW is not only the year's prime opportunity for Chicago bands to be heard by the rest of the country (and the world) but a nonstop party for fans who just head south to enjoy the sun, the sounds and the burritos.

It often seems as if you can't walk half a block down Sixth Street, Austin's main club drag, without bumping into, say, Matt Santos, the Chicago singer who added the powerful choruses to Lupe Fiasco's "American Terrorist" and who's working hard to establish his own career, or garage-rockers the Redwalls, bloodied but unbowed after being dropped by a downsizing Capitol Records, and looking snazzy as ever in their matching white Beatle boots.

Two of Chicago's best rock clubs held well-attended parties here, temporarily turning a small corner of Texas into Metro (whose bash on Wednesday was part of its 25th anniversary celebration) or Schubas (whose 11th annual party on Thursday was one of the highlights of the weekend for many festivalgoers).

And then there are the Chicago bands.

Performing as part of SXSW XXI are Dreamend; 1997; Spitalfield; Maps & Atlases; the 1900s; Mittens on Strings; Brighton, MA; Nick Butcher; Smoking Popes; the Fold; Kidz in the Hall; Office; Pelican; the Ponys; Dolly Varden; Catfish Haven; David Vandervelde; Powerspace; the Hush Sound; Bruce Lamont, and Minsk.

Also: Brenmar; CD Kidtronik; Flosstradamus; Kid Sister; Qualo; the Redwalls; This Is Me Smiling; Bible of the Devil; Dark Fog; Chin Up Chin Up; Sally Timms; Tijuana Hercules; Jon Langford; the M's; Sybris; the Narrator; the Race; Russian Circles; Andrew Bird; Roommate; Walter Meego; the Changes; Tub Ring; Waco Brothers, and the Zincs.