Marnie Stern performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2013 | DAY ONE

In previous years at South By Southwest, Tuesday was a somewhat low key affair: The Interactive portion of the festival was winding down, and the Music portion just gearing up, with less music to enjoy. This year, Tuesday felt like SXSW was already in full swing. When I finally made it into downtown Austin, the streets were bustling with music fans, bands and weirdos all shambling from one venue to the next. Sure, compared to what 6th Street will be like on Saturday night, it’s far less stuffed with bodies.

But with some big names already performing, I hit the ground running.

Last night featured many of my new favorites from the past year — Cloud Nothings and DIIV, both playing bone-rattlingly loud sets that made me glad I packed those earplugs. Also: a couple new bands I’m eager to hear more from — Blue Hawaii, Guards and Indians.

But my biggest highlights from last night were actually two vastly different female artists: Marnie Stern and Torres.

Torres performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
Torres performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

TORRES @ Mohawk Indoor

Torres, the Nashville-based 22-year-old Mackenzie Scott writes songs that rip your heart out, but make you feel good about it. In a powerful set at Pitchfork’s opening night showcase, Torres enraptured a crowd with a voice full of raw trembling pain and deep guttural emotion. But this is no wispy folk music, thanks to her band, who helped build songs like “Honey” into these blissful climaxes of guitar noise and pounding drums. It was easily the most beautiful and affecting set I saw all night.

Marnie Stern performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
Marnie Stern performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

MARNIE STERN @ Mohawk Outdoor

The first thing you’d say to describe the music of Marnie Stern is “she can totally shred on the guitar.” And that’s completely true. Armed with thrashy riffs and dexterous finger-tapping skills that mimic the melodies she’s singing, Stern is an impressive guitarist. But she’s also guitarist who understands how to integrate those fiery chops into songwriting that doesn’t just feel like an excuse to jam out. The standout of the set was Stern’s “Year Of The Glad” — the opening track on her superb, and hilariously titled new album, The Chronicles Of Marnia — an energetic blast full of looping voices and noisy textures. In an outdoor venue, it sounded amazing.

Here’s a few other photos from the night:

Sirah performs at the Warner Sound showcast at The Belmont during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
Sirah performs at the Warner Sound showcase at The Belmont during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Indians performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
Indians performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Blue Hawaii performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
Blue Hawaii performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
DIIV performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
DIIV performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Cloud Nothings performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013.
Cloud Nothings performs at the Pitchfork showcase at The Mohawk during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 12, 2013. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Bear In Heaven performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2012 | DAY ONE

Teengirl Fantasy performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Teengirl Fantasy performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Star Slinger performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Star Slinger performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Bear In Heaven performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Bear In Heaven performs at the Pitchfork Interactive Showcase at Mowhawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Silverbus performs at Headhunters during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Silverbus performs at Headhunters during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Caveman performs a Bat Bar during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Caveman performs a Bat Bar during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Caveman performs a Bat Bar during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012.
Caveman performs a Bat Bar during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 13, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

For more photos, visit Flickr.

Julianna Barwick performs at the Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2011 | DAY THREE

tUnE-yArDs performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
tUnE-yArDs performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Khaira Arby performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Khaira Arby performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
The Antlers performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
The Antlers performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
The Submarines performs at the Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
The Submarines performs at the Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
J. Mascis performs at the Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
J. Mascis performs at the Paste showcase at the Stage on Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Julianna Barwick performs at the Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Julianna Barwick performs at the Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Julianna Barwick performs at the Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Julianna Barwick performs at the Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Suuns performs at Nuvola during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Suuns performs at Nuvola during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Suuns performs at Nuvola during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Suuns performs at Nuvola during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Lord Huron performs at Bat Bar during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Lord Huron performs at Bat Bar during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Extra Classic performs at Malaia during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011.
Extra Classic performs at Malaia during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2011. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

For more photos, visit Flickr.