Bleeding Knees Club performs at the Pure Volume House during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2012 | DAY FIVE

Bleeding Knees Club performs at the Pure Volume House during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
Bleeding Knees Club performs at the Pure Volume House during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Yellow Ostrich performs at the Baeblemusic day party at Peckerhead’s KnuckleRumbler Lounge during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
Yellow Ostrich performs at the Baeblemusic day party at Peckerhead’s KnuckleRumbler Lounge during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Psychedelic Horseshit performs at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
Psychedelic Horseshit performs at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Ceremony performs at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
Ceremony performs at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Widowspeak performs at the Captured Tracks showcase at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
Widowspeak performs at the Captured Tracks showcase at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Craft Spells performs at the Captured Tracks showcase at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
Craft Spells performs at the Captured Tracks showcase at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
The Men performs at Beerland during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012.
The Men performs at Beerland during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

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THEESatisfaction performs at the Sub Pop showcast at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2012 | DAY FOUR

Now Now performs at Firehouse Hostel & Lounge during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012.
Now Now performs at Firehouse Hostel & Lounge during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

NOW, NOW @ Firehouse Hostel & Lounge

Even before I managed to catch Now, Now at SXSW, the band’s fantastic record Threads was already on constant rotation. The Minneapolis trio — comprised of Cacie Dalager, Jess Abbott, and Bradley Hale — found the right recipe for songs that straddle fizzy power pop hooks and lush, yet disarming layers of sound — all while singing about some big universal themes sparked from quiet but deeply personal moments. In “Thread” and “But I Do” Dalager’s lyrics capture a sense of unreturned love and the fragility of relationships unraveling not all at once but one stitch at a time. Elsewhere, in songs like “School Friends” and “Separate Rooms” she sings of insomnia, and the confusing, often phantom limb feelings that still linger when seeing a former love and not knowing where things stand. Ultimately, it’s Now, Now’s live show — even in a half-full converted bar — that made this band’s taut, infectious melodies come to life. This band is one of the most confident and exciting new acts of the year.

Conveyor performs at Uncorked during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012.
Conveyor performs at Uncorked during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Kishi Bashi performs at Uncorked during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012.
Kishi Bashi performs at Uncorked during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Gashcat performs at the Sub Pop showcast at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012.
Gashcat performs at the Sub Pop showcast at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
THEESatisfaction performs at the Sub Pop showcast at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012.
THEESatisfaction performs at the Sub Pop showcast at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

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Patrick Watson performs at St. David's Episcopal Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2012 | DAY THREE

La Vida Boheme performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012.
La Vida Boheme performs at the NPR Music day party at The Parish during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Gardens & Villa performs at the Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian/Dead Oceans showcase at Mohawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012.
Gardens & Villa performs at the Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian/Dead Oceans showcase at Mohawk Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Patrick Watson performs at  St. David's Episcopal Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012.
Patrick Watson performs at St. David’s Episcopal Church during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 15, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

PATRICK WATSON @ St. David’s Episcopal Church

Patrick Watson’s deeply emotional and joyful midnight performance at St. David’s Episcopal Church has stuck with me more than any at this year’s South By Southwest. This beautiful sanctuary, lit from above by strings of Edison light bulbs, was the perfect setting for Watson’s imaginative and timeless chamber pop from this year’s masterful Adventures In Your Own Backyard. But near the end of the set, the singer and his band gathered in the aisle between church pews to do single mic renditions of “Into Giants” and “Words In The Fire,” — a stirring song about finding happiness living in the present. Sitting next to so many close friends, it was hard not to get caught up in that moment and realize how lucky we were to witness this special show. I still get choked up every time I put on “Words In The Fire.”

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Mr. Gnome performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2012 | DAY TWO

Mr. Gnome performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
Mr. Gnome performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at Red 7 during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
White Arrows performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at the Red 7 Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
White Arrows performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at the Red 7 Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Typhoon performs at the Paste Day Party at The Stage On Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
Typhoon performs at the Paste Day Party at The Stage On Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Forest Fire performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at the Red 7 Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
Forest Fire performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at the Red 7 Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
La Sera performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at the Red 7 Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
La Sera performs at the ForceField/Terrorbird day party at the Red 7 Patio during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Apparat performs at the Paste Day Party at The Stage On Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
Apparat performs at the Paste Day Party at The Stage On Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)
Hospitality performs at the Paste Day Party at The Stage On Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012.
Hospitality performs at the Paste Day Party at The Stage On Sixth during South By Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2012. (© Michael Katzif – Do not use or republish without prior consent.)

HOSPITALITY @ The Stage On Sixth

Many songwriters have mulled over the rootlessness of their youth, but few describe it with as much whip-smart and wistful sentiment as Hospitality’s Amber Papini does. Hospitality’s very fine debut is full of well-crafted songs such as “Eighth Avenue” and “Liberal Arts” that serve as intimate snapshots of living in New York City and the complicated feelings that come with transition. But “Argonauts” is the standout, for its lovely depiction of the Statue of Liberty as a symbol for the promise of reinvention and searching a new direction. This year saw so many songs that charted new ground, were perhaps more innovative, or took on weightier topics. But for me, “Argonauts” hit a certain joyful and sweet tone that I kept returning to again and again in 2012.

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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.