MN bands at SXSW

A&E catches up with Minnesota bands showcased at the gigantic Austin music Festival.

Recently-signed group Peter Wolf Crier heads to Austin. PHOTO COURTESY JAGJAGUWAR

Recently-signed group Peter Wolf Crier heads to Austin. PHOTO COURTESY JAGJAGUWAR

ItâÄôs that time of the year when the buzz-worthy and their cohorts meet up in a celebration of the hippest of the hip. Their mecca is a place where the beer flows like wine and the hipsters flock like the swallows of Capistrano. Yes, weâÄôre talking about a little place called, Austin. This yearâÄôs South by Southwest festival is one of the largest of all time, with over 1,700 performers playing anything that passes as a venue . Starting on Mar. 12, the interactive, film and music festival stretched over nine days. Included in the lineups were many Minneapolis favorites and newbies, ready to prove their chops on a national stage. We here at A&E have dug through the depths of this musical extravaganza to find you the best of Minneapolis at SXSW. A&EâÄôs picks for SXSW: Bight Club It’s unclear what prerequisites one must possess to gain membership to a Bight Club âÄî but it looks like it wouldn’t hurt to have some soul. Bight Club’s Minneapolis roots and rhymer/DJ anatomy recall Atmosphere, but their here-then-there soulful wackiness and idiosyncratic charisma more closely resemble Gnarls Barkley and Outkast. MC Jeremy Nutzman’s freak-off-his-leash flow dips and bobs through Tony Rabiola’s funked-out soul beats. You might call it quirky hipster-hop, but Nutzman calls it “a full fledged music [expletive] âÄî and if you can’t print that word, use effing asterisks.” Since the duo won Vita.mn’s coveted Are You Local? Prize, theyâÄôve weathered their sudden onrush of success like seasoned vets. Nonetheless, the electrifying atmosphere of SXSW has instilled the kid-in-a-candy-store effect even on this self-assured twosome. “You’re pretty much just walking down the street with an insane amount of noise and people of every color and stature coming from every direction,” Rabiola said of the festival. But Bight Club hopes SXSW is just the beginning. “The sky is the limit. We aren’t planning on stopping at all. I mean it’s bigger than either of us,âÄù Nutzman said. âÄúIt’s much bigger than Minneapolis âÄî we are not trying to be Atmosphere.” They’ll try and ride the recent momentum into the release of their debut LP “No Joke Better Reco,” due out in June. Trampled by Turtles It takes a particularly sluggish group to get trampled by turtles (they travel at just a hair over one mph), but Duluth bluegrass brigade Trampled by Turtles’ wildfire-paced, string-breaking jams are typically far from largo. These tunes would outrun a stampede of wildebeests. Although they’ve been something of a regional sensation since their 2004 debut “Songs from a Ghost Town,” this is the overalls-and-beards-adorning group’s first trip to SXSW. Singer/songwriter Dave Simonett said the main reasons the Turtles have not trampled down to Austin for the festival are mostly practical ones. “It’s expensive to go there. So in my opinion it’s important to make it worth your while as far as exposure goes. You see a lot of bands go to SXSW and play three or four shows and nobody’s there,” he explained. The all-strings, no-percussion troupe has a new album, “Palomino,” set to be released April 13. Simonett said the new album has a “pretty live feeling to it,” as the band recorded it all together in one room. “For us [the sound] is different because the songs are different, but if you don’t listen too deeply or you’re not a fan of the band, it probably sounds the same.” Perhaps it is the rustic aura of Lake Superior that gives the Duluth scene its unique bluegrass sound. “The underlying current in a lot of Duluth music is a raw, energetic feeling. Whether it’s an electric guitar or a mandolin âÄî that feeling could be transferred either way.” Peter Wolf Crier Following the buzz from their 2009 release âÄúInter-Be,âÄù a swarm of Minneapolis publicity has followed Peter Pisano and Brian Moen, the duo behind Peter Wolf Crier. Playing secret, invite-only shows in quaint houses around the city, PWCâÄôs intimate, bluesy-folk sound has attracted the attention of both critics and record labels. Recently signed by the Bloomington, Ind.-based label Jagjaguwar, the label that hosts artists such as Dinosaur Jr., Bon Iver and the newly formed Minneapolis super-group GAYNGS , PWC is close to gaining national attention. The duo traveled to Austin to network, but primarily to make music, but also to meet musical inspirations. âÄúI spent significant time getting my head straight,âÄù Pisano said, âÄúTalking creative things with guys who I used to listen to in the car for like three years.âÄù With all the lights and buzz, SXSW can be overwhelming for an artist used to the quiet streets of the West Bank and Northeast. âÄúWhen we were getting close, I kinda felt the madness of the whole thing. My expectations of the whole thing, whether itâÄôs healthy or right, was that I was going to get blasted by pretty abrasive noise,âÄù Pisano said. But in the end, Pisano enjoyed himself. âÄúI was amazed that I found comfort in music at the festival. I was very surprised to find music that calmed me, soothed me.âÄù Ruby Isle ItâÄôs amazing how a simple gimmick can propel you into fame. Ruby Isle, the brainchild of Minneapolis mainstay Mark Mallman along with fellow musicians Dan Geller and Aaron Lemay , did just this. Their strategy was to consistently cover the number one song on indie blog ELBO.WS. His glam-pop renditions of indie hits are bubbly and entertaining, with âÄúThe RakeâÄôs SongâÄù by the Decemberists and âÄúMy GirlsâÄù by Animal Collective among the danced-out covers. Ruby IsleâÄôs hook-driven guitar rock along with MallmanâÄôs manic, high-pitched cry is bright, shiny and would feel right at home with the soundtracks of âÄô90s teen movies. Their last studio album, âÄúNight ShotâÄù was a guitar-fueled rock romp with extensive synths and sound effects. Even Tay Zonday (who was at one time a University grad student) of âÄúChocolate RainâÄù fame makes an appearance on the title track. This year marks Ruby IsleâÄôs third appearance at SXSW with, you guessed it, more covers. The group debuted their latest reworking of Guns NâÄô Roses âÄô, âÄúAppetite for Destruction .âÄù The album version will be released later this year. For Mallman, SXSW is an important part of many bandsâÄô careers. âÄúItâÄôs good for your ego to see a lot of people who dress exactly like you, thinking theyâÄôre the [expletive] too. You realize, thereâÄôs nothing special about what I do. What makes one band special over another one is how hard they work, not what color their pants are,âÄù he said.