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So Much for ‘Indie': 5 Big Bands That Have Played SXSW

Julian Casablancas Jack White Dave Grohl

South By Southwest is supposed to be about the little guys. The festival, held each March in Austin, was originally meant to showcase unsigned, up-and-coming and on-the-verge artists, with the occasional A-list act sprinkled in for good measure. But as SXSW has grown in stature, more heavy hitters have opted to get in on the action. Check out our list of 5 Big Bands That Have Played SXSW to see what we mean.


Foo Fighters

SXSW 2011



The March 2011 screening of the Foo Fighters documentary ‘Back and Forth’ was followed by a surprise live performance by the band itself, with a set list that included Foo fan favorites from the back catalog and the entirety of the then-upcoming album ‘Wasting Light.’ This year, Dave Grohl returns with a screening of his ‘Sound City’ documentary and a performance of its associated all-star band, Sound City Players.



The Flaming Lips

SXSW 2006



The Flaming Lips recently announced plans to appear at SXSW 2013, but it won’t be the first time they’ve played the annual Austin gathering. Back in 2006, Wayne Coyne and the boys hit the stage of SXSW and turned in rousing set that included a cover of the classic Queen cut ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ which got every single soul in the crowd to sing along.



Jane’s Addiction

SXSW 2009



Held inside an abandoned Safeway supermarket in a sketchy neighborhood on the outskirts of Austin, Los Angeles alt-rock godfathers Jane’s Addiction performance at SXSW 2009 was filled entirely with the band’s up-tempo, hard-hitting classics — songs like ‘Three Days’ and ‘Stop!’ The gig featured the “classic” Jane’s lineup — Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and long-estranged bassist Eric Avery — which had just recently began playing together after a 17-year break.



Jack White

SXSW 2012



Jack White is a man full of surprises, and at SXSW 2012, he pulled off a big one when he held an impromptu outdoor concert featuring several of his Third Man Records artists. White himself was the main event, of course, turning in two sets — one with his all-female band the Peacocks, another with the male counterpart, the Buzzards — that featured songs dusted off from his White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather days, plus material from his ‘Blunderbuss’ solo set.



The Strokes

SXSW 2011



“BBQ before the show was a bad choice,” frontman Julian Casablancas joked before the Strokes‘ free show at SXSW 2011, which served as a coming-out party of sorts for the New York outfit’s ‘Angles’ album. He’s probably not the first rocker to make that mistake in Austin, where BBQ is everywhere, but the Strokes didn’t seems worse for the wear. The group ran through a 19-song set of new cuts and old faves in front of an outdoor crowd of 10,000 adoring fans. At SXSW, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.


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