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Keeping Austin Queer: 5 Great Gay Bands To See at SXSW

picture-120Though Texas spawned Dubya, the Republican Dennis the Menace (who’s really from Connecticut, anyway), the state capitol is a bi-curious blueberry stain on the mostly blood-red state. Austin’s half-dozen gay bars form a single city block, but it’s no ghetto. Most of the residents feel as comfortable mixing in public as they do swimming naked at nearby Hippy Hollow. But for a city whose unofficial motto is, “Keep Austin weird,” it’s strange that their annual music festival, South By Southwest (SXSW), a week-long event featuring over 1,000 bands, has only one specifically gay event, and an unofficial one at that.

This Sunday, (Mar. 23rd) GayBiGayGay, a free, all ages, backyard party on the last day of the week’s festivities, touts itself as “the biggest queer event of the SXSW experience,” with music ranging from hip-hop and punk to bluegrass. The organizers, Hazey Fairless and Silky Shoemaker, promise “music, celebratory engagement, delights, flirtation, dancing, camp, thrills, fireworks, shirts off, and homosexual utopia!” Below, five queer bands performing in this year’s line-up that you need to keep your eye on.

Dangerous Ponies

The upbeat queer and allied septet from Philadelphia plays deliriously catchy pop-rock (“kindergartner sing-a-longs” they call them) in war paint with a break dancing tambourine player.

Butch Country

Though Joplin-esque front woman Katy Koonce gender-bends into the Vulgar Viking and Captain Scallifag with nothing more than a horned helmet and codpiece, the band ends up sounding like slower, Southern version of Black Sabbath with none of the chicken-decapitating Satanism we’d come to love.

Maple Rabbit

Maple Rabbit’s unrefined, spoken-word vocals may remind listeners of Mary Timony or Kimya Dawson, but their minimalist, all-keyboard arrangements rarely rise to those artists’ emotional pitch.

Polka Dot Dot Dot

This dynamic, a cappella folk trio makes refreshingly new music by mixing Motown and medieval minstrel singing with some banjo, ukulele, and clap games thrown in for a distinctly Americana sound. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Shunda K

One-woman hip-hop crew Shunda K, formerly of Yo Majesty, brings passionate flocabulary backed by myriad DJs and MCs. Her relentless rhymes about realness in romance are as tough and sexy as the woman herself.

Daniel Villarreal is a neurotic, SweetTart-devouring, Internet-addicted Mexican raised on Super Mario Brothers, Fruity Pebbles and Red Fear. He’s currently writing a novel and butt-smuggling beef and cheese burritos into SXSW venues.

On:           Mar 20, 2009
Tagged: , , , , ,
    • Dawster

      Dont forget that gay bars like The Rusty Spur are music venues all week long. as with most Austin events, “gay-specific” events are rare since there is already such a nice mix between the gay and straight world.

      Mar 20, 2009 at 7:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • damien

      I’d like to mention Antony and the Johnsons
      Simply amazing!

      Mar 20, 2009 at 8:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mr. Enemabag Jones

      “Though Texas spawned Dubya”

      Actually, Connecticut spawned Dubya; that’s where he was born and raised. He didn’t become Texan until daddy bought him the Rangers. Now that he’s out of office, Americans should take very opportunity to repair his self-revised history and spread the truth. Much like is being done with Reagan.

      Mar 20, 2009 at 9:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Caleb

      there is no single city block with 6 gay bars in austin. from where did you get that info? och and rain are on 4th, but the rest of the gay bars are located elsewhere.

      Mar 20, 2009 at 10:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lucas

      Texas is NOT a “mostly blood-red state.” Every one of our major urban areas (and we have several) voted Democrat in 2008. And in fact, many political scientists in Texas, if not most, will tell you that our state is on the tipping point. Assuming no radical change in Republican policy positions, we will undoubtedly be a blue state by 2020, thanks to the growing Hispanic population.

      Mar 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lilly

      Don’t forget Jasper James!

      Mar 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam

      Shunda K, formerly of Yo Majesty? no she’s still in Yo Majesty.

      Mar 20, 2009 at 9:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rob W.

      @Lucas: Agreed, as a Texan, I can say that we are just a few demographic points from being California. We just have a shitty legacy.

      Mar 21, 2009 at 2:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michel

      ^WTF? Some interesting comments. So, gays drive my property value up by $$$. GAYS are very welcome in Austin!!!!

      East Austin welcomes you with open arms!!!

      Mar 21, 2009 at 5:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • petted

      Austin represent yo

      Mar 21, 2009 at 5:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rdysetdisco

      Polka Dot Dot Dot is one of the most amazing new folk bands out there today. They are three separate folk singers who found themselves friends and created the band for fun. Since then they’ve toured internationally as well as cross country…if you’re in austin on sunday, DON’T miss them.

      Mar 21, 2009 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason

      Note how there is a double standard in society. A woman can sing “I Kissed A Girl” and gets a number 1 hit. Now, imagine if a man sang “I Kissed A Guy”. Would he have a number 1 hit? Probably not. America’s youth are hypocrites who only support female homosexuality or female bisexuality. It proves that acceptance of same-sex relations in America is phony. It’s a phony acceptance based on titillation.

      Mar 21, 2009 at 8:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rdysetdisco

      i found the GXGG schedule if anyone is interested:

      1-1:20 Agent Ribbons
      1:30-1:50 Dangerous Ponies
      2-2:20 Polka Dotdotdot
      2:30-2:55 Gretchen Phillips
      3:05-3:15 Christeene
      3:25-3:50 Butch County
      4-4:20 Dave End
      4:30-4:50 Storm Shelter
      5-5:25 Purple Rhinestone Eagle
      5:35-6 Maple Rabbit (maybe later for projection reasons)
      6:10-6:35 Excuses for Skipping
      6:45-7:10 Romanteek
      7:20-7:45 Big Freedia (Sissy Bounce)

      compliments of hintofmintlive.com

      Mar 22, 2009 at 11:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MyrnaM

      Dangerous Ponies sound totally boss. How have I not heard of them?

      “The Republican Dennis the Menace” — lol. An apt comparison. If only he’d been so harmless.

      Mar 22, 2009 at 11:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sarah

      The Dangerous Ponies are definitely an experience not to be missed!

      Mar 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Trey Shields

      I love the Ponies!

      Mar 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cranberry Clown

      Maple rabbit is good, the rest of these are not. theres alot better bands to be seen queer or otherwise. you shouldnt listen to bands just because they are a certain sexual orientation. pride is one thing but this is just trying too hard. i by the way am gay. and saw much better acts at SXSW

      Mar 24, 2009 at 9:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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