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.

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  • 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.

  • damien

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Lilly

    Don’t forget Jasper James!

  • Sam

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

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • petted

    Austin represent yo

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Sarah

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

  • Trey Shields

    I love the Ponies!

  • 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

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