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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 03/10/2011

Taking sides: Who needs to impress at SXSW?

By Click Track

james blakeWill James Blake's subtle sounds translate to the drunken mess that is SXSW? (Courtesy of the artist)

Next week is SXSW. Other columns on this site have referred to it as a word we aren't allowed to print on our blog. It's mostly an excuse to see how many technical-difficulty-filled 25-minute sets a band can play in a four-day span, but for some acts it's not just lanyards and Lone Stars. For some acts there is a lot on the line. We each pick one that better bring its A-game to Austin, or feel the blog consequences...

Chris Richards: The plush new album from post-dubstep wunderkiddie James Blake sounds great in our earbuds. But how will those songs sound at 3:14 a.m. when we're surrounded by smelly, shirtless bruhs already fourteen-hours drunk on Lone Star Beer? Based on the hype, Blake seems poised to graduate from SXSW with all of our hearts. But to do it, he'll have to translate some very delicate music to rowdy, drunken hordes. Tough assignment.

Allison Stewart: I'd have to say Cults. They've become Internet-huge on the back of one really great song ("Go Outside"), a few other songs, and an overall reputation for being mysterious. They're on a major label now, and are on the verge of crossing over to the mainstream, if they haven't already, and they're at the point where they have to really bring it, to show there's a there there. If their live shows kill, if they demonstrate that they can be substantive and interesting, SXSW could really help them explode in a huge way. Otherwise, they're an East Coast version of Girls.

David Malitz: I'm going to double dip here. First, the Strokes. People are rooting for them. We want them to be awesome again. We weren't exactly convinced by last weekend's performance on "Saturday Night Live." Band members basically said they didn't like upcoming album "Angles" in a recent Pitchfork piece. All eyes will be on them for a high-profile gig in Austin next Thursday, just a week before "Angles" is released.

And then there's everyone's favorite (or maybe second favorite) Internet rap sensation, Lil B. People love him for his 676-song mixtapes, prolific Twitter feed and general Based lifestyle. But most of his fans have never actually seen him perform live. That will change in Austin. Will he be good? Will he be bad? Will he be bizarre? Will it even matter?

By Click Track  | March 10, 2011; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Taking sides  | Tags:  Cults, James Blake, Lil B, SXSW, The Strokes  
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Next: In concert: Nicole Atkins at Rock & Roll Hotel

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