Your friendly neighborhood CLRVYNT team saddled up to take SXSW by storm last week. Although plenty of ink has (rightfully) been spilled about the festival's political efficacy, and the less said about the tech-bro takeover the better, our big takeaway remains that there are so many killer bands, we'd be remiss not to gush about them — specifically our 10 most memorable sets.

MOOR MOTHER
Valhalla, March 16
A laptop and a microphone. That’s all Moor Mother needed to perform the most intense and visceral set of SXSW. The hip-hop / spoken word / noise project of Philadelphia-based Camae Ayewa simply hit "play" on her computer, and, for 25 uninterrupted, unrelenting minutes, the small crowd gathered in the dark Valhalla room was given a glimpse into the brutality and pain of being African-American in the present-day United States. The horrors of police violence and slavery, of traumas both past and present, but everlasting, were shown that night as a festering wound that Ayewa refused to hide in any fashion. Blown-out beats, static and vocal samples twisted into ghostly wails bombarded the crowd, amplifying the ferocity of every word from her mouth to an even greater level. Staring into every eye in the crowd, not a soul left that room unaware of her pain and fury. —David Glickman

THE SPOOK SCHOOL
Hole in the Wall, March 17
Doing something truly interesting with pop-punk or indie-pop in 2017 is a fool’s errand; it often feels as if every riff and trope has been rehashed to death within these very recursive genres. Then again, a band like Edinburgh’s the Spook School — residing right at the nexus of the two sounds — can burst onto the stage and, in one compressed 25-minute set, shoot of a litany of riffs and melodies so sweet and catchy, they make you sing along despite literally hearing each song for the first time. And contained within all this sugar are songs about surviving abusive relationships, existing outside of a gender binary and destroying the patriarchal structure that oppresses all. These are real, life-affirming stories that are just now being told, and will not only make that shy 15-year-old feel less alone, but make you wish you had songs this good and well-crafted when you were that age, too. —David Glickman

SNAIL MAIL
French Legation Museum, March 17
Some high schoolers spend their spring break at the beach; others hang around at the mall, or kick it at home. Not so for 17-year-old Lindsey Jordan — the Marylander spent the week with her slacker-rock outfit Snail Mail, delivering several of the festival’s best sets. Despite their lean body of work (a pair of EPs, the most recent being last summer’s Habit), Jordan et al. commanded the stage like they’ve been doing this for years, musically precocious, but wholly unpretentious. Aside from testifying to their well-deserved hype, Snail Mail’s performances served as a reminder that, musically speaking, the kids are, in fact, all right — so much so that they give the vets a run for their money. —Zoe Camp

HO99O9
ClearPort, March 15
Ho99o9 (pronounced "horror") certainly lived up to their name this past week in Austin, running hardcore, hip-hop, metal and noise through a supercollider. The ensuing mosh pits were, in a word, intense — so intense that organizers were forced to shut down the Jersey genre-benders’ March 15 set at ClearPort after just two songs. Fortunately, their Crass-y reign of terror raged on, and they show no signs of stopping anytime soon; their debut album, United States of Horror, is due out May 5. —Zoe Camp

VAGABON
Cheer Up Charlies, March 16
Earlier on in the decade, at the behest of a friend, Laetitia Tamko decided to post a few songs on Bandcamp under her Vagabon moniker. Three years later, she’s one of the biggest names in indie, distinguished by unparalleled, intimate, personal narratives. Tamko’s extended stint at SXSW followed in the wake of her stellar debut, Infinite Worlds; each performance was less a set than a victory lap, with upticks in the punched-up percussion and pointed riffs that found her showing her teeth AND her open heart. —Zoe Camp

DOWNTOWN BOYS
Cheer Up Charlies, March 16
Downtown Boys know how to throw a proper punk rock party. (Why else would we have tapped them for one of our free Union Pool shows earlier in the year?) That the unabashedly political Providence band made numerous appearances at a festival associated with the steady creep of capitalism inevitably raised many an eyebrow, but it was all part of the group’s insidious, subversive masterplan; in between songs, Victoria Ruiz spoke at length about the blood, sweat and tears of the DIY hustle, the true heart of the industry. What better platform for rallying against racism, homophobia, fascism and the status quo writ large than the nation’s biggest music marathon? Now that’s gaming the system. —Zoe Camp

PRIESTS
Cheer Up Charlies, March 16
Priests’ powerful debut album may bear the title Nothing Feels Natural, but the D.C. group’s descent on Austin felt more like destiny, or perhaps second nature — especially in Trump’s America, of which the band’s music is an aural antithesis. Though Katie Alice Greer and company took a wrecking ball to the new administration (and misguided accelerationists) with roiling anthems like “Pink White House” and “Puff,” their sets ultimately represented shows of solidarity, rather than despair. Consider Greer’s attire at one of the performances — a T-shirt adorned with a giant image of Rihanna flipping the bird, a fitting facsimile. —Zoe Camp

SHAME
Barracuda, March 18
We’ve had our eye on Shame for a bit now, but it wasn’t until Austin that we were actually able to catch their live show. At a late-night appearance at Barracuda, we caught one of their last performances at the fest, filled with livewire energy to a mostly full room (surprising, considering that people like Gucci Mane and Garth Brooks were playing a couple of blocks away). Recorded material indicates indie rock leaning heavily on darker elements of post-punk, but live is where the band shines, coming across with a kinetic energy that's closer to Nation of Ulysses and frontman Ian Svenonius’ high jinks. It all makes for a bouncy, fun, fantastic time propelled by well-executed, youthful songwriting. —Fred Pessaro

HALF WAIF
Cheer Up Charlies, March 17
Complex and nuanced sets are a miracle to pull off during SXSW. Better to just plug in a few guitars, bash away and hope the sound person is able to tweak the audio from your 10-minute soundcheck into something slightly better than gray sludge. Yet Half Waif, the art-pop solo project of Pinegrove member Nandi Rose Plunkett, managed to rise above those circumstances, dragging out the subtleties of her Kate Bush electronica in the confined inside room of Cheer Up Charlies. Captivating the audience with each passing song, Plunkett's stories — be it dealing with her parents; divorce or trying to escape emotional fallout from damaged relationships — induced goosebumps that lasted long after her set had finished. —David Glickman

POWER TRIP / PIG DESTROYER / GIRAFFE TONGUE ORCHESTRA
The Sunset Room, March 17-18
If you missed any of their appearances at the CLRVYNT / Loudwire gigs … you fucked up. Power Trip are one of the best young metal bands in the U.S. right now, with an unstoppable live show. Pig Destroyer are a live juggernaut, with a deep catalog and an incredibly energetic live show to match. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra’s appearance was a ripper, and a true rarity that was more than the sum of its parts. —Fred Pessaro