Kelly O

First, the sad news: Last Saturday, the Seattle icon known to most simply as Slats passed away. If you ever went to punk-rock shows in this town or just out to drink at some of our city's finer watering holes, you no doubt knew Slats by his larger-than-life profile and signature wardrobe (leather jacket, black wide-brimmed hat). But Slats was more than just a social fixture; he was a veteran musician, playing with bands including the Silly Killers and Pain Cocktail. However you knew him, a part of Seattle won't look the same without him around. (Line Out will announce details for any public memorial services as they develop.)

But the show goes on for Seattle music, and this week, that means heading to Austin, Texas, for the annual industry clusterfuck known as SXSW. Seattle is looking very well-represented this year, with maybe the best batch of bands heading down in the three years I've been paying attention to such things. The acts representing the town in 2010 include Shabazz Palaces, the Moondoggies, Blue Scholars, Visqueen, Truckasauras, the Dutchess and the Duke, THEESatisfaction, the Cave Singers, the Intelligence, Past Lives, Jake One, Hey Marseilles, the Staxx Brothers, Say Hi, Ian Moore, Grayskul, Rocky Votolato, Book of Black Earth, Trespassers William, Smoosh, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, the Pharmacy, Jen Wood, Macklemore, Dyme Def, Pill Wonder, the Maldives, Grand Hallway, Grynch, Ivan & Alyosha, Vince Mira, King Dude, Daniel Kamas, and Barcelona. If you count Olympia, there's also Angelo Spencer, Gun Outfit, Broken Water, and Kimya Dawson. If you count big Northwest-related famous folks, there's also Ben Gibbard, Broken Bells (aka James Mercer of former Sub Pop signees the Shins), and motherfucking HOLE! I'm probably missing a few, but you try keeping track of everything happening down there this week—it's impossible.

Of those acts, who do I think is going to best showcase our city's diverse and thriving music scene?

Well, as Larry Mizell Jr. notes in this week's My Philosophy, local hiphop is looking extremely good this year. Blue Scholars are SXSW regulars at this point, and I expect their popularity will keep hovering at a respectable level. Jake One DJing with Freeway should be solid, but the big debuts should be from Shabazz Palaces (even though he's only playing an unofficial daytime party) and his sisters in Afro-eccentricity THEESatisfaction. The 206's twangy, rootsy rock scene is in force as well, with THEESatisfaction's $5 Cover costars the Moondoggies and the Maldives, as well as the Dutchess and the Duke and the Cave Singers. Personally, I'm pretty stoked for electro act Truckasauras to finally bring their boozy but deceptively brainy analog act to Austin and its masses of music-biz folks.

Beyond Seattle, what's happening at SXSW? Well, the one obvious trend is the abundance of (abominably named) "chillwave" bands playing—Neon Indian, Real Estate, Best Coast, Pocohaunted, Rainbow Arabia, Memory Tapes, Washed Out, Toro Y Moi. A year ago, none of these acts were at SXSW, if they even existed; this year, they're all over it. I'd be shocked to see more than a couple come back in 2011. recommended