With hundreds or thousands of bands, SXSW is a verifiable clusterfuck. Below are a handful of locals, oldies, and goodies that Epitonic recommends you catch at SXSW 2013, or attempt to at least.

Austin's Boyfrndz take a noisy and intricate approach to pop-rock, and if their excellent 2012 album All Day Pass is any indication, they are another local band that must be seen during SXSW 2013. They're not doing any officials, but stop by the Slip'n Slide and get down to the eclectic sound.

The Flaming Lips
We all know how restless the Flaming Lips are with genres, and this time around they've landed in a darker place. Whether you've liked their past work, their upcoming album The Terror is worth a shot. The first time I heard it made me immediately go back and start falling in love with their discography, which never sat quite right with me, including when I saw them at Bonnaroo 2010 after a 24-hour day. For the uninitiated, the Flaming Lips can be a bit disorienting, but once you gain a picture of who this band is and what they're capable of, chances are you'll at least be intrigued.

Thursday, March 14: The Belmont, 12:15am
Also playing: Guards, Surfer Blood, Atlas Genius, Frightened Rabbit, The Joy Formidable, Alt-J

Friday, March 15: Auditorium Shores Stage (Lady Bird Lake), 8:00pm Also playing: Divine Fits, Jim James

Guardian Alien
After leaving the "transcendental" black metal band Liturgy to fend for themselves with a drum machine, Greg Fox took his blast beats in a more Eastern direction with his band Guardian Alien. With touches of sitar, gongs, and chants, Fox and his band burn through psychedelic rhythmic exercises that are surprising meditative. Perhaps it is the intention that brings the relaxing state about - their 2012 full length was called See the World Given to a One Love Entity after all. Fox also plays in the avant grade band Zs and has a solo project, and there are so many shows with stacked line-ups that I'll just tell you they're all listed on Fox's website.

It seems that Maserati's mission is to explore the spectrum of energetic instrumental rock, and lately they've been pushing in an electronic direction, with lots of cleanly overlapping guitar delay and pulsing drums. While a genre is hard to pin, it does come as a surprised that they'll be opening for the electronic jam band STS9 on a few dates after they leave Austin, even though their style and affiliations generally place them more on the "post-rock" side of the musical universe. I was looking at bringing them in for an Epitonic saki Session before we realized they'd probably blast the windows off the front of the building.

Wednesday, May 13: The Main, 2:15pm
Also playing: Torres, Anamanaguci, Caveman, Savages, Delorean

Wednesday, May 13: Valhalla, 1:00am
Also playing: Oh No Oh My, So Many Dynamos, Psychic Twin, and Parenthetical Girls.

The Orwells
These kids from the Chicago suburbs know how to tear it up live, and we have proof in our most recent Epitonic saki Session. When I caught them at The Observatory in Chicago, their performance sent unrestrained teenage energy through the room (even though there was a number of gray and balding heads in there) and it sounded great.

Wednesday, March 13: Hype Hotel, 9:30pm
Also playing: Twin Peaks, Calvin Love, The Orwells, Phosphorescent, Foxygen, Jim James

Thursday, March 14: The Scoot Inn, 1:00pm
Also playing: Paws, Bleached, King Tuff, Chelsea Light Moving, The Black Angels

Friday, March 15: Long Center for the Performing Arts, 9:25pm
Also playing: Deradoorian, The Young, White Lung, Deer Tick, Omar Souleyman, Black Lips

Saturday, March 16: The Jr., 4:30pm
Also playing: TEEN, Peace (UK), Feathers, MS MR, Doldrums, White Lung, King Tuff

Saturday, March 16: Latitude 30, 1:00am
Also playing: RDGLDGRN, Eagulls, TOY, Peace, Swim Deep

Additional The Orwells shows can be found here.

The Skatalites
Before there was reggae, there was rocksteady. Before rocksteady, there was ska. Borrowing from big band jazz, the traditions of various island cultures in the Caribbean, and fuzzy radio transmissions of America r&b, ska was born in Jamaica and The Skatalites were part of what is now referred to as the First Wave of ska. Famous for "Guns of Navarrone" and their version of the James Bond theme song, The Skatalites were founded in the early 60s, composing their own music and serving as a backing band for other musicians. Saxophonist Lester Sterling is the sole remaining founding member, but he's keeping the sound alive with a full band. Ignore your aversions to geeky 90s Third Wave ska and catch the Skatalites at SXSW, unless you don't have any aversions to Third Wave ska. In which case, you can also catch Less Than Jake, but don't expect to see me there.

Thursday, March 14: Flamingo Cantina, 1:00am
Also playing: Espirit de Corps, Raspyek and The Droppers, Windy City, Ester Rada, Bernie Worrell Orchestra

Saturday, March 16: The Stage On Sixth Patio, 1:00am
Also playing: Hi Rhythm, Ester Rada, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, Terakraft, Jesse Boykinss III

The Specials
England's premier second-wave ska band have returned to America to spread their message of coexistence, and I couldn't be more excited. They didn't manage set aside their differences with songwriter/keyboardist Jerry Dammers, and Neville Staple won't be lending his distinctive toasting, but vocalist Terry Hall and the rest of the core rhythm section will be there, plus a full horn section. While some bands would be harmed by this kind of rotation, The Specials' are sure to compensate for it, and their high energy mix of ska and new wave will help those coming from colder climates switch their mindset to Spring. You can skank a few of your nights away this week.

Wednesday, March 13: Mohawk Outdoor Stage, 10:50pm
Also playing: Japandroids, Iggy And The Stooges, Middle Class Rut, Sky Ferreira, Ghostface Killah

Thursday, March 14: Hype Hotel, 11:00pm
Also playing: Kodaline, TRAILS AND WAYS, Beach Fossils, MS MR, Jake Bugg

Friday, March 15: Stubb's, 12:30am
Also playing: The Mowgli's, Walk Off the Earth, Lissie, Cold War Kids

Along with Ume, Zorch are a local favorite in Austin, and they're apparently competing against Guardian Alien for the most shows played during the week. These synth-loving experimenters just got signed to Sargent House, who have already been loving on Zorch for a while, given they already boast a roster of bands that we here at Epitonic love, but Zorch appear to be the only ones playing SXSW this year. They made a Facebook event that includes all their shows for the week week called ZORCH~~$$~~~MEGAFUNPARTYZONE AT SXSW 2013, and at least one of the shows will have a Slip'n Slide.