This being my first trip to SXSW I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But what I saw far exceeded my expectations. Music was literally everywhere—bands took to the streets in between shows to make a little gas money, bars & venues played host to hundreds of bands over the course of the week, and even clothing stores such as Urban Outfitters had parties out back with free pizza and music.

It was nothing short of paradise for music lovers. Austin’s hip and eclectic streets were lined from corner to corner with industry professionals, promoters, fans, artists, and locals (who were extremely welcoming.) Some were there for work, and some for play, but everyone I met had the same general consensus: SXSW rocks.

Now, the hard part was staying put in one place long enough to catch a full set. The acts I was lucky enough to stumble upon ended up being some of the most talented. And they all had one thing in common: they’re Toronto natives. In my opinion, Canada owned SXSW this year. Having their headquarters at Paradise on Sixth street, our neighbors to the north brought it, and they didn’t go unnoticed.

Here is my official “SXSW 2011 Bands-To-Know Report”

Lindie Ortega-I caught this act at Speakeasy on Congress Street, and wanted to include her even though she is from Ontario.  Lindie started out her set with her signature line “you’ll know me by my little red boots” and captured the crowd instantly.  Her bright red lipstick, flannel shirt, and cowboy boots were a perfect fit to her music—sexy, roots-country, with a flare of southern rock.  Her voice was fierce, but sweet. Backed by The Treasures, the set as a whole was entertaining as hell. You can find Lindie at www.lindieortega.com.

Frankie Whyte and the Dead Idols-Walking into The Thirsty Nickel I heard Frankie Whyte and the Dead Idols and stopped dead in my tracks. This Toronto-based, female-fronted rock band delivered a punch-in-the-face show. Their hit single “Keep Walkin’” gave me chills. The trio performed with raw energy and grit, leaving everyone satisfied. Check them out here: http://www.frankiewhyteandthedeadidols.com/

Keys N’ Krates- I ended up at the Bass Invasion stage on Saturday night—a rave in the middle of downtown Austin. It was a quite a different scene, but good to hear a something other than heavy guitar rifts and indie rock. I ventured over to Paradise again after hearing about this dub group at the show. And I’m glad I did. Keys N Krates seriously excited me. Using a drum set, turntables, and a keyboard—the product is an innovative, eclectic sound. “Remixing the remix” is the group’s tagline, producing a dub-heavy, electronic rhythmic beat. Everyone on the floor was moving, and a party it was. You can listen to a few tracks here, but I suggest catching these guys live: http://www.myspace.com/keysnkrates.

Recovery Child-We met these guys at Speakeasy during Lindi Ortega’s set and promised we’d go to their show the following day at the Thirsty Nickel. Not knowing, these guys ended up being from Toronto as well. Putting on a solid rock show, I was glad I came. Familiarity can be just as refreshing as novelty, and sitting at the bar drinking a beer, I was glad this band wasn’t an “experimental thrash-punk rock” group or something I’d have to figure out. Producing a heavy-hitting, but polished rock sound, Recovery Child is keeping it sweet and simple (and are damn good at it.) You can listen to their hit single “Trigger Me” on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/recoverychild