South By Southwest is a beautiful thing. Overwhelming ¬– like that one Saturday night when everyone knows of a good party to go to – but beautiful. As an exposure opportunity for bands, it’s like “Rock of Love” (“… and everyone in the audience is our Bret Michaels,” one musician said) and for everyone else it’s like hanging out at the Sweet Factory on free sample day.

Every second of Austin’s infamous five-day music festival is filled with live music and the main drag’s 80-plus stages pump a perpetual, streaming wall of noise down Sixth Street. There is no lack of things to do, but deciding might be the most difficult part.

For the second year in a row, I braved the Texas capital’s most chaotic week of the year (along with more than 150, 000 other people) and prepared for a Choose Your Own Adventure Coachella-Vegas-Bonnaroo where my only responsibility was to surround myself with music.

What I found when I got there was an L.A. underground scene that had transported itself 1,500 miles away, so I caught up on two years of missed local shows and fell in love with live music all over again. Some of the performances that made me proud to be an Angeleno:

Very Be Careful | LA.Record Official SXSW Showcase @ The Independent

Traditional Vallenato cumbia played with an untraditional lineup of old punk rockers that make sounds like an East Los Saturday afternoon. Aside from being the most unique band of the night (with a set smushed between Henry Clay People and Busdriver), all the accordian and campana-playing made me want to take giant dance steps where my knees come up past my waist and then go to King Taco real bad.

Crystal Antlers | Touch and Go Showcase @ Flamingo Cantina

Long Beach friends and SXSW vets kicked their usual amount of ’60s psych rock ass, this time putting Sexual Chocolate back with the other percussion to make room for the return of former member Errol Davis. Baby blue silly string was sprayed across the stage and front row fans pounded the monitors as the Antlers’ even more impressive two-guitar sound headlined the night.

Tweak Bird | Teepee Records day party @ Club 1808

Tweak Bird is drum and a guitar twosome who thrashes so melodically you’ll thank them for not ruining it with other, pansy instruments. Unless, of course, it’s a traditional Japanese gong or a theremin, because then you can set those up and play them with the head of your guitar whenever you want.(Oh wait, they just did!)

The Soft Pack | Mess With Texas @ Waterloo Park

A Hawaiian shirt-clad frontman wearing Ray-Bans looks more fitting for a Beach Boys cover band than a group formerly called the Muslims, but as the sun started to set over the free extravaganza, the sounds of surf rock (that leans more towards the rock) was the perfect cure for my momentary homesickness.

Audacity | Under the Lamar Blvd. Bridge at 3 a.m.

With amps hooked up to a standard car battery (via a converter), Audacity and friends AM and Dirt Dress played a three-song-each, 30-minute concert under the Lamar Boulevard Bridge. Not to mention that I have a weak spot for North Orange County punk (with a touch of Thee Makeout Party) from kids barely out of high school. If I had a little brother, I hope he’d be in Audacity.