The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle live at the Ecstatic Music Festival, held at Merkin Concert Hall, New York City, on March 24, 2012. David Andrako/courtesy of Merkin Concert Hall hide caption

itoggle caption David Andrako/courtesy of Merkin Concert Hall

Classics in Concert

The Ecstatic Music Festival: The Mountain Goats And Anonymous 4

Hear a transcendent show by a very unlikely pairing from the aptly named Ecstatic Music Festival.

Channy Leaneagh of the Minneapolis-based band Polica, at NPR's SXSW day party in Austin, Texas. Katy Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

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Front Row

Polica

Newcomers from Minneapolis mix two live drummers with a singer whose voice is heavily manipulated.

Baltimore's Lower Dens, led by singer/guitarist Jana Hunter, perform at NPR Music's SXSW day party at The Parish in Austin, Texas. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Front Row

Lower Dens

Live in Austin, the Baltimore band mixes warm and cool to build intensity out of difficult emotions.

Sugar Tongue Slim brought a live band along with samples by Gotye and Kavinsky to his set at The Parish in Austin, Texas. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Sugar Tongue Slim, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

The versatile, playful rapper mixed samples with a live-band bounce that quickly won over the crowd.

Rafael Perez (left) and Henry D'Arthenay of Venezuelan rock band La Vida Boheme. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

La Vida Boheme, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

The Venezuelan dance-rock band kicked off the party with chant-along songs and stage-shaking energy.

Andrew Bird performs a headlining set at Stubb's during SXSW 2012. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Andrew Bird, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Bird made his lone show at the festival count, holding the stage for one sweet, soaring hour.

The Alabama Shakes' lead singer, Brittany Howard, onstage at NPR Music's SXSW showcase at Stubb's Wednesday night. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Alabama Shakes, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Armed with a bright new batch of songs, lead singer Brittany Howard fed off a crowd 2,000 strong.

Dan Deacon plays NPR Music's SXSW showcase at Stubb's Wednesday night. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Dan Deacon, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Deacon served as ringleader for an orgy of sound and a live act all about barely contained chaos.

Sharon Van Etten plays NPR Music's SXSW showcase at Stubb's Wednesday night. Katie Hayes Luke for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Sharon Van Etten, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

The singer-songwriter practically dared her audience to pipe down as she held long, cooing notes.