The 31st annual SXSW (South by Southwest) was one for the books. Since its peak in 2014, the festival has scaled back and it looks good on them. Some big names came this year too, but we won’t mention any (though you may find a photo or two). Our focus is on the new, upcoming artists that made this SXSW fantastic! Over 1700 artists descended on Austin March 10-19 in hopes of becoming the new buzz act of the festival.
Fans seeking to discover new music were met with manageable lines and unique experiences. Those seeking to see a huge touring artist in more intimate venues were meet with long lines or venues at capacity as expected. This is fine when a venue has one stage but does not work as well when a superstar is performing outside and there is no way to get into support the indie artist performing to an empty room inside the same venue.
SXSW official showcases are where it is really at. The venues are relatively close together, so it’s easy to hit several in the same night. The showcases might be in venues that normally would not be one of the top live music venues for Austin, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. You can walk into most showcases with a badge or Music Wristband; if you don’t have official credentials, you can normally join in for under $10. If parking yourself in one place is more your style, that works too. Official showcases are curated so that you can have a great time at a single venue all night with similiar music. Our favorite was the official nerdcore showcase.
The shift to a scaled back SXSW this year was most noticeable with some of the biggest parties shrinking their footprint. Spotify’s party went from a huge parking lot and large format stage in 2016, to an invite only house. The Fader also reduced their footprint to a much more intimate event going from a few thousand capacity down to an invite only event that capped at around 400 people. Illroots had stated that the Illmore would not return in 2017. It was no surprise when it didn’t appear. Lastly, Hype Machine’s Hype Hotel didn’t even show-up in any capacity.
There were still plenty of day parties to attend. A few that we checked out were Flood Magazine’s Flood Fest, The Best Lil’ Big Fest, Culture Collide parties on Rainey, Quantum Collective’s SW Invasion, Do 512 and Covert Curiosity’s Strange Brew, KGSR Live Morning Broadcasts at the W, Independence Brewing and Lagunitas Brewing Joint Session/Bugout parties, and the Wild Honey Pie’s Beehive event. All these parties had phenomenal artists and short lines if you arrived early enough.
SXSW converged all the conferences this year (Film, Interactive, and Music) by allowing badge holders to attend all three. Capital One led the way during Interactive week with its nightly concerts at the Capital One House at Antone’s. They did an awesome job curating lineups and providing up and coming bands the opportunity to play on the same bill as superstars. In the best way to honor Austin, a local band appeared on stage each night. The grand finale was an all Austin lineup featuring A Giant Dog, Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit) and Black Joe Lewis! In past years, Samsung has pulled out all the stops by bringing the biggest names in the industry. This year we thought they were going to skip the festival altogether but at the last minute they announced a rap legend would be playing in a very small venue. Dell brought some great music to its Dell Experience stage.
Below find some of the artists that stood out to us this year, the buzz acts that SXSW is all about!
Alice Jemima – wooed the crowd with multi-layered heavenly pop jems
Buggsy – melted the mic with rapid fire grime rhymes
Calliope Musicals – spread love and hope with giant props, confetti, lasers and phenomenal folk rock
Diet Cig – provided nonstop high energy moves and outstanding rock music
Gabriel Royal – sweet baroque pop melodies and beautiful vocals enthralled the crowd
IDLES – melted faces with unabashed British punk rock
JAIN – wowed crowds with breathtaking French pop
Joywave – tore down the Capital One House with unique and catchy electro-pop
Matt Maeson – performed amazing alternative rock perfection
MC Frontalot – dropped the nerdiest of nerd bars in his one of a kind style
New Politics – swung from the rafters providing a powerful rock spectacular
Quiet Company – won over new fans with pure Austin rock n roll
QUIX – had the crowd jumping to his New Zealand trap EDM bangers
Rainbow Kitten Surprise – surprised the hell out of us with catchy indie rock tunes and exceptional dance moves
San Fermin – brought the party with quintessential baroque pop
The Accidentals – played the most effervescent folk rock sets a hotel lobby has ever seen
TINNAROSE – provided harmonies and melodies so beautiful they brought a tear to the eye
Tunde Olaniran – preformed astonishingly fresh hip hop and brought their all-inclusive message of love and acceptance
Weaves – destroyed the stage with eclectic and wild indie rock
Yoke Lore – blew the roof off a rooftop performing electro-banjo-indie-pop fire
There are 6 slide shows below, please check them all out!
Photos by Alex Freeman of AVFreeman Media
Photos by Maggie Boyd
Photos by Bang Ho
Photos by Justin Fain
Photos by MF Mabel
Photos by Hilary Barton
Photos by MF James