This post’s image is by Claudio Fox, featuring Hippo Campus performing at SXSW last year.
Though I once got to visit Austin for an academic conference, I haven’t spent much time in the city. SXSW festival is happening, folks, and it looks amazing, as usual. If you aren’t familiar, SXSW (South by Southwest) is a weeklong extravagance/festival/conference showcasing music, art, and film from established and emerging artists. It’s all about shining the spotlight on a wide spectrum of artists, because so much good content is being made outside of the most well-known mediums. Not only do I want to be at an event like that for the experience, I respect what SXSW is doing so much. But, as you can expect from a music geek like me, the FOMO is hitting hard. I’m from New York, so I guess we get GovBall, but just let me be cranky, okay? I’ll get there one day.
The SXSW Spotify has a bunch of great playlists featuring their involved musicians, but honestly if you have the time, go through the list (it’s a long one, but trust me) and look at artists that catch your eye. Maybe they have an out-there name, or maybe they play a genre that you like. Go discover!
If I had the time–and regrettably, I don’t–I would make you all a master playlist of my favorite artists from the festival. Maybe next year it can happen, but for now, here are some of my favorite artists playing at SXSW this year:
London has these marked sections in the Underground for buskers to perform, but the process is crazy. You have to get a license, audition to get a part, and show up at your spot for an assigned period of time. That’s how I first found Harry Pane: I was in a rush on my way to class one day, but I heard this incredible guitarist along my route. I snapped a picture of his Twitter, dropped a quick tip, and hurried to catch my train. As soon as I got in front of a computer, I looked him up, listened to a couple of his songs, and I was hooked. Imagine a more folk-sounding Ed Sheeran, but more stripped down and ambient than Frank Turner. Later I got to attend a show he was opening at, and all I can say is wow.
I actually knew Sunflower Bean’s bassist and vocalist, Julia Cummings, when she transferred to my middle school in 8th grade. Of course, she was off opening for Kate Nash with her band Supercute! while I was just beginning my faux-emo phase. Then one day playing Where Are They Now with my old classmates on Facebook. I stumbled upon SB’s album, Human Ceremony, and went “hey, this is actually pretty good!” These folks aren’t afraid to evolve their sound from grungy indie to neo-pop, they’re like Paramore but of a later wave of music.
I can’t say I’m well-versed enough in rap or hip-hop to give an informed opinion, but I love female musicians and Miss Eaves is a gem. You might have heard her single “Thunder Thighs” that was a body positivity anthem last summer, and if you haven’t, go watch the music video and embrace it. For the self-confident boss ladies out there, Miss Eaves is your gal with Feminist anthems for the modern independent woman. I don’t know about you, but I’d seriously love to see her form a trinity of female rappers with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.
Cold War Kids
We all know and love the single “Miracle Mile,” but you might have wondered–like I did–where are they at now? At SXSW of course! Cold War Kids have just the right amount of quirk for popular music fans to eat up, and a likable style that just about anyone can enjoy. If I could summarize Cold War Kids in a sentence, I’d say you would want them as traveling companions while you’re driving across the country hoping to find yourself. When I finally get to SXSW, I’ll have this band on my playlist for certain.
Did you go to SXSW this year and have plenty of opinions? Who is your favorite performer this year? Let me know in the comments or on social media!