Jim Carroll on 20 acts that caught his eye at SXSW,
Last weekend South By Southwest in Texas celebrated 25 years on the go. In the intervening time it has grown from provincial beginnings to become the biggest live music showcase on the planet. There were plenty of big names this year, from Kanye to The St
EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas, so we shouldn’t be too surprised at the size of Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) festival. It wasn’t always like this. In 1987 four locals put on an event to highlight acts in the southern and southwestern states, and SXSW was born.
As the event marks its 25th anniversary, it has become the biggest live music bash on the global music calender.
The scale of SXSW is staggering. There are film and interactive strands, both of which attract huge crowds in their own right. When it comes to the music strand, there’s an industry conference with panels and keynote speeches, and a trade show for anyone who wants to network.
But it’s SXSW’s live music content that draws the crowds. There are more than 2,000 bands in town for the event, and they’re playing shows at all hours of the day and night in what is the self-proclaimed live music capital of the world.
Aside from the official showcases, you have day parties in every venue in town – and you also have spaces turned in to live venues for the duration of the festival. Cycling around east Austin last week, it seemed as if every building or backyard in the hood was hosting some sort of live music event.
Aside from hundreds of new acts hoping to get noticed over the week, established acts use the Austin spring break – and the fact that every media outlet on the planet seems to be here to cover SXSW – to plug a new album or upcoming tour or take a big corporate pay cheque.
This explains why SXSW’s musical fix