SXSW Festival 2013 Review

South by Southwest is not a music festival, it is a music explosion. From side walk to bar and backyard to warehouse, Austin, Texas transforms into a city wide showcase of the newest musical happenings.

Music lovers scurry around the city trying to catch secret parties and follow twitter feeds in hopes of finding a hidden show. Exhaustion sets in, but the love for art and appreciation of creation drives us onward to the next set.

This is where musicians from around the world find inspiration. New names are discovered, artists collaborate, and anything is possible. Some call it summer camp for the music connoisseur, but I call it “a nation under one groove.”


Above: Austin from the rooftop of Club 219 West. One of the many music venues of SXSW.


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Left: TOKiMONSTA at the FEED party, breaking down some amazing bass smashing beats.

Right: DJ Pbdy at the Brainfeeder showcase, bouncing with an energy as high as his music.

This year’s SXSW blasted off at the AMOA-Arthouse #FEED night, hosted by twitter. Flying Lotus brought some of the best on his Brainfeeder label. Teebs, visual artist as well as music producer from LA, provided mellow bass sounds that sent the crowd into the clouds. TOKiMONSTA, the first female signed to Brainfeeder and one of the few females holding it down in a male dominated industry of DJ’s and producers, brought us back down to earth with heavy hip-hop inspired bass that rocked the crowd all night.

Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label has been signing LA based DJ’s/producers since its launch in 2008. Following the arthouse show on the 12th, the Brainfeeder showcase on the 13th presented Azizi Gibson and The UnderachieversThe Underachievers, signed to Brainfeeder in 2012, are the first hip-hop crew to be added to the label. Their album Indigoism dropped February this year. Issa Dash and Ak are tearing up the hip-hop scene, with elevated lyrics and a magnetic stage presence. It’s artists like this that are bringing hip-hop back to life.


There is a certain kind of insanity that consumes humanity on the famous live music 6th Street during SXSW. On March 14th, I made my way to the other side of the river to hang out on South Congress, eat ice cream, escape the ruckus, and catch artists at Music by the Slice. This area boasts a treasure trove of surprises; every venue rocks like a backyard show, and you can’t walk ten feet without finding another incredible hidden attraction.

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Left: Slow Magic‘s live performance incorporates self produced tracks, live midi madness, and live tom drums, which he beats so hard his hands began to bleed. His full-of-life performance was my favorite of the week.

Right: Young Galaxy

Later that evening in front of a food truck I bumped into bluegrass band Haun’s Mill, who rocked folk tunes.



Above:  XXYYXX at night, run by twitter. This 17 year old DJ/producer combines old school hip-hop tunes with avant-garde electronics, which creates a uniqueness that is sometimes lacking in the electronic music scene.

The Air up There, hosted by Texan companies, showcased an amazing line up. The team consisted of booking and productions company Banjos to Beats, Texas music blog Dance Your Face Off, and Gravitas Recordings.

On Friday March 15th, they showcased Keys N Krates, a three person group from Toronto. Keys N Krates are bringing the element of live music back to the electronic scene. With a keyboardist, drummer, and one on the turn tables, they killed it with their drops, without a laptop in site. Others on the line up included XXYYXX, and local Austin artist Govinda.


Despite all of the big names and to be discovered pop sensations floating along the Austin city streets which filled up venues with musical stylings from the future, it was the hidden treasures found in back yards, side streets, and under bridges, that made SXSW a magic filled experience.

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Left: Shakey Graves, spotted at a local Austin home, beats his converted suitcase kick drum with old timey back porch tunes.

Right: Candle lit secret show under the 6th St Bridge, all acoustic sets with local bands, Some Say Lealand and Mother Falcon.


BF/GF Sex: This gem of SXSW was found playing in an abandoned parking lot on East 6th Street. Starting dance parties in the streets of Austin, this group from Nashville, Tennessee played as long as they could every night (at least until the cops came). Check out their various stylings; their single “Don’t Care” and this acoustic song recorded at SXSW.


While in a music haze on the last day of SXSW, I caught Toro y Moi at the Hype Hotel for a live funkadelic set, stumbled upon Sohn at the British Music Embassy, checked out Austin venue The Museum of Human Achievement, and made it to a set of A-Trak. Then the explosion subsides, the artists leave, and it’s goodnight SXSW.


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