Back in March of 2020, one of the first big things to cancel was Austin’s massive new music showcase, South-by-Southwest. 2021 rolled around, and still no in-person. But for 2022, the party was back, all across the Live Music Capitol of the World, Monday-Saturday, March 14th-19th.
Tulsa party @ Augustine’s
It isn’t just foreign countries that hold events at South-by-Southwest, but also cities in the U.S.A., such as Tulsa at Augustine’s. Okay, so the draw was an open bar and free food (your correspondent got the very last taco), but this is SXSW. And the city in Oklahoma went not for your stereotypical country (or showtunes…), but international with the charming, sexy Latin music of La Muñe, sultry Ayilla (who was overwhelmed by the crowd talking, despite best hype efforts of the DJ), and funk-soul-punk of Freakjuice, who had a real Living Colour/Fishbone original fusion vibe going.
Real launch party @ Central District Brewing
There was still time for another Interactive-style launch, this of the Real app at Central District Brewing. It’s an app for artists to sell access passes for their stuff – but the buyer of the access pass can later sell the pass back to the website/app, for the going market rate, so has some of that investing/speculating excitement (without being an NFT or crypto…).
[and your correspondent was very thankful for the free hate, replacing his lost last one from an Australia Day sponsored event, plus Central District Brewing’s award-winning Kolsch beer]
International Day Stage @ Brush Square Park (Registrants Lounge)
SXSW’s Day Stages were previously stuck inside the Austin Convention Center, leading attendees to forget they existed in favor of unofficial parties, but the International Day Stage was taken outside this year, to the Registrants Lounge across the street in Brush Square Park. This meant one might pass by and catch killer Lusophone beats from Brazil’s BIVOLT, who had into her even a crowd of jaded attendees just there for their free daily drink.
Twitch/Rolling Stone showcase @ 3TEN Austin City Limits Live
Video game livestream platform Twitch and music magazine-of-music magazines Rolling Stone had a showcase at 3TEN Austin City Limits Live with Girlpool, Geese, Mattiel, Susannah Joffe, and Closure.
Domino Records showcase @ Half Step
If you have to play South-by-Southwest solo, you might as well bring a streamer and make it a show like BABii did. Opening up the Domino Records showcase at Half Step was never going to be easy, people there for the later buzz acts and smarting over the raised drink prices, so give it to Daisy Warne for staying charming.
It’s not SXSW if you don’t accidentally see an act twice, and the easy listening of Minneapolis’ Night Moves did work well for such a role (even if you were more enjoying looking at the one-in, one-out line that had formed, when you were well inside…).
One will have your feelings about SASAMI going rocker on her new album Squeeze, such as being flanked by two long-haired, kilt-wearing guitarists making for a great image, but also that it’s for ‘show’. Who knows where she’ll go from here, but she did make for a good show.
There was one buzz band above all buzz bands going into SXSW ’22, the buzz band you’ve been hearing about from everyone & their sister for months now: Wet Leg. The girls Heather Chambers & Rhian Teasdale from the Isle of Wight delighted the world with breakout single “Chaise Lounge” (QRO review), and have kept it up, from singles “Too Late Now” (QRO review) and “Angelica” (QRO review) to an American tour that has seen them sell out upgraded venues (QRO NYC review the week prior). All this before their self-titled debut full-length comes out in April.
So, it was a packed house for the band at the first of their many appearances in Austin, yet it still had an intimate feel. Partly that was because the ‘stage’ at Half Step was just a raised area in the back underneath a tent, but also because XX & YY were spotted in the crowd during SASAMI. And you could stand mere feet away as they twirled to open their set, buzzing themselves with cheer, as they played the songs you already knew by heart and the ones you’d never heard before. Yes, it was chaotic (note your correspondent’s photos, attempted to take from one side, over the crowd & a speaker), but SXSW is all about seeing burgeoning acts playing way-too-close (and being told there would be free beer)…
–BLACKSTARKIDS @ Container Bar, 1:00pm – 2:00pm.
–Midlake, Heartless Bastards @ Hotel Van Zandt, 2:00pm – 4:00pm.
–Pussy Riot, Kristen Hersh @ Mohawk, 3:45pm – 5:30pm. One always remembered the horrors happening in Ukraine (your correspondent met a Pole who had seen the refuges firsthand), and nobody would highlight Putin’s barbarity than Pussy Riot.
–Perfume Genius, Kimbra @ Central Presbyterian Church, 10:00pm – 12:00am.