From Bill Murray’s performance poetry, to Elon Musk’s awkward rendition of ‘My Little Buttercup’ during his Q&A, to the bomb threat at The Roots show, SXSW 2018 was one for the ages.
As has stood out every year since its inaugural 1987 run, music once again stole the show in Austin, with acts like White Reaper, Bad Pony and Gang of Youths among some of the most talked-about artists to take in Texas this month.
See our list of seven stand-out acts below:
“Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.” One UK ticketing company founder quoted Larry David after Bad Pony’s final set at SXSW.
At this point of the festival on March 17, the indie-rock band had accrued a legion of followers who chanted the lyrics to tracks like ‘Knife’, ‘Down To You’ and ‘Zombie’ right back at them.
Promoters and agents lined the outskirts of the crowd, nodding in recognition of Bad Pony’s growing reputation. Having completed three national tours since 2015 and with a publishing deal with Perfect Pitch Publishing, and a booking deal with 123 Agency already under their belt, it won’t be long before the band complete a full set of international deals.
Adrenaline-fuelled, raucous and executed with controlled power, Bad Pony’s live set is as indelible as their songs: infectious and satisfyingly polished.
When G Flip took the stage at Secret Sounds’ SXSW showcase, you could almost scan the floor for the dropped jaws of promoters and A&R figures. Her debut show was undoubtedly one of the most talked about in industry and media circles, with delegates waiting up to two hours just to get in to certain sets.
In truth, the Melbourne artist has had the industry lining up since before the release of debut single ‘About You’.
Now with her management deal via Future Classic (Flume, Nick Murphy, Flight Facilities) firmly in place – and US radio already spinning ‘About You’ – G Flip is expected to enter her hometown market with a bang. Expect major festival slots, global record deals and stolen hearts on both sides of the Pacific.
When your self-titled debut album is produced by Ryan Adams and you count Iggy Pop as a fan, you’re already on the industry’s radar. The LA punks put on such confounding showcases with their windstorm riffs and rataplan beats they were even awarded SXSW’s annual Grulke Prize for Developing U.S. Act.
It’s been less than six months since sibling duo Lime Cordiale released their debut full-length album, Permanent Vacation. Labeled an “artistic statement” back then, the record drew sold out crowds in their home country Australia – all off the back of very little radio support.
Proving the benefits of the DIY route since their EP release in 2012, Oli and Louis pulled strong crowds at SXSW with their indie-pop hooks and whipping instrumental breaks.
The duo’s visit to Austin didn’t come without its trials however. The pair’s drummer was sent home from the airport due to Visa issues (thankfully, Thandi Phoenix’s drummer Yanya Boston filled in and didn’t miss a beat), and their car was towed outside Twitter House during their set.
Following their US tour, Lime Cordiale are set to debut their own festival in May to highlight local talent, aptly named The Squeeze.
Gang Of Youths
Fresh from making their US television debut on Late Night with Seth Myers, Gang of Youths were already homegrown heroes upon arrival at SXSW. This year’s crowded showcases and lines snaking down the block outside venues were in stark contrast to the Sydney band’s reception at the iconic conference and festival four years ago.
As the band get set to tour their multiple ARIA Award-winning LP Go Farther In Lightness around Nashville, NYC, LA, Chicago, DC and Toronto – with stops at Bunbury Music Festival and Sasquatch Festival – their critical acclaim has many industry juggernauts nipping at their heels. Don’t be surprised if Gang Of Youths announce another major contract in the coming weeks.
20-year-old Nashville native Sophie Allison has been making introspective indie rock since before she left for college at NYU. Now, with a newly assembled band and a newly assured demeanour, she almost stole the whole show at SXSW.
Performing tracks like ‘Cool’ and ‘Your Dog’ off of this year’s debut LP Clean, the quartet have completely ditched all bedroom-pop epithets to take on tags like “powerful” and “an indie-rock exorcism” (Noisey).
The Louisville quartet played nine shows in four days at SXSW, assembling their setlists onstage at each venue. Given the fact the band’s third and latest LP is titled The World’s Best American Band, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
White Reaper’s polished pop-rock and gutsy braggadocio lyrics were backed up by sardine-crammed crowds at each show; perhaps confirming the band’s self-fulfilling prophecy.