SXSW Final Recap: Bests, Worsts, etc.


Another SXSW has come and gone. Once again, we reflect on the time that was. Here is the Panic Manual group in a round table discussion.

Favourite SXSW Act

Gary: Suzanne Vega. There’s no comparison to the polish in her stage presence.

Derek: De Lux

Paul: Big Freedia’s set at Fader Fort was the most unique and a lot of fun, but I think I’ll go with Bob Mould as the act whose set I enjoyed the most.

Ricky: I’m torn. Big Freedia’s set at Fader was completely mind blowing and so unique. At the same time, Idiotape’s electric blitz had me craving to see them again. It might be a tie.

Most Disappointing Act

Gary: Milagres. Voice was off compared to record and the music jars with the setting.

Paul: Eagulls. I somehow expected more from them, but there was a bit of a sameness to their stuff. I’m willing to give them another chance though.

Ricky: I was looking forward to seeing Classixx, but they couldn’t locate their laptop and had a lot of sound issues and ended up playing two tracks. That’s too little for them.

Favourite Moment

Derek: Tie up between being backstage for Big Freedia/Being in the photo pit for Blondie. Debbie Harry’s still got it.

Gary: When Allen Stone told people to get the f*** out if they don’t want to dance.

Ricky: When Damon Albarn played On Melancholy Hill.

Paul:When the guitarist for Athens tech/prog metal trio Lazer/Wulf apologized to the crowd at Red Eyed Fly for not being very metal because he was smiling so much, but explained that he was just happy to be at SXSW, adding at the end of their next song,”I can’t believe we’re here!”

Break Through Act

Gary: Badbadnotgood. Fresh drum rhythms and energetic stagecraft, even through the set was early and the crowd was thin.

Ricky: It’s hard to tell because Haim and Bastille were obviously the big winners last year. Maybe I went to the wrong shows. From the acts that I have not heard of, I can see Prides or the Colourist doing well in the future, their music is pretty primed for big time. From the acts that I heard of, Sam Smith is also primed.

Derek: I didn’t have any moments like previous years where I felt absolutely floored and blown away by a band I hadn’t seen before. That’s likely more due to my own unwillingness to wait in long lines..

Paul: Fat White Family

Was this SXSW any different than previous years?

Paul: Yes and no. On the one hand, the corporate branding continues to grow and the crowds on 6th Street come Friday and Saturday night become less and less tolerable, but on the other hand, one can avoid or ignore a good deal of that and just take in the music. Also, pizza from Subway. I think that was new this year.

Derek: I felt like the lines were longer for the unofficial showcases, despite feeling like official festival attendance was lower this year.

Gary: Fewer turnouts and the vibe has now completely changed from music to corporate advertisement just 5 yrs ago.

Ricky: I feel like more people are complaining about commercialism than before. The music is still strong, and you can certainly make the case that all the people complaining about the corporate narrative should probably divert their energy into checking out some random band from Tokyo instead.

That’s another year at Austin. All in all, SXSW, despite the Doritos stage and Lady Gaga roasting herself on a bbq, is about the music. You can find many things to complain about, but you can also find yourself absolutely charmed by four Scottish girls doing string covers of Chvrches in a coffee shop that you accidentally stumbled upon. That’s the magic of SXSW. That’s why you should go.

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.