SXSW 2022: The Recap

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This was the year that the Panic Manual made our semi-triumphant return to Austin for yet another SXSW. This one, would of course be a bit different than other editions – worries about Covid hanging over our heads, work responsibilities clashing with SouthBy funtime, and, oh yeah, the fact that we’re all three years older than the last time we set foot in Austin would obviously all have an effect on our time here. But it was a joy to be back nonetheless and as usual, here is our annual recap post wherein we try to make sense of everything we experienced this year.

Best New Discovery

Gary: Pillow Queens

Ricky: Self Esteem – the show was fun but after listening to the band some more, I’ve determined that I really like them.

Paul: It’s hard to pick just one as there were many great new discoveries – Blackstarkids, Hotel Lux and Crows were all great and Ryder The Eagle was definitely the most memorable and unusual of all the new acts I saw. But maybe the best discovery of the week for me was the latest project of a veteran musician. Catching Mike Watt’s new project MSSV at an unofficial Sunday evening set as part of Chili Dog Fest was definitely a nice surprise. And an incredible performance too.

Best Act

Ricky: No act blew me away this year like The Comet is Coming did in 2019, but there were several notable fun acts. I mean, it’s really just hard to top Dolly Parton but that’s a given. Best new act for me was probably Working Men’s Club, if only because I really dig their New Order vibes.

Paul: I’ll have to second what Ricky said, both in terms of Dolly being hard to beat live and on Working Men’s Club being fantastic. I will also give a shout out to Los Bitchos for putting on a great show – they’re a lot of fun live!

Gary: Hamish Hawk

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Biggest Disappointment

Ricky: My biggest disappointment stemmed from my own inability to separate work and play as I had to work during the festival, but let’s unpack that another time. I was also disappointed that not enough people attended Enjoyable Listens’ afternoon showcase as that was super fun.

Gary: I didn’t have much expectation going in… I also gave up on seeing people wearing masks. That helped, too.

Paul: After three years away from SXSW, even the worst band I saw was still a pleasure to see live – listening to live music in the Austin sun with a beer (or White Claw) in hand makes it hard to be too disappointed in anything. I will admit though that I’m a bit disappointed in myself for missing out on shows from Beck and The Lemonheads during the week, but then again I caught some great new acts (or just caught up on some much needed sleep) in place of them, so again, no real complaints.

Favourite Moment

Paul: Seeing my comedy heroes from Kids In The Hall on a panel discussing the documentary Kids In The Hall: Comedy Punks was pretty great. Also, seeing Geezer Butler and Sebastian Bach talking about the “enduring power of metal” was cool and almost makes up for the near total lack of metal on this year’s (and the past few years’) Music lineup.

Ricky: My Favorite moment was during MEMES’ showcase at Swan Dive, when during the outro part of “Cheer Up”, the lead singer went into the small crowd, got everyone jumping up and down and handed the mic off to either a friend or some fan who then proceeded to go on stage and sing the rest of the song. It made me realized how much I missed that live show energy and was a bit cathartic.

Gary: When Saturday rolled around and 6th Street shed the tumbleweed feeling, I was elated. And a split second after reveling in the moment, realized I best get out of there.

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How did it feel to be back at sxsw again after 3 years (and during a pandemic)?

Gary: A surreal pride that it came together after all, despite the disastrous hypotheticals. Except for Film, which benefits from avoiding timetable clashes with Music once the films are online, SxSW does not work virtually. Plus, it just feels wrong if I’m not a walking billboard for some music production company!

Ricky: It was weird to have some semblance of normal, and quite great. Also, a realization that we are all three years older and so can’t go as hard as possible anymore. Live music is amazing and i’m happy to have seen so many acts.

Paul: It definitely felt strange. But good. But, yes, definitely strange. Starting off slow, the first few days felt a lot lighter than past years, but by the end of the week, the crowds were more or less back in full force … which also felt weird. Still, it was nice to get back into “the thick of it” as KT Tunstall said during her Wednesday night set and I look forward to hopefully going back again for 2023, when things will presumably be a little more back to normal.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest