SXSW 2023 Recap: The Good, The Bad and The Inclement Weather

Dream Wife

While 2022 saw the return of SXSW as an in-person event after 2020’s cancellation and 2021’s pivot to online, last year’s edition still felt a bit weird with the spectre of COVID still hanging over our heads. This year, however, felt a little more normal, though the festival seemed to continue its trend over the last few years of feeling a little bit lighter than it did in the past.

This year also saw cooler than expected temperatures as well as the arrival of a big storm on the Thursday night, which definitely put a bit of a damper on the proceedings for that evening. And though the weather didn’t always cooperate, we still found a lot to like about this year’s SouthBy, as well as a couple of things to complain about. Here, then, is our rundown of how the week went for us.


Best Act

Gary: It should be Sports Team for sheer rockstar drama, but Thao takes the cake.

Ricky: it’s hard to go against New Order playing a set of their greatest hits and being only five feet from the stage but a non-New Order act would probably be Dream Wife.

Paul: There were many acts who could potentially vie for the title of “best thing I saw all week,” including a few old faves like Voxtrot, Superchunk and New Order, but I think I’m going to have to give it to Dream Wife. Killer show.

Steam Down

Best New Discovery

Paul: I’ll pick two. Steam Down put on an incredible show, bringing exactly the right energy to keep me going late into the night on a day when I’d already been up and on the go for way too long. And Brandt Brauer Frick were also great – they definitely made it worth my while to brave the rain and the cold on Thursday night.

Gary: The Orielles.

Ricky: For me, it’s either LÜCY and her charms or Dream Wife and their absolutely most fun show.

Biggest Disappointment

Gary: Didn’t have time to do homework and lacked anticipation… fixed that quickly after a few shows.

Paul: Missing out on Tangerine Dream. And missing out on Max Cooper. And also missing out on Jeff Tweedy. But is it really even a music festival if you don’t miss out on something you wanted to see?

Ricky: Honestly, the weather – I had read it was gonna be 24 degrees and brought 3 tank tops that I could not wear throughout the week.

be your own PET

Most Memorable Moment

Gary: “Your Yalla burger is ready… nah, it’s gonna be 15 minutes.” Seriously, how a food-truck vendor can piss off so many while trying to give away a burger is beyond me.

Ricky: Probably the SXSW comedy show hosted by Nick Thune with Christina Martinez, for all the right or wrong reasons. Also the Manchester mayor saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ because Manchester refused to work with cotton from America during the time of slavery was quite the proclamation.

Paul: I will second Ricky’s nomination of Christina Catherine Martinez’s performance as most memorable. Her appearances at that Sunday night comedy show and as part of the “silent clown ballet” Swan Leak are both moments that will stick with me for a while.

“This Could Only Happen at SouthBy”

Paul: Tuesday night. I’m sitting at the back of Flamingo Cantina, watching Philly ska/punk outfit Catbite play their midnight set when a guy leans in and asks, “You like this shit?”

“Yeah, they’re not bad.”

He eyes me suspiciously and continues his line of inquiry. “Did you like No Doubt back in the day, then?”

I guess he was hoping I would be a similarly grizzled veteran of the rock ‘n roll life who would agree with him that The Clash were better (and yeah, maybe they were, but what’s that really got to do with anything?) but I think he mostly just wanted to tell someone that he played Flamingo Cantina with Daniel Johnston back in the day. Fair enough. I guess I’d be telling random folks about that too if I was him.

Gary: Listening to a Taiwanese band yet still having space to move my arms.

Ricky: We’ve been here so many times it’s kind of hard to process what’s normal, but anytime you can see 10 shows in one day with bands from all over the world from Taiwan to Europe to New York with music ranging from pop to electro to folk to hard rock, it’s pretty special.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest