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SXSW was wild. But that’s nothing new. Every year for the past several decades, Austin, Texas transforms from a bustling’ tech hub to a sweaty, flowing mess of music industry people, performers, brands, and everything in between. We thought navigating the crowd on 6th Street was difficult, boiling down our favorite artists we caught was even more so, but we did it.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the insanity of SXSW has passed, and through it all here are the eight artists that we keep talking about…
We trekked a little further west than we were used to for this one, to the Belmont. It was midnight. It was cold. But inside, the crowd kept the patio warm with energy. The controversial Russian political band Pussy Riot took the stage, declaring war on social injustice worldwide. The stage remained shrouded in shadow as a screen behind the performers displayed the lyrics to the songs, almost karaoke style.
We bumped into Taylor Muse outside of Hotel Vegas an hour before his set. He was leaning casually against the wall, his hoodie zipped up to the top, his hair draping over his face. He was sweet, awkwardly charming, and subtly hilarious. And that character translated to the stage as Quiet Company performed a loud and bombastic set. Rowdy and raucous, the enthused crowd couldn’t help but to move and wiggle throughout the set.
Plastic Picnic performed a short session set at the Do512 Lounge on an otherwise dreary day. But in the red velvet curtained room, the vibes were bright and sunny. Admittedly, we only caught two songs from the Brooklyn quartet, but it left us wanting more and more. Self described “80’s emo pop”, Plastic Picnic wove a dreamy tapestry with whirring guitars and sharp drums.
Seeing Chloe Foy in a church felt nothing but perfect. The large, open room really added a new element to Foy’s quiet, calm music. In lieu of sounding trite, the experience was truly a religious one, rooted in music and the mind getting lost in it. The British songwriter’s voice has an amazing ability to capture your attention for the duration of her set.
Brandon Markell Holmes
On the large patio of Shangri-La, the Midwest Music Foundation constructs a massive stage for a multi-day unofficial showcase. Performing promptly at noon, in the glaring sun, was Brandon Markell Holmes, a Chicago-based, GRAMMY nominated R&B artist. Equipped with a microphone, and accompanied by live drums and back tracks, Holmes put on one hell of a show. Stopping for nothing more than to announce the name of the next song, Holmes danced his way through his half-hour set, quickly winning over the growing audience. Catch our gallery from this set here.
Here we found ourselves in another church. And just as before with Chloe Foy, the setting couldn’t have been any more perfect for Lucy Rose. Setting up each song with charming allegory, Rose’s quick wit and enchanting personality cast a spell on the crowd. As Rose’s music wafted through the pews, the audience’s attention became palpable.
Following Lucy Rose’s quaint performance was Irish vocal powerhouse Dermot Kennedy. Kennedy, and his band, quietly stepped on stage before exploding into song. The entire room fell silent, each person realizing that they were seeing something special. Layered underneath Kennedy’s lush vocal work was the intense sound of his band, moving the tracks forward at an unrelenting pace.
Read our full review of Young Fathers at Irene’s here. We’re still smiling from this set.