SXSW 2018 Music Festival Review by Alyssa Quiles
Another year is in the bag for SXSW and I’ve got to say it was pretty interesting. The festival lived up to its purpose once again, allowing up and coming bands to show off their skills and for people to new music discover music. As always, there were some huge A-list performers too (Keith Urban, Common, T.I., Nathaniel Rateliff) but far less than recent years. Overall it was a safe and more manageable SXSW this year. All genres were included and that’s pretty cool.
Just a few of the main events and showcases this year were: Sony Lost In Music, Fader Fort, Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party & Feedback House, Waterloo Records, Whole Food’s Southwest Invasion, SXSW Outdoor Stage, KGSR W Hotel, NPR, Stub Hub, Capitol One at Antone’s, Twix house, Lost Weekend, FloodFest, Bud Light, Pandora, Hype Hotel, Bud Light, Culture Collide, Empire Control Room, along with the ACC stages: International Day Stage and Radio Day Stage. See the full party lineups here. This year was the first without a SPIN Magazine presence (they usually have the biggest showcase at Stubb’s).
The week started of with a kick-off party at the Main and the Main II, with Superchunk, Bad Gyal, Pussy Riot, Lali Puna, Starcrawler and more.
Andrew W.K performed a few times at a few venues during the week giving a very energized and positive performance each time. While he was punching the air and giving us probably one of the most passionate performances I have seen, audiences danced and sang along, at one point even starting a mosh pit in the middle of the crowd at Waterloo Records.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats gave the crowd an amazing performance at the SXSW Outdoor Stage. With beautiful melodies and lyrics, and the city skyline behind them, they took control of the stage and made it theirs. They were the perfect end to a great day of music.
Dashboard Confessional had one of the larger crowds I saw at the festival, standing in the back, the experience was more enjoyable since I didn’t have to worry about if my eardrums were going pop from how loud the speakers were. They had an amazing set, giving throwing it back with some old tunes and giving us a couple of newer ones.
Rainey Street hosted an assortment of showcases from Twix House of Duos to StubHub Culture Collide and M&M’s showcase. Surrounded by mega hotels- the just opened Fairmont and the VanZandt, tall apartment buildings and new construction projects, Rainey has dramatically changed in just a few short years. The once run-down area near the convention center still allowed show goers to feel like they were in a private alcove of music and fun.
The Radio Day Stage and International Day Stage showed off some of the best music from around the country and the world. It’s always one of our most recommended showcases each year. Artists such as Nikki Lane, La Fragua Band, Lali Puna, Gato Presto, Lola Marsh, The Shacks, lovelytheband, Lo Moon, Melat, and so much more. Provided by popular radio stations like KCRW (L.A.) and KUTX (Austin), listeners were able to experience all types of genres in a single day in a comfortable environment at the Austin Convention Center.
In the Market Place there was the Flatstock music stage where you could sit down, relax and enjoy some music while recharging your phone and yourself until you were ready to take on the festival once more. Flatstock stage featured artists such as Bifannah, C-Kan, Luna Lee, Terra Lightfoot, machina among others.
Not only were there a ton of shows, there were plenty of keynote speakers and sessions as well with many professionals in the music industry. Linda Perry and Kerry Brown discussed the future of artist development. Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, talked with Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic and writer of Marvel’s Black Panther comic book, discussing politics and pop culture. Music keynote speaker Lyor Cohen talked about the changes he has seen in the industry and how the changes in the world and YouTube, streaming and offered inspiring words for those who want to succeed in the music business.
One of the big showcases we were most looking forward to was the Bud Light The Roots and Ludacris at Fair Market which was canceled last-minute due a bomb threat by a local teen (who was since arrested).
Highlights: There were thousands of bands and showcases. If we had to choose (but we can’t), here are our favorites of the week: Matt Bellamy’s Dr. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band & The Stroke’s Albert Hammond Jr. at Rachael Ray Feedback Party, Sony Lost in Music, HAIM at Bumble’s party, Flo-Rida, Kurt Vile, Margo Price, Common, August Greene & Tinashe at Vevo’s party, Lukas Nelson, Caitlyn Smith, Old Crow Medicine Show, All of Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion (semi-sxsw), Nikki Lane, Lynyrd Skynyrd (film red carpet), Jerry Williams, Matt & Kim, Pussy Riot, Tank & the Bangas, Shakey Graves, Dashboard Confessional, Bishop Briggs, Keith Urban, Cam.
Shows we’re bummed we missed: Khalid, BONES, Sons of Illustrious Father, Acid Dad, Bad Pony, Natalie Prass, Jade Bird, Japandroids, Todd Rundgren, Sunflower Bean, The Roots, Blackilac, Max Richter, Shamir, Speedy Ortiz, Sylvan Esso, Say Anything, Porches, Willow Smith, Cloves, Wycleaf Jean (we heard he played guitar with his teeth!).
See all our 25+ posts and galleries from this year here. You can also search by SXSW.
This year was an amazing year at SXSW. There was plenty to do for everyone and so many shows to see, we can’t wait to see what next year brings us. Overall, the fact that it was a safe SXSW (despite a serial bomber in town) was truly the most important thing and we hope that trend continues.