SXSW 2019 – A Recap

Yet another SXSW is in the books and it’s time for the ATH crew to reminisce a little and offer some highlight from the week behind us. I think we’ve had enough time now to take a few deep breaths, collect our thoughts, and delve through tons of notes and photos. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll offer up awards to bands, venues and events worthy of such praise. It will be glorious. Hit the jump for a full recap with photos.

Notes from each ATH staff member are listed by their name/nickname.

Top 6 bands

RayRay

  1. Viagra Boys – Saw them twice and was incredibly impressed both times.
  2. The Beths – Amazing set at Parish.
  3. Laura Jane Grace – She looks like she’s having fun again.
  4. Bad Moves – Fun band full of energy and spunk.
  5. Proud Parents – Great dueling vocals and high energy sound.
  6. Shadybug – One of my band’s to watch who delivered big time.

Nathan

  1. Rosie Tucker – 3x was not enough. Great songs, solid banter.
  2. Jonathan Bree – Baroque pop by a faceless band.
  3. Murray Lightburn – He played “There Goes My Outfit;” I cried.
  4. Weakened Friends – Another powerhouse act from our Day Show.
  5. Bones Garage – We’re putting out this album, and their sets showed us why.
  6. The Chills – Bucket list, check.

Nicole

  1. Pool Holograph – They were at our day show and seriously killed it–tight knit guitars have my heart.
  2. Illuminati Hotties – Caught them twice, and was not disappointed either time. Bonus points for splendid banter and dance moves.
  3. Black Midi – Very similar to Ought both in look and sound, though this isn’t really a bad thing.
  4. Sasami – Held up to the hype for sure. Killer and unique vocals.
  5. Fontaines D.C. – I only got to hear three tracks, as something broke, but helluva front man left me wanting to see a proper set.
  6. Japanese Breakfast – Ok, yea, they’re already big; sue me. They still made a 30 minute set feel like a full concert.

 

 

Best Overall Venue

RayRay: Cheer Up Charlies – Still love the inside/outside stage combination with a place in the back to chill if you need a break. Also never felt overly crowded and the folks in attendance were there for music and not to get day drunk on St. Pats day.

Nathan: The Parish – I somehow found myself here multiple times during the week, and I still marvel how that venue just can’t get its act together. The sound was phenomenal each time I ended there, and the lighting was tops. How this place doesn’t get more shows is beyond me.

Nicole:Vegas / Volstead – Best mix of local and touring bands throughout the week. A little outside of the noise of Red River, but always worth the walk over there. Three stages make for the capacity to wander around if one act isn’t killing it for you. However, still big ups to Cheer Ups, as they’re the only venue who didn’t spike/double beer prices.

Best Performer(s)

RayRay: Colourmusic – Obviously I enjoyed Viagra Boys, but our boys from OK really put on a show Sunday at Hotel Vegas. Ryan broke the stage with some crazy antics and Nick may have punched a hole in the bass head from sheer force. Well done amigos.

Nathan: Rosie Tucker – I love clever songs, and I love clever banter. Rosie Tucker gave me that on all occasions. At one point during a party at Dozen Street, the band shared out their AOL screen names, reminding us all of simpler times amidst really great music.

Nicole: Illuminati Hotties – Sarah Tudzin knows how to command a stage and audience attention. While this band’s sound isn’t exactly revolutionary in contemporary music, I hung on to every track and every word she uttered in between songs. She was easy and carefree, which seems counter-intuitive to a band playing like 3 or 4 sets a day with jokes at the ready and a smile, and that made me dig the songs even more.

Band I Loved but Knew Nothing About

RayRay: Greenwave Beth – This band put on a crazy performance inside the Volstead Stage and the beats were dance inducing.

Nicole: Fontaines D.C.– I knew they were buzzing, but only on the advice of trusted friends did I check them out. Worth it.

Best Local

RayRay: Memory Keepers/Ram Vela & The Easy Targets – Memory Keepers had some solid beats on the Volstead Stage and Ram Vela followed them with his usual, high energy show.

Nathan: Black Drumset/Being Dead – Black Drumset has crafted some electronic driven post-rock, and it’s absolutely captivating; rumor has it, the future holds two drummers. Being Dead, well, the best young band in Austin…the Best.

Nicole: Abram Shook / Teddy Glass – I can’t pick! Abram Shook, full band in tow, introduced us to some new synthy songs, but kept the classic steel pedal and horns. Teddy Glass always look at ease on stage, and their tunes just keep sounding better every time I see them.

Band That Fell Short of the Hype

RayRay: David Liebe Hart – This was absolutely painful for me to watch.

Nathan: Viagra Boys – This was the less catchy version of Electric Six.

Nicole:Priests – Maybe I just don’t get it, but their set seemed pretty tame.

Wildcard

RayRay: Best Film/Documentary“Strange Negotiations” – This new documentary about David Bazan directed by Brandon Vedder was a truly ethereal experience for me. I’ve long been a fan of Bazan’s music and this film was visually stunning and emotionally driven with an amazing score by Bazan. I’m not sure when this will be available to view by the public, but I will certainly share news as I have it because this is, simply put, a very important film for our country right now. It provides powerful commentary on the current state of Christianity in America.

Final Thoughts

RayRay: Though some did worry about major traffic issues with school still in session, it did feel like it was a non issue, or at least not any worse than normal. Crowds were definitely much thinner and I’m sure students being in class helped that situation. As is always the case, the city of Austin worked well with SXSW to create safe spaces and plenty of areas to walk freely with closed down streets. I yet again saw some amazing bands both old and new and looked forward to many more years to come.

Nathan: I’ve heard from a lot of people that were disappointed that this seemed like a SXSW Lite…and while I love some of those people…I think they’re absolutely wrong. As a kid in 95′, I went to my first SXSW, bought my wristband at Albertsons; I remember going to a handful of shows (as few were all ages), but it created my thirst for small intimate shows. This year, with the industry sort of in a tailspin, we saw the spirit of SXSW pop back up. The best shows I attended were by small blogs like our own from the Grey Estates and Post Trash, not to mention the great small labels like New Professor putting great bills together. Yes, the Stereogum stuff was under-attended, but I feel like that is because the industry is turning away from the endless scroll. I felt like this was a little bit more of the DIY spirit of SXSW; I get that that might not bring in the money like it has, but I’m 100% fine with that. Also, we missed B. Gray.

Nicole: No badge, still no problem. I SXSW-ed lighter than usual, though went out once a day to catch a few bands. Waited in exactly one line for about 10 minutes, which is just how I like it. As per usual, the best way to SXSW is to not have a strict agenda and just wander around until you find the right vibe. I have decided that proper venues should have a locals-only-Lonestar-prices-policy if you show an Austin address on your ID. 8$ for a can of water Lonestar at a venue that normally charges 4$? I get it, you’ve gotta make money, but come awn!

 

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