So we have our SxSW routine down:
- Wake up at 5 am.
- Sh!t, shower, shave.
- Drive downtown and get in line by 6 am for the KUTX morning shows at the Four Seasons.
- Eat tacos and listen to the KUTX shows.
- Eat lunch at Fareground a couple block away.
- Listen to randoms through the afternoon (one afternoon downtown, one in East Austin, one on South Congress).
- End the day at an official SxSW hotel show with drinks and appetizers.
- Go home, shower, go to bed, sleep, and get up the next day and do it all again.
To sum up: Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.
Following this routine, we generally see 40 to 50 bands over three days and try new food downtown. Each part of town has it’s own general musical theme with downtown favoring international fare, East Austin hosting edgier tunes, and SoCo hosting mostly Americana and geriatic punk. And the best part? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges or wristbands. Aside from the admission/donation for the KUTX shows, it’s all FREE! And if you choose carefully, the drinks and food canbe free too (although we don’t make that a priority)!
For a $15 donation (required), you get to see four bands, get a decent taco (with decenter salsa), and bottomless coffee (including Fara, one of the sponsors!) at the KUTX show at Four Seasons. Well worth it to get the day going (and no joke, the line is long at 6 am for shows starting at 7 am!).
With Farground right around the corner, it’s a convenient spot to eat provisions and plan for the rest of the day. Fareground has undergone some changes over the past few months with the loss of Antonelli‘s and Easy Tiger from the line-up. However, stalwarts Henbit and Dai Due Taqueria remain with new additions from TLV and Italic (Fareground needs to update their website…).
Opening a day before SxSW, TLV, focused on Israeli street food, was rather fantastic. They were still working through some glitches (the espresso machine wasn’t espressing itself and Mom’s borekas were broke Friday morning) when we visited, but we all left impressed.
TLV flew in from the highly-praised food truck Hummus Among Us and is the brainchild of Berty Richter, a classically-trained French chef with Israeli, Hungarian, and Turkish roots who has worked in Israel, Barcelona, and New York. We found the Chicken Hawaiej Hummus (chicken thighs in Yemenite blend, onions, green tahini, amba, and schug) dream-inducing (and ordered it two days in a row). Our fellow SxSWers in from Nashville enjoyed their enormous be-pitas. And Mom’s Boreka’s, which appeared on Day 2, were quite healthy in size.
dai due taqueria
We adore Dai Due, and consider them to be one of the top five restaurants in town, and we adore tacos (we are Austinites, after all…). So what happens when you get Dai Due chocolate in my taco peanut butter? Dai Due Taqueria! Dai Due as a taco joint exhibits the same inventiveness and pasture-to-plate (tableland-to-tortilla?) as headquarters including a SxSW special: The antelope burger!
Henbit’s mothership is Emmer & Rye and, similar to momship, Henbit slings up fresh and local ingredients into healthy bowls and wraps that induce smiles with their bright and cheery presentation. Just the right dish to atone for a previous evening of too much tequila!
Italic now has a presence in Fareground.
austin taco project
Our first experience with Austin Taco Project was a boutique event where the chef chef’d up some street tacos (and drinks) for a dozen foodies. We were amply impressed and vowed to return, which we finally did this SxSW (twice!). Since the Project is nestled into the back of the Hilton Austin, they hosted official SxSW late-afternoon/early-evening hotel shows. On our first evening, we went Russian roulette and ordered the five-taco plate where the chef chooses the tacos. This was a great way to sample the fare with the five tacos arriving pinwheeled about a bowl of street corn. We stopped in another night after a bust (food-wise) at a rooftop hotel bar. Again, delicious drinks and deliciouser tacos. Definitely worth a stop.
As an added bonus, we saw what is perhaps the best (undiscovered) band we’ve heard at SxSW in all the years we’ve been here: Wolf & Moon. Moody folk with wispy electronics from Berlin.
We tried out a couple of the new rooftop bars for hotel shows. The spaces are phenomenal with striking views and tableaus for performers, but the bites and sips were disappointing. The menus were too limited for drinks and food (in one case, you had to be a hotel guest to order food). Nonetheless, we partook of what we could, listened to some music, and then disembarked elsewhere for real food (the Austin Taco Project one night and Cielo Bistro Mexico on another).
Azul Rooftop Bar & Lounge perches atop the Westin Austin Downtown. Spectacular views but OK drinks and no food (back to Austin Taco Project!).
On another night, we checked out Edge Rooftop Bar & Cabanas perched atop the J.W. Marriott. Again, drinks OK; food limited to cheese and chips [sigh].
Finally, we got our hair-of-the-dog Sunday morning at Trudy’s North Star. Nothing like a messy plate of TexMex to end the weekend.
the bands (in chronological order):
Ahhh: Thursday morning at 7 am at the KUTX show at the Four Seasons.
1. heart bones
An Austin band with Sabrina Ellis making 70s-sounding dance music. interwebs
Another local hero, Bayonne (interwebs)
3. cautious clay
Hailing from New York City, Joshua Karpeh brought the R+B to the show. (interwebs)
These folks traveled from London (England) to play their moody-muse at SxSW. Bonus: the keyboardist had a mess of Eurorack. (interwebs)
Sadly, Whole Foods didn’t have shows on its rooftop (a fave stop for us), so we listened to a bit of what was happening at Waterloo Records before heading back downtown.
Morgxn is from Los Angelese although the progenitor grew up in Nashville. He’s sung on two Tiesto tracks (interwebs).
… walking walking…
We wandered 6th street until we were intrigued by an afternoon of music from New Zealand, so in we went! A blissfully diverse and fun group of acts.
6. emily browning
Emily is Australian (and must live in Kiwiland now?) and is an actress (Sucker Punch!) and singer, belting out some decent girl-and-her-guitar tunes. (interwebs)
7. swallow the rat
With members from Austin and New Zealand, these blokes ripped through a short set of post-punk psychedelia. (interwebs)
8. emily fairlight
Yep: She’s from New Zealand (and lives in Austin [major Austin-NZ connections here…]) and strums pleasant country western. (interwebs)
9. the beths
Big buzz about The Beths as the glitterati of black-bedecked-and-badged upper-middle-aged rock writers oozed through the crowd to the stage. And for good reason: great energy and good songs! Neat moment: Elizabeth’s smile of absolute joy when the disco ball engaged! (interwebs)
10. french for rabbits
All New Zealand, all the time (interwebs).
11. jackie bristow
Jackie lives in Austin but with roots in New Zealand and Australia. Texas has definitely seeped into her country sound.
Korean heritage but born on the outskirts of kiwi-land, hans began posting rap videos and suddenly found himself something of an international sensation.
Hailing from the small town of Nelson in New Zealand (where old friends of ours built and operate a brewery!).
14. wolf + moon
Wolf + Moon is quite possibly the best band we’ve seen at SxSW in all these years. For me, this music checks all the boxes: folky with electronics, great songwriting and hooks, beautiful vocals. These folks hail from Germany with roots in the Nederlands (and are sweet as brown sugar) and deserve to be BIG.
15. grace pettis
Local singer-songwriter from Lookout Mountain, Georgia (and recently signed to BMG) wails the Americana!
Day 2 started with local heroes smile.
17. moving panoramas
18. steve earle and the dukes
The legendary Mr. Earle:
19. patty griffin
Followed by the legendary Ms. Griffin:
… walking walking…
20. wolf + moon
Yep: Saw ’em again.
21. my life as ali thomas
All the way from Bangkok!
All I can say about Surfbort is: HOLY. SHIT. An absolutely mesmerizing mess of straight-ahead goofy punk and confusion. One of the best live shows I’ve seen in a long, long while. And fun as hell!
23. the reputations
25. high wasted
Spunky photogenic surf rock from Brooklyn.
26. moist flesh
A smorg of influences from Washington D.C.
28. anabelle chairlegs
Psychedelia from Austin.
29. ringo deathstar
Longtime Austin shoegazer band.
30. suzan kocher
From Germany to Austin’s rooftops.
31. abhi the nomad
Born in India, Abhi parlays his hip hop into melodic tunage.
32. jealous of the birds
Angst from Northern Ireland.
British country soul!
34. tomar and the FCs
Soul from South Austin.
… walking walking…
35. genital panic
Local punk band formed after Trump became president.
36. dylan leblanc
These boys are from Shreveport.
37. big joanie
All the way from London.
38. hayes carll
39. city in the clouds
From Princeton, New Jersey.
40. sam eagle
Youngster from Essex named after a muppet.
In from Wrexham UK.
43. mystery band
And that’s a wrap! Until next year!