AUSTIN — For the last week, the worlds of tech, film and music have converged in the heart of Texas for South by Southwest, or SXSW. Much more than a festival, SXSW offers conferences, panels, showcases, expositions and other outlets for creative exchange and professional development. SXSW is a space to network, to exchange ideas and to get discovered. Arts reporter Anna Carey headed down south Tuesday, into the SXSW mayhem. Here is a recap of her first few days in Austin.
For the nighttime music festival portion of SXSW, about 2,000 acts perform at bars, clubs and concert venues concentrated in downtown Austin. The showcases are stacked with all genres of music coming from both well-known and just discovered acts. Check out some pictures below from a sampling of performances from the last few days:
Future Islands’ music and its eclectic performance style have launched the Baltimore-based band into the national spotlight. Lead singer Samuel Herring romps around the stage, kicking his legs in the air and stuffing his entire fist in his mouth. It is no surprise how popular the band has become in the last few months.
The California Honeydrops:
The California Honeydrops put on shows you can’t help but dance to. Hailing from Oakland, the band brought some Bay Area flavor into Southern-style jazz and soul music for its performance Thursday night.
Earl Sweatshirt dominated the Pandora stage with songs from I Don’t like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt. Spitting rap and jumping around onstage with guest performers, he brought the energy that he repeatedly complained was missing from the audience.
Bleachers has only been around since a little more than a year ago, but the band’s first release, “I Wanna Get Better,” became an instant hit. Fun. fans will recognized the band’s guitarist, Jack Antonoff, as the man behind the band’s formation and its lead singer. While the band’s music is most aptly categorized as mainstream pop-rock, Antonoff’s awkward yet charming stage presence makes it difficult not to like it.
Pow! Wow! Hawaii/street art:
Pow! Wow! Hawaii is a weeklong mural festival that occurs annually and is expanding into other cities around the world. It has accumulated a global network of some of the world’s most active street artists. For SXSW, Pow! Wow! artists have teamed up with Austin artist collective Spratx to beautify Austin’s walls, as the picture above illustrates. On Thursday, street artists from around the world headed to Castle Hill, the site of HOPE Outdoor Gallery, for the third annual “ReCREATE” festival. The graffiti is three tiers of stepped walls set into a hill. Most days of the year, anyone can register to paint a mural and take over a spot on the wall. They just have to obey some unwritten laws that have developed from the community-based art project: Don’t paint over someone’s new work, try to improve, not take away from what’s on the wall, and don’t bring negativity to the space.
Pow! Wow! Hawaii wasn’t the only group to bring street art to this year’s festival. Check out some of the other murals from the week below:
Snoop Dog gives keynote address:
There are few artists who have had such a profound influence on music as Snoop Dogg, this year’s keynote speaker for the music section of SXSW. As one of the most significant artists in hip-hop history, the rapper has collaborated with and supported artists from across genres. While his goofy persona made his address humorous — he talked about how much he loves smoking weed every few sentences — Snoop Dogg was well spoken and insightful. He talked about growing up in Long Beach in the ’70s, his outlook on what it means to be a leader and his nonprofit, the Snoop Youth Football League. He told a delightful story about eating KFC in Amsterdam with Willie Nelson and also declared that his proudest moment was when his son decided to go to college, making the boy the first in his family. As a powerful shaper of music and popular culture, Snoop Dogg reflected the core principles of SXSW: to be inventive, creative and passionate about whatever you do.
Anna Carey is a senior staff writer. Contact her at [email protected]