There’s plenty of reasons why SXSW in Austin, Texas is one of the best loved festivals in the world – the best in breaking new bands, intimate performances from blockbuster acts and of course, to keep you going between bands, more BBQ than you could dream of. Here’s the story of this year’s festival in 24 photos.
The festival was marred by a tragedy that left two dead and dozens injured in the early hours of Thursday morning (March 13). 21-year-old rapper Rashad Owens, who was due to perform at the festival, was charged with two counts of capital murder after it’s alleged he sped down a busy street in a car. A relief fund has been set up for victims of the crash.
Kanye West and Jay Z were among the big names performing, playing a Samsung showcase that drew some controversy online – Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ hit out at a corporations, yet here he was performing for a tech conglomorate. Tyler, The Creator didn’t seem to have any reservations about the rapper’s appearance, however – here he is crowdsurfing during the show.
Neil Young was among the festivals keynote speakers, delivering a speech on how his new high end mp3 player, Pono Music, unveiled at the festival, can change how we listen to albums. Its Kickstarter raised over $2m in two days afterwards. A near-deaf musician who’s had to cancel recent tours because of hearing problems inventing a high definition audio player? Stranger things have happened.
Coldplay staged their live comeback at SXSW, debuting a number of new tracks from upcoming album ‘Ghost Stories’. “We’ve been away a long time, and I can’t think of a better way to come back into the world [than] in the intimate surroundings of Austin and just a couple of 100 people and the millions watching at home,” said frontman Chris Martin of the show, streamed live on iTunes.
Lady Gaga was vomited on and barbecued on a spitroast during her performance at Stubb’s – just another day at the office for the ‘Artpop’ provocatuer. US singer Demi Lovato wasn’t impressed however, accusing the vomit stunt of “glamorising eat[ing] disorders.”
Wikileaker Julian Assange also gave a keynote speech – presumably on how to pull a dodgy Richard Branson impersonation, looking at this picture of his new facial hair and swept back curtains combo. Gotta pass the time in that Ecuadorian embassy somehow, I guess.
In a rare break from pissing off law enforcers, Justin Beiber turned up unnannounced to perform an intimate set to a small crowd at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden.
Jarvis Cocker was also in town to unveil a new documentary focusing on Pulp’s homecoming show in Sheffield in December 2012. The movie, simply entitled Pulp, received its world premiere at the festival, with Jarvis Cocker and director Florian Habicht present.
Newly crowned NME Godlike Geniuses Blondie were also at SXSW, with Debbie Harry giving a Q&A reflecting on 40 years in the band and joining the Dum Dum Girls onstage during their show for a cover of her band’s hit ‘One Way Or Another’.
Bringing their considerable buzz to Austin were London newcomers Jungle, who performed at a number of showcases over the week, airing new material from their upcoming debut album.
Kelis also performed. But more importantly, she also cooked NME some pretty great jerk ribs.
“Their music packs Nirvana grunge with the emotional wallop of Neil Young, and looking around the Red7 courtyard where they played it was difficult to escape the feeling that you were at the birth of a huge new American band,” said NME’s Kevin EG Perry of Pennsylvania newbies The Districts’ show at SXSW.
NME also caught hotly tipped British band Slaves: “their pair of high-intensity shows,shot through with brilliantly observed story-telling and caustic wit, have sealed their reputation as one of the smartest and most entertaining British bands around,” said Kevin EG Perry. They certainly look hungry for success.
Never ones for convention, NY punks Perfect Pussy played tracks from their new album ‘Say Yes To Love’ on a bridge, culminating in the band’s Greg Ambler throwing his bass over the railings into a below river. Never a quiet moment with this lot.
Charli XCX was another performer, also announcing at the festival she’s working on new material with members of Vampire Weekend and Weezer. Bring it on, we say.
We were bracing ourselves for violent outbursts from Leeds scowlers Eagulls, who last year decried the music industry as “all beach bands sucking each others’ dicks and rubbing the press’ clit” – after all, SXSW is full of corporate branding and aspiring “beach” bands. The Yorkshire band kept quiet though, impressing audiences during a series of showcases.
Fresh from announcing a new single, ‘Sunbathing Animal’, and UK tour, Parquet Courts threw a surprise party, featuring performances by Eagulls and Protomartyr as well as a headline set by the Brooklyn punks.
Tyler The Creator was arrested at the festival after allegedly inciting the crowd to riot. The rapper was picked up by police at Austin-Bergstrom Airport following the incident at the Scoot Inn, where he apparently told fans at the Scoot Inn venue to push their way past the venue’s staff, despite the venue already being at maximum capacity. If convicted, he faces a maximum year in prison.
Speedy Ortiz also performed, playing tracks from their ‘Major Arcana’ album and recent EP ‘Real Hair’. Check out the Daniel Johnston-themed Thai food restaurant singer Sadie Dupuis found while in town.
Julian Casablancas performed a wealth of new material with his new band the Voidz in a surprise show. New songs in the set included ‘Ego’, ‘2231’, ‘Biz Dog’, ‘The Phantom of Liberty (Arabic Jam)’, and ‘Dr. Acula’. He also played Daft Punk collaboration ‘Instant Crush’.
Lizzo, as ever, brought the noise.
Finally, Damon Albarn collaborated with Snoop Dogg during his slot at the Fader Fort. As well as playing a host of material from upcoming solo LP ‘Everyday Robots’, the Blur man played a number of Gorillaz songs, finishing up his set with ‘Clint Eastwood’ joined by Dan the Automator and Del the Funky Homosapien, with Snoop coming out midway through to deliver a freestyle.