The World's Most Exciting Indie Music Festival Starts Today
I wrote earlier this year that Iceland Airwaves would be my favorite music festival, but SXSW follows a close second. It is difficult to compare the two events: SXSW takes place at the cusp of spring with 1,500 acts or so, and Airwaves happens late fall and is an order of magnitude smaller. Both are similarly great for immersing yourself in music for a few days and enjoying the creative energy of artists from around the world.
We have been to SXSW six times between 2014 and 2019. Like for many others, the pandemic changed priorities, and we skipped 2022 and this year. (In 2020 and 2021, no in-person events were happening.)
But I am very happy that the festival seems to be back in full force with many artists scheduled to perform that we had featured on glamglare. It is crucial that indie music keeps its own global event that shows the creativity and quality of music that is not part of the big entertainment machinery.
So while we're missing the action in Austin this year, we still have many good memories of a unique festival, and I'd like to share a few of them here:
Most Fun Grammy Nominee Meeting
On our first morning in Austin in 2014, a tent was built on the corner of 6th and Red River Streets, where a vaping company ran metal and hardcore shows. We went there in the early afternoon without a specific agenda and saw Nothing More together with a handful of people. After the show, Elke chatted with singer Johnny Hawkins, and we took a few photos with him. We had no idea that this band would move on to the Grammys four years later.
Most Intense Show
Being on your feet from early morning to late night is exhausting, and your energy levels are deep in the red towards the end of an SXSW week. In 2015, the last show on our list was Torres, who played the Presbyterian Church on 8th Street. When we arrived, we dozed off during Swedish band Amason’s beautifully meditative set “Duvan.” Eventually, Brooklyn rocker Torres came on, woke us up, and after her high-energy set, we stayed up for another couple of hours.
Suzanne Vega’s album Solitude Standing was one of my favorite albums of the late 80s. So how lovely was it when we coincidentally shared a table with her and her husband and chatted the afternoon away?
Most Exciting Venue
The HypeHotel was a mini festival organized by the blog aggregator Hype Machine until 2016. As a Hype Machine-listed blog, we received special access that year and used it to see many shows. The beauty of HypeHotel and other similar corporate-sponsored venues is that they put indie acts on stages with stadium-sized sound and lights.
This isn't very objective, but the best showcase was the official glamglare showcase in 2019 at the Townsend. More about it here.
Song Picks of the Day
Listen to/watch all seven songs on YouTube. Follow our daily updated playlists on YouTube and Spotify for the 50 latest Song Picks of the Day.
NYC-based singer/songwriter Olivia Reid takes you to a "Runner's High” in her soaring new track. “I feel the most short of breath when I’m not moving,” she sings. “Are You Diagnosed?” is the all-important question when you need mental health treatment in Britain. London artist Eaves Wilder's new song “is basically a stream-of-consciousness, scream for help rant/report” about her experiences with the health care system.
Tina Boonstra is from Liverpool, and her new song “If I Could” is a deeply moving piece about loss. “I don’t know how to sit with pain and weep for what is lost, hoping for better days even as tears flow down,” she says.
LA pop singer Ayisa wants to believe that great things happen in “Hallucination,” even if they look too good to be true. But, she says: “we should accept and know we deserve amazing things.” For DC duo Oh He Dead, “California” is still where dreams are made. “I feel like it’s where everyone writes their pop songs and the subject of so many pop songs,” singer CJ says.
The Famous Daxx is the moniker of Marina Sprenger, a London-via-Munich art pop musician who just released her debut EP TFD. “Surrender” is a new song with a rather unusual subject for a pop song. Madeline Goldstein is a singer/songwriter from LA who goes deep down into the human psyche in her new song “Other World.” She says: “It’s about not advocating for yourself and the spiral of self-doubt in love and creativity.”
Albums of this Week…
… will arrive next week. We were all out for the New Colossus Festival and had little time to listen to albums.