As Austin turns up the heat, so does SXSW. To really hustle, your heart has to be in it. With some acts playing up to six showcases in four days, you realise the hunger and thirst not only for success in the music business but to have voices heard is remarkable.
Packed streets filled with every type of artist, manager, A&R, agent, promoter, publicist, media and music fan. The locals are friendly, welcoming and share community spirit. I head over to Aloft Hotel for Universal Music Group’s exclusive all-female emerging artist showcase headlined by Bishop Briggs.
Inside Charli XCX plays over the speakers and strong cocktails are flowing as people gather around the bar talking music. Outside on the roof people wait in anticipation for Bishop Briggs. Known for her high energy sets, Briggs turns it down for a rare acoustic set. No ego, just pure talent.
Stubbs is like a festival within a festival. Tonight the outdoor stage is taken over by NPR Music for their official showcase. I’m here for Superorganism.
Over to The Gatsby where Kelela serenades one of the biggest audiences I’ve seen at South By. Since its introduction in 2012, Pandora at SXSW has served as a launchpad for some of today’s hottest musicians including SZA, Fetty Wap, Halsey, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Walk the Moon and Troye Sivan. Kelela is next on the verge of mainstream success.
I run, literally, over to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 for Sam Fender. It’s 11pm and the venue is at capacity, people are gathered outside trying to get a look in. You don’t realise how influential UK music is until you come to the US. Every uber driver is keen to hear who’s next to break from the UK. After tonight I’ll be shouting about Sam Fender.
There really aren’t enough hours in the day at SXSW. FOMO exists here, but you can’t let it win. My tip after day four is recognising that it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. Slow down and embrace serendipity.