Four hours sleep and back at it. The music industry’s work hard, play hard tactic applies here. With The Fader heading up one of the best parties in the city, I wait in line for over an hour in 30 degree heat to get my Fader Fort wristband.
There’s something special about wandering around in cities you feel lost in. Sixth Street is the craziest street in Austin. Think of Camden on a Saturday afternoon in summer. Located within the city’s urban core, Sixth Street is the heart of SXSW and it marches to its own beat night and day. I spend an hour here people watching.
There are no queues at SXSW. Only lines. And the hotter the band, the longer the line – with some lines running right around the block. Music badges get you primary access to most of the official music showcases, but most venues are at capacity from the moment doors open.
Managing to cut the line with my press pass, I squeeze my way in to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 for Pale Waves. The place is packed out for Manchester’s indie pop newcomers fronted by Heather Baron-Graci. The first time Matt Healy heard Pale Waves he declared he needed to work with them.
Another British band making their mark stateside are Flyte. The Island Records boys charm the audience at Seven Grand with new singles “Moon Unit” and “Victory Girls”.
Billie Eilish is redefining what it means to be a pop artist. Over at Vevo House, stars including Noah Cyrus have turned up to watch Billie smash it. Her stage presence and individual style lets you know she’s already a star.
There are no words for seeing Dermot Kennedy live. The lyrics and production cut deep, and songs come to full completion through Kennedy’s impassioned delivery.
I feel proud to be British as I overhear American tastemakers and A&Rs asking “who is this guy?”. Drawing comparisons to James Blake and Bon Iver with a nod towards Drake and Kendrick Lamar, Dermot Kennedy is on the verge of breaking internationally.
Introducing his final song “Moments Passed”, Dermot explains: “It’s about a past love that was taken away too soon, and the enduring attempt to carry on through life without resentment.”
Words by Hayley Thompson // @hayleyyt_