Words & Photos by Cher Dunn

SXSW is one of my favorite festivals of all time. The music marathon that takes over Austin, Texas every year in March truly feels like the kickoff to festival season and a summer of great times – and even better live music. The beauty of SXSW, especially when I first started going six years ago, was the abundance of live music everywhere you went, and seeing your new favorite band play in a random field sponsored by Fader, or in an abandoned warehouse sponsored by HypeMachine. Free drinks and free food were aplenty for the masses of music fans that made their pilgrimage to Texas every year.

Lately SXSW has been cracking down on these sponsored and not “official” SXSW events that just require an RSVP instead of a badge or pass. This did squander some of the fun, separating groups of friends… but it didn’t matter because SXSW, at its core, is about new music discovery, and the amount of new, incredible bands I saw from all over the world rocked me into next year – and I can’t wait to share them with you. 

One of the best parts of SXSW is stumbling upon venues and showcases and discovering your new favorite bands. But there are two specific parties I know I need to make every year: Van’s House of Vans residency at The Mohawk, and BBC Radio 1’s New Music Showcase presented by Huw Stephens at Latitude 30, the “British Music Embassy” at SXSW.

The BBCR1 showcase featured Dream Wife, SWEAT, Let’s Eat Grandma, U.K. rapper Dave, Sam Gellaitry with SLAVES headlining. The show kicked our SXSW into high gear. Seeing SLAVES slay a packed Latitude 30 crowd with their new songs, after playing there three years before, was electrifying. The band even helped part a sea of cameras so their fans could properly start the mosh pit bubbling up throughout their set.

House of Van’s event at the Mohawk every year is hands-down one of the best showcases to check out all week, whether you know what’s going on there or not. The line-up every year is always killer, and even if you don’t recognize one of the artists playing you can be sure to add them to your favorites list after you see them live.

The artists Vans pulls together to play the showcase are always on point, and this year was no different. House of Vans ran for multiple days over the course of the week with sets from artists including: The Black Lips, Mykki Blanco, Meatbodies, The Big Moon, Denzel Curry, Polica, The Black Angels, Temples, Sundara Karma, and French Montana. But it was this year’s secret set by At The Drive-In that won our hearts and exploded our minds. The band’s reunion and news of new music already was breathing fresh air into our lungs, but finding out their first show back was one you were standing in the front for? It doesn’t get any better-or more SXSW- than that.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our SXSW coverage!


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