South by Southwest is the world's biggest showcase festival. With over 1000 acts performing, there is of course a dizzying amount of music to choose from.
I don't know about you, but I've never been good at choosing from such an abundance. I would much rather throw my hands up and let the gods determine my fate than have to work my way through this lineup and make an informed decision.
This combined with the fact that the whole point of SXSW is to discover new bands led me to turn to a higher power to help me make heads or tails of things: a random number generator.
Sticking the whole lineup into a free app, the gods of technology spat out 10 acts for me to see what I thought. Some were revelations, some were not. Check them out below and you can judge for yourself.
When & where: 11:00 pm, March 11 @ Pour Choices
One Shot: 'The One' ft. Amber Navran
I'm a sucker for soulful jazz, so right off the bat this is going well. Taken off their 2018 album A Town Called Elsewhere, "The One" is a dreamy jam with wispy vocals floating overtop a solid chill funk foundation. The track conjures up images of an overexposed polaroid taken from that day you and your friends spent chilling on a rooftop watching the city move around you. The vocals are great but the song really takes off in the second half when the instrumentals take centre stage. I could see this being very good live.
When & where: 10:45 pm, March 15 @ Doris Miller Auditorium
One Shot: 'I Dare You'
It's hard to penalise an up-and-coming artist for not having the gloss that comes along with professional studios, but this could do with higher production value. If you're going to base your track on an atmospheric feel, then the production needs to really bring it. Vocally it's a little pitchy as well. And lyrically Samiere could have dug a little deeper. Overall the song is just a bit standard-ish.
When & where: 1:00 am, March 14 @ Russian House
One Shot: 'Agua De Coco'
This would be oh so fun to see live. I'm picturing already exhausted SXSW attendees giving up all pretences of remaining cool and jumping around in a sweaty mess during Papachina's 1:00 am set. The band seems to have eight members and there's something about lots of people being on stage that just makes for a good time. I have no idea what they're singing as my Spanish is non-existent but it's interesting how a language that you can't understand often aesthetically adds to the musical experience.
Marta Pereira Da Costa
When & where: 9:00 pm, March 13 @ Victorian Room at the Driskill
One Shot: 'Encontro' ft. Richard Bona
A shimmering showcase of in the pocket professionalism, this track exudes an expert understanding of how to put a song together. From the opening mbira notes, you can tell you're in for a treat. Horns, bass, piano, percussion, voice and of course the guitar (which is the main event) do exactly what they need to do to compliment each other here and I can only imagine that this will be one of the classier showcases at SXSW 2019.
When & where: 8:25 pm, March 16 @ Flamingo Cantina
One Shot: 'Party Thoughts'
The first thought I had was that this kind of sounds like Jay-Z & Kanye's 'Who Gon Stop Me'. There's a hunger throughout the track that undeniably draws you in. Kadesh's quick flows overtop the heavy, synth-filled beat create an interesting push and pull dynamic between the vocals and instrumentals that propels the track forward. And the female singer on the hook has a real sense of urgency that adds to the unusually epic feel of a song called 'Party Thoughts'.
When & where: 7:00 pm, March 14 @ BD Riley's
One Shot: 'Mental Karate'
This song is a bit like a sonic slap in the face. Whether it's a playful one or an affront to the respect you deserve is up to you. 'Mental Karate' borders on novelty music, which I've never been particularly partial too, but I think there's enough musicality here, including a pretty killer, almost Sleigh Bells level distorted guitar riff, to keep it on the acceptable side of things. It would unquestionably be fun to see live.
I'm Glad It's You
When & where: 9:45 pm, March 12 @ 720 Club Patio
One Shot: 'Curbside'
Starting off sparely with good old reverb-ed guitar and singer-songwriter confessional lyricism à la Galaxie 500, you think you know where this song is going until the full band comes in out of nowhere and knocks you over. It's a classic approach, but very well executed. There's an authentic sense of emotion in this indie rock track that isn't easy to pull off, especially in the hip-hop heavy era we're in now. If you think there aren't enough guitars in music these days this one's for you.
French For Rabbits
When & where: 8:00 pm, March 13 @ Friends + 11:00 pm, March 16 @ 18th Over Austin
One Shot: 'Highest Hill'
Delicate and dreamy, 'Highest Hill' is put together well, blending indie and electronic sounds. A bit over three minutes, this track feels like a vibe that enters your life, floats along with you, and then moves on. It could be twice as long and I wouldn't complain. And the group's ability to create such an aptly constructed song makes me think they can also probably put on a pretty tight show.
When & where: 10:05 pm, March 14 @ The Main II
One Shot: 'Rackz' ft. A1
Trap. You heard it before? I've been trying to avoid talking about the videos in this piece and judge each song solely on how they sound, but I think this video showcases how played out everything about 'Rackz' is. Money, hoes, jewellery, yawn. I mean, it's not a bad song. Production-wise it's dialled into what's on the charts these days, it's just I feel like I've heard this song a hundred times already. There's nothing fresh here. I bet it'd be good live, but I think I'm going to take 4GAuto's advice when he raps "I got these rackz OK / Don't mind me".
When & where: 8:00 pm, March 15 @ Bungalow + 11:00 pm, March 16 @ Seven Grand
One Shot: 'I'm Tied, To You'
Showing up on the more sinister side of house music, 'I'm Tied, To You' is an engaging, late night offering. The track feels like you're trying to make your way through a dark club, searching for someone in particular while each flash of the lights from the stage reveals a surreal scene you don't really feel a part of. Laid back and intense at the same time, I think this could translate well in a live setting.
SXSW 2019's Music Festival takes place 11-17 March throughout Austin, Texas. Find more info on our SXSW 2019 guide.