Local Spins writer Ricky Olmos ventured into the giant South by Southwest fest for the first time this year. Here are his highlights, plus images by photographer Anna Sink of some of her favorite SXSW sets.
As a first-time attendee of South by Southwest, it’s hard not to be smitten by the abounding creative energy flowing throughout the city. For an entire week and more, Austin transforms into an epicenter for creative professionals.
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Music of all kinds takes over in various fashions – on street corners, in bars, music clubs, even on the parking garage at Whole Foods. As you can imagine, my attention was diverted and pulled in many musical directions every minute.
Even still, here’s the Top Five shows that caught my eye (and ears) at SXSW 2018:
1. Shakey Graves at Antone’s – Austin’s son, Shakey Graves, had a busy South by Southwest, playing a number of shows, secret showcases and even a workshop session. The engaging artist gave a memorable performance at a legendary venue, Antone’s. From dreamy new, full-band songs to solo songs performed with his signature suitcase drum, Shakey Graves gave what was easily one of the festival’s best performances.
2. Small Houses w/ Mark Lavengood, Seth Bernard, Gregory Stovepipe and David Ramirez at Cheer Up – In true collaborative fashion, Austin band Small Houses, fronted by Michigan native Jeremy Quentin, featured a backing band that included Mark Lavengood, Seth Bernard and Gregory Stovetop, as well as songwriter David Ramirez on bass. What ensued was a riveting set at Cheer Up’s outdoor stage at dusk. Folky refrains, smoldering instrumentals and all out rock-worthy anthems.
3. The Accidentals @ 18th Over Austin – Traverse City phenoms The Accidentals soared high musically and locationaly with their set on the 18th floor of The Hilton Garden Inn overlooking Austin’s sparkling downtown skyline. The collective of musicians was full of energy and spirit as they rolled out a set of pop-sensible tunes for an enthralled audience.
4. Greyhounds @ Swan Dive – Stepping into Swan Dive during Greyhounds’ SXSW showcase might as well have been the equivalent of stepping back in time. Dripping with Motown soul and R&B nods, the Austin group grooved into the night with its timeless songs and charismatic charm.
5. Michigan House Showcase & Stay Gold – Electricity lingered in the air during the Michigan Showcase at Stay Gold, the finale for Michigan House, a pop-up venue in its fourth year at SXSW. With a plethora of performers and a crowded venue of attendees, listeners were treated to one captivating set after another, including Major Murphy, Lady Ave Boogie, Lavengood, Bernard & Stovetop, Vespre and many others.
SXSW 2018 photos by Anna Sink (including In the Valley Below, The Violin Monster, Benjamin Booker, Shakey Graves, Billy Strings, The Outer Vibe)
Check out more coverage, photos and videos of Michigan bands at SXSW at Local Spins here.
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