In the traditional attempt to find a new approach to reviewing sxsw, here’s an artist-by artist list of everyone we saw, in chronological order.
QUIET LIFE (Patagonia)
This was within 45 minutes of landing at Austin Bergstrom airport. Quiet Life, from Portland, Oregon, entertained a range of families in a clothes shop. Only in Austin …
SONS OF BILL (Red 7)
A typical Red River dive. Over the road, a huge queue was trying to get in to see local hero Gary Clark Jnr – and this was before the festival had even officially started. SOB’s good songs were slightly blighted by a disinterested audience.
LAURA MARLING (Convention Center)
Major artists do little twenty minute shows for the media during the day in the plush Convention Center. It’s always hard to generate any atmosphere here but even taking that into account, this was a weak performance, characterised by mistakes and fluffs and a piss-poor band. What do people see in her?
AMERICAN AQUARIUM (Dogwood)
A slightly sub Springsteen performance by a hot new band from North Carolina. I spent most of the time trying to find some shade from the blazing sun.
FRANK TURNER (Cedar Street Courtyard)
I have a problem in that I am supposed to worship Frank Turner just like everyone else does. Of course I want to be proud that he allegedly comes from Winchester, but I just loathe his shouty-strummy style and I am ambivalent about his background, especially now I’ve read his autobiography. But in fairness, I thought I should give him another go. A mistake. One of the best venues in Austin, though.
MILKY CHANCE (Cedar Door)
Not the sort of band I normally would go and see – German hip-hop. But they were great and we benefited from loads of promotional freebies – I walked away with eleven pairs of sunglasses.
THE CRIBS (Clive Bar)
This involved a long walk, but I had a hankering for some nice melodic post-Ash power pop. Why bands like The Cribs bother to come to events like this I’m not sure, but I’m glad they do.
THE LOST BROTHERS (Capital Cruises)
No sxsw would be complete without a river cruise, and this one featured this friendly Irish duo and also Will Sexton (brother of Charlie). Great way to spend breakfast.
SUZY BOGGUSS (Broken Spoke)
Would never miss the annual Twangfest, held in Austin’s most iconic venue. Straight country to two-step to.
AMY SPEACE (Broken Spoke)
She and her band had literally just arrived in Austin and were just getting going.
CHUCK PROPHET AND THE MISSION EXPRESS (Broken Spoke)
They just tore the place apart. This was the beginning of the slippery slope that led to us following Chuck around rather than actually reporting on other acts. They were so ridiculously good, it was impossible to resist.
JOSH SAVAGE (Driskill Hotel)
Now here’s a guy from Winchester I don’t mind bigging up. Young singer Josh acquitted himself admirably in the poshest of venues.
SKINNY LISTER (Lamberts)
I literally stuck a pin in the schedule and spotted a band name I recognised. Hugely impressed by their wildly uninhibited energy. And they’re British!
CHUCK PROPHET AND THE MISSION EXPRESS(Continental Club)
This was actually the least impressive Chuck show, because it was the official showcase and far too loud. However, the unexpected appearance of iconic rapper Bushwick Bill livened up proceedings.
BRONCHO (Hotel San José)
The heavy rain drove us to spend the whole afternoon here. It was a good decision. This was some New Orderish post-punk from Oklahoma.
HOUNDMOUTH (Hotel San José)
Had been hoping to see this stylish band and up they popped. They were on Letterman a week later.
THE ZOMBIES (Hotel San José)
Yes, you read that right. Sixties legends (especially in the States) sparked mass adulation in the drizzle. Who’d have thought that the best voice of sxsw 2015 would be Colin Blunstone? Totally fabulous singalong session.
SONS OF BILL (Lucky Lounge)
Thisis a super cool band but again, they suffered from a rowdy audience. One girl fell unconscious from her stool and crashed into me.
ANDREW COMBS (Lucky Lounge)
How sad that Ian McLagan wasn’t here to do his traditional Lucky Lounge shows. Andrew was fine but it’s a strangely laid-out venue and I was glad to see him properly the next day.
CHUCK PROPHET AND THEMISSION EXPRESS (Brooklyn Cantina)
Absolutely storming. Despite the cold and the rain and even a dud PA, they produced one of the most exciting shows I’ve ever seen. And you know, I’ve seen a lot.
DANIEL ROMANO (Brooklyn Cantina)
Laconic country stylings on the front porch of the same venue. They did cactus tacos and luscious beer there.
THE MASTERSONS (Brooklyn Cantina)
Officially the hardest-working duo of sxsw 2015, they are always cheerful and never flag.
DADDY LONGLEGS (Brooklyn Cantina)
If you have been missing the Legendary Shack*Shakers (I have), these are the guys for you.
ANDREW COMBS (Brooklyn Cantina)
This guy has a big future. I’m going to try and book him.
CHUCK PROPHET AND THEMISSION EXPRESS (Brooklyn Cantina)
I know it’s ridiculous, but we simply hailed an Uber cab and followed them!
ELLIOTT BROOD (Swan Dive)
Always lovely to met up with our friends from the great Canadian label Six Shooter. Although the Brood are strictly speaking now on another label, they were guesting here. Shall we say, a certain amount of alcohol was consumed.
WHITEHORSE (Swan Dive)
Finished this year’s sxsw with the ever-excellent Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland in their new electronic format, which is deservedly making them stars.
Of course, we also saw probably twenty more bands whose names we didn’t catch (for example, several more on the boat trip). The next day was spent on a swing on someone’s front porch in the sunshine. And then I flew home. I always say it, but this REALLY was the best one ever – mainly thanks to Chuck.