News Beautiful South: A Guide To SXSW 2014

If there’s one piece of advice to follow during SXSW Festival, it’s “follow the smell of tacos.’ A ticket out to Austin, Texas might cost stupid amounts. Then there’s the hotels, the wet wipes, the price of losing your dignity. But take a few tips and you can feasibly enjoy the entire week spending very little at all. Free drinks, free Mexican food, free music. Most of the time you’ll require a pass, but unofficial showcases are open to everyone. Go nuts.

Chances are if an excellent band are playing SXSW, they won’t just be doing the one show. DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith infamously posted last year about the perils of playing showcase after showcase last year for little to no gain. Yes, it’s exhausting for a lot of bands. But on the other hand, they’ll be playing interesting venues, cool DIY spaces and nooks and crannies in this gigantic city 7-dayer. Most musicians and punters are having a great time.

Ahead of the 10th-17th showcases, we’ve picked out essential events, some official, some all access to absolutely anybody.

NPR Music Presents:
Perfect Pussy, Eagulls, Kelis, St. Vincent, Damon Albarn (Details)
12th March, Stubb’s

Undoubtedly the show-stealer of showcases, there are more big names here than in the Ellen Degeneres Oscar’s selfie. South By is mostly about finding new bands and boasting in an ‘I was there’ tone, but where else can you stick around in one place and spot St. Vincent, Kelis and Damon Albarn in the space of two to three hours? It’s a great slot for two of SXSW’s most eagerly-watched bands, too. Perfect Pussy arrive on the brink of their debut album release and Leeds’ Eagulls build on this year’s Letterman slot by wowing US audiences once more.

Official 4AD Showcase
WYNN, Empress Of, bEEdEEgEE, Merchandise, SOHN, Future Islands (Details)
13th March, Cheer Up Charlie’s

With countless labels hitching up at South By, 4AD’s showcase might be the most intriguing. Future Islands are enjoying post-Letterman momentum. Their performance of ‘Seasons (Waiting For You)’ has practically turned into an internet meme, and their ‘Singles’ LP is the sound of a prolific band finally being broadcast to a huge audience. Lorely Rodriguez aka Empress Of is another fine addition, with Vienna-based producer SOHN on the brink of releasing of the best debut albums of the year. Merchandise - 4AD’s most recent signing - complete the bill alongside Gang Gang Dance-member bEEdEEgEE and opener WYNN.

Portals Travelling Showcase
Saint Pepsi, Empress Of, Tink, Clipping., Pure Bathing Culture, Hundred Waters, Beat Culture, Julie Byrne, Future Death (Details)
14th March, The Owl

Set in the fascinating DIY space of The Owl, Portals’ showcase is a standout for anyone minus a wristband that’s just keen to check out a brilliant, disparate selection of acts. There’s the forward-thinking, genre-bending hip hop of Clipping., the delicate fizzing pop of Hundred Waters and the combination of fledging producers Beat Culture and Saint Pepsi.

Official: Cruel Rhythm @ Hype Hotel
Tourist, SZA, Jungle, Tensnake, Cyril Hahn, Kelis (Details)
14th March, Hype Hotel

As is always the case at SXSW, the Hype Machine Hotel is a mainstay of the festival, somewhere to spot half a dozen exciting new acts in any given day. UK blog Cruel Rhythm hosts arguably the standout showcase, bringing together Swiss producer Cyril Hahn and London representative Tourist. Oh, and the small matter of XL signings Jungle and the ‘Food’-obsessed Kelis. No big deal.

Neon Gold Showcase
GGFO, Tove Lo, WET, HEARTS, Magic Man, MØ, Miami Horror(Details)
15th March, Empire Control Room & Garage

Major label hopes are crammed into the Empire Control Room & Garage for NYC blog-turned-tastemaker Neon Gold’s official showcase. There’s Brooklyn group HAERTS (a highlight from SXSW 2013, returning ahead of the release of their debut album), Danish superstar and recent Neu-featured trio WET. Stockholm’s Tove Lo is another standout, her ‘Not On Drugs’ single being an early 2014 highlight.

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