SXSW 2016 Day 1: Photos and Recap

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SXSW 2016 Day 1: Photos and Recap

It’s that time of year—SXSW Music is officially underway, and the days of Tuesday being a relaxed day to sort of ease into the music portion of the festival are long gone. Check out images from Day 1 by Katie Chow in the gallery, and read about our favorite sets from Tuesday below. And of course, stay tuned for more SXSW coverage all this week.


I caught the last half of Hinds’ set at the Hype Hotel, but their no-frills three-part harmonies were echoing through the surrounding ‘hood when I walked up to the venue. Garage rock with a buoyant undertone, these Spanish up-and-comers made the cavernous makeshift venue feel like a house party—in a good way. Their sound may be unrefined, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the ride. —Dacey Orr


I caught the end of electronic duo AlunaGeorge’s set at the Spotify House on Tuesday, and I was in no way ready for it to end. Things got real dance-y for me, which is saying a lot considering my lower limbs were sore as hell from the day’s trekking. Aluna Francis’ childlike voice mixed with synthed R&B beats brings something new to the future pop table, and the group’s sets are purely energizing.—Emily McBride

DJ Jazzy Jeff

SXSW is always a fantastic place to stumble onto a great set you had no plans of sticking around for, and sometimes the set you stumble upon is by the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. He happened to be onstage at the Flood party when I arrived, and decades after getting repeatedly tossed out of mansions by Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he still can work a crowd like no other, mixing classics like Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson with contemporary favorites like Kendrick Lamar. A brief power outage cut his time short, but he made every second count.—Bonnie Stiernberg

My Bubba

Technically, I caught My Bubba for the first time on Wednesday, not Tuesday, but when you’re at a show before most of the SXSW population have even hit the snooze button—the band played at 6:30 a.m. for KGSR at the W Austin—you get to count it as whatever day you damn well please. The Scandinavian duo was worth the wake-up call, and while it was hard to see in the packed room, their voices floated out into the hallway with astonishing ease. “I can breathe again,” they sang, and their weightless melodies made it easy to feel that way, too. Minimal instrumentation allowed the duo (Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir (Bubba) and My Larsdotter)’s voices to shine, the sparing harmonies hinted at the bands capability for more forceful sound. They got bonus points for kindness, too—once their set in the at-capacity conference room was over, the played for the not-so-lucky folks stuck in line outside.—Dacey Orr

Vince Staples

Vince Staples slayed us last night at the Spotify House. Rolling Stone lauded him last year as the most exciting man in rap, and I’m fully on board with that title. Staples is a born performer, and watching him is nothing short of mesmerizing. There’s no pretense to his show, and he’s such a refreshing blast of fresh air to the hip-hop world. This is definitely one to see this year. The best part of his set though? When he called out Spotify while standing on their own stage for their absurdly low per stream rates. Preach.—Emily McBride


Australian singer Cloves is certainly an act I’d like to catch again this week. With just a guitar to accompany her, the 20-year-old’s complex vocals were plenty to fill the spotlight. For a young musician, she’s not short on experience, and it shows. “You started singing in bars in Australia at what, 13?” “I think it was 12,” she told her interviewer on stage. Her soulful sound set the stage for relatable lyrics—”I could be your friend, but that’s not what you want to hear”—and the two songs I got to catch weren’t nearly enough. -—Dacey Orr


Seeing jazz at SXSW is always a toss-up—will the crowd consist of random people unaware of what to expect, or will dedicated fans turn out? The latter was certainly the case at BADBADNOTGOOD’s Tuesday night set. Diehards were already snapping photos and geeking out during their soundcheck, and once they actually started playing (even debuting a few new, excellent songs from their upcoming album), everyone was hanging on the Toronto band’s every note. And when they brought out pal Ghostface Killah for two songs to wrap things up? Forget about it. The perfect ending to an extremely strong set.—Bonnie Stiernberg

Jamestown Revival

I got acquainted with Austin natives Jamestown Revival this time last year, catching a few sets of their polished Americana and catching up with the duo outside the Paste bungalow. The band of brothers is still at it, although with a slightly different tune: for their first number, they led in with a bluesy baseline to a never-been-performed-for-an-audience new song that felt like a departure from their rootsier, country-leaning previous material. If this more soulful sound is what’s next from these guys, I can’t wait to hear more—they say “come hell or high water,” there will be a new record in 2016.—Dacey Orr

Valley Queen

Guys, this band blew my face off. The LA-based four-piece is a little bit grassroots, a little bit Motown and pure, beautiful rock ‘n’ roll. I braved the treachery of 6th Street last night to catch their set upstairs at the Lit Lounge, an ominously clubby lounge with laser lights and a smoke machine (not to mention a painful cover band) downstairs. The band defied their club surroundings the minute they strapped into their hollow body guitars and frontwoman Natalie Carol began wailing. With a voice at one moment trembling and gentle and the next powerful and guttural, Carol and her bandmates bring a sound that packs a hard punch to the ears. Look out for these guys.—Emily McBride