Search The Line of Best Fit
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SXSW 2013: The 10 Best Things We Saw

SXSW 2013: The 10 Best Things We Saw

26 March 2013, 14:50

Photograph by Tonje Thilesen

A trip to Austin’s infamous South By Southwest festival is not complete without experiencing a set of extreme emotions – from the disappointment of missing a set or not getting into your party of choice, to the joy of catching surprise guest performances, nabbing the free swag you actually want and the IRL hangs with online pals. Of course, it’s also not complete without seeing a mega ton of new music and ultimately that’s what we’re here for. Without a badge around our neck we explore SXSW unofficial style and manage to catch a host of incredible acts, breaking and established. So here are our top picks from last week’s rambling festivities.

Empress Of

For reasons still unknown to modern man, Wednesday’s party itinerary happens to be the most stacked day of SXSW this year. With amazing line-ups and events spanning Austin’s dusty concrete plains, we manage to take in a good mix of it all without feeling like we’ve just run a marathon without proper training (not recommended). While we down as many coconut waters as we can to avoid the impending hangover, we’re treated to a performance by Brooklyn’s Empress Of. Recently signed to Double Demin and having played their first show ever only last October, singer Lorely Rodriguez garners a sweetly earnest performance that’s captivating in such a pleasantly surprising way. Delicate harmonies looped on-the-fly dance across wailing synths and sexy guitar riffs, as the crowd sways along to her words. In any other circumstance this setup might come across as lacklustre but Lorely’s innocent charm and earthly vocals marry all of the pieces of this live set together wonderfully.

Zebra Katz

Part of our week, which was not in the slightest bit planned, includes attendance at more than a few hip-hop shows. With artists ranging from Action Bronson (with special guests Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Danny Brown, Riff Raff and Hit Boys) at the open-bar Viceland Party to the accidental amazing experience that is the Zebra Katz show at House of Blues.

Rapper Ojay Morgan (who has already toured with Azealia Banks) aka Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx have an onstage chemistry that makes us feel like we’re on the set of some big budget music video, watching the behind the scenes magic take place. The pair literally transform the daytime, makeshift venue into their own dark and playful world of hip hop: swinging on cables, rolling on the ground, and at one point getting the entire crowd jumping and chanting “I’ma take that bitch to college, I’ma give that bitch some knowledge” from Zebra Katz’ single ‘I’ma Read’. It’s 3pm in the afternoon.

The Hype Hotel – which has less of a first-year-at-University feel this year – seems more like a modern art gallery space, except the art is the glowing (and free) Tito’s Vodka, Monster Energy drinks and the ability of otherwise self-respecting showgoers to consume aggressive amounts of Taco Bell products in one sitting.

Hype also includes free massages, an interactive photo booth, a massive light, a sound system and of course killer line-ups curated by music sites every day and night of the festival. We catch great performances by St. Lucia, MØ and !!!, all three offering equally polished and extremely magnetic sets that deepen our love affair with them. MØ almost makes us shed a tear (which we didn’t know was still possible) with her sheer uninhibited passion and stage presence.

St. Lucia

New York’s St. Lucia has packed the large venue space for a 2pm show, filling the room with a warm, magnetic energy. South African born singer, Jean-Philip Grobler and his band’s charming, polished mix of percussion shakes, pulsing synths, heartfelt falsettos and slightly worldly feel have garnered all of our attention, and we’re getting nervous; we think we’re falling in love. It’s a giddy kind of polished sound, with a love ballad quality that is just so irresistible. As Jean-Phillip claps his hands together and motions for the crowd to follow, we look around and the entire place is fixated, hands clapping above their heads and taking part in this communal lean towards the stage, just to feel that much closer. It’s a pretty magical moment.

Ryan Hemsworth

Live For The Funk are holding a party that includes free booze and Cashmere Cat, so naturally we make sure we’re there. The Norwegian producer with battle-champion beginnings is an explosive ball of energy, mixing tracks from his debut EP Mirror Miru, with current favourites that drive the crowd absolutely insane.

Ensuring the drops are huge and the vibe continues to build, Cashmere Cat warms up the crowd for a hilarious and charismatic Ryan Hemsworth, who takes the stage next. He drops new edits of his own tracks, unreleased bangers from producers-to-watch, and all kinds of on-the-fly remixes that make it feel like the roof of host venue the Joie de Vive hair salon, might blow off at any minute. Hemsworth proves once again why he’s such a star in the producer game. Names to know in bass music – everyone from LuckyMe Records labelheads, to Dubstep pioneers Skream and Mala – can be seen casually hanging out, just taking it all in.



Throwing their party on two stages at the indoor/outdoor venue, Holy Mountain (formerly Beauty Bar), the space plays host to several of Ghostly’s emerging stars – which is refreshing considering most of the shows at SXSW this year boast acts already signed to major labels. Kendrick Lamar is no longer considered an emerging act; he has passed go and collected much more than $200…which is probably what the acts that played Ghostly’s fantastic showcase are getting paid.

Stand out acts include Baths, Best Fit favourite Seams, Lusine and particularly Dauwd. The deep house producer with mainstream appeal pulls in the crowd with his aural glow of muted humming bass, pitter-patter rhythms and pitched breathy cries. Yet Dauwd’s true talent is flooding the room with a sexy feeling that you just can’t ignore.

Dan Croll

At the ASOS Music Lounge, we arrive feeling like every person at the party was just a little too hot to be at SXSW, we decide some sun would do us some good – plus we’re starving. We pass the ping-pong tables and DJ booth to the lower level of the party, with a stage for performances, a partially-covered area with couches, a taco stand serving up free deliciousness and, of course, another bar awaits. After our third Smoked Ruby Grapefruit Don Julio drink we post up on a couch to catch Dan Croll, Ghost Beach and Angel Haze.

Liverpool’s Dan Croll and band take the stage shortly after we sit down, and despite the sun’s bright shine peaking just above us, a young and brooding Dan Croll manages to come off soothing and heartfelt as soon as his lips hit the microphone. His words are so sweet and tender. He digs into the lyrics of his single, ‘Marion’, and we swear we can hear every girl in the crowd simultaneously exhale a high shrilled, ‘awwww!’. As we sway along to a sound we find hard to put our finger on, we can’t help but think Dan’s recordings don’t do him justice at all. Dan Croll live is earnest and heartwarming, with this worldly, pop sound that’s so much more infectious than we ever expected.

As his guitar begins to strum the chords of, ‘From Nowhere’, Croll’s heart begins to bleed onto the stage in the form of drawn out love poems that have melted our limbs into a puddle of our former selves. We look around to see if anyone notices, and the entire crowd is fixated on the stage. Dan’s vintage twangs, that we wouldn’t exactly call folk, perhaps more of a mellow psychedelic feel in the vein of acts like Beirut mixed with this undeniable, old-time rock n’ roll influence that instantly reminds us of Austin’s own, Okkervil River, make our heart do these tiny flips inside our chests, as the full band chimes in for the chorus of ‘Home’. Complexing our comprehension even further, Croll brings in a slightly tropical feel with the help of vintage synths, flowy, larger-than-life harmonies, and breezy percussion serenading us through his new single ‘Compliment Your Soul’, which closes out his set on such a high note, that most of the crowd is still standing and just cheering as Dan and his band pack up and are quickly exiting the stage.

Wildcat! Wildcat!

We have been wanting to drop by the Haus of Hipstamatic all week, but being a quaint little chateau on the Eastside, the house is packed moments after opening every day at 11am. With a full spread of grilled breakfast delights, a coffee bar, cocktails and a great lineup of acts, it definitely is the place to be. We get in line just in time to catch Los Angeles indie pop group, Wildcat! Wildcat! and we are instantly so glad we are here. With body tingling harmonies and vocal arrangements that lies somewhere between Local Natives and Passion Pit, Wildcat! Wildcat! are definitely exciting to watch and have us up front singing along with their singles ‘Mr. Quiche’ and ‘End of the World Everyday’. We are loving this moment so much.


Leaving the Haus of Hip, we run to catch Danish/Russian singer Fallulah, getting there just as she begins her second song. We can’t help but think to ourselves, “Could there be a hotter mix of heritages?” The voluptuous songstress is performing like she was on a world tour for hundreds and thousands of adoring fans. She has this Lykke Li star quality about her; the way she is working the room, flirting with the crowd, hopping off the stage to belt out the words of her super catchy new single, ‘Out Of It’. Except Falluluh is no Lykke Li carbon copy, she’s this uninhibited, ball of energy story-teller. Through tambourine shakes, handclap sways and well, boobie shakes, Fallulah swirls around us, fully enveloped in her tale, and bringing us into the moment with her. Fallulah is now feeling more like a pop verison of Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells with her erratic cries and wild shakes as her backup singers chime in for the chorus of ‘Dried Out Cities’. We’re so glad we ended up here.


Deciding the line at the Boiler Room’s party wasn’t worth the wait considering we’d already seen most of those acts, and the thought of watching Death Grips malnutritioned Stefan Burnett barking on stage for an hour really isn’t how we wanted to spend our last night, we decide to do the right thing and go see some UK talent at the Numbers Official Showcase.

If you have been reading Best Fit religiously (as you should), you’ll know at this point how much we we love rising London producer SOPHIE. Recently signed to Numbers and WerkDiscs, his show was exactly what we’d hoped, with a mix of Bicep and TNGHT styles and techniques, both of which focus on building the crowd up and taking the climax and drops to new heights. Watching SOPHIE, we realize he’s a master at building anticipation while bringing a new type of dance energy- a much more universal vibe that we can’t help but be addicted to.

Stretching a plastic sheen of energetic fervor over static breaks and vintage sounding keyboard effects, infusing his shiny aesthetic with sexy female vocal loops and punches of work out inspired ‘huhs’, SOPHIE is getting this party started whether we’re ready or not. The crowd respond to SOPHIE’s new genre we’re calling, “Bubble and Squeak Bass” with lots of grinding, and sweaty dance moves they’d normally reserve for special occasions. OK, fine, we’re also doing that, but can you blame us? This is definitely one of the highlights of our SXSW. This energy and sheer creative genius blaring from Barcelona Bar’s not that great speakers is turning this party on it’s head. We can’t say anyone else is making dance music like this right now. All we can say is, we’re so glad we’re here right now. This is amazing.

We don’t think it’s possible to end a week of SXSW events in a better way. See you next year.

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