Austinites are used to festivals, to say the least. But even during a festival it’s rare to find so many cultures in one place — not just worldwide talent in one genre as one might see at an EDM festival, but a mind numbing smörgåsbord (that’s Swedish) of different cultural takes in infinite forms.
During South by Southwest (SXSW), there are plenty of opportunities to check out local acts, but if you want to get worldly, check out these chic (French) visitors and learn a little about what’s going on away from home.
Even if you prefer to kvetch (Yiddish) about the crowds and wristband prices, this list prioritizes things to stream from home or visit after the festival is over...so you can hunker down (Scots) at home in your pajamas (Urdu) for now.
March 16 @ Swan Dive
Our neighbors to the north may not seem exotic, but singer-songwriter Begonia’s vocals are out of this world. Fans of Adele will love this soulful alto’s songsmithing, smoothly covering a wide vocal and intense emotional range, although her instrumental arrangements are less retro.
Haiti: Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones) "sensorial film""sensorial film"
March 11, 14, 16 @ Violet Crown
This stunning art film combines images of "dancers, musicians, fishermen, daredevil rollerbladers, and Vodou priests" with poetry and music to capture the spirit of Haiti. The film's composer, Joseph Ray, makes trancy house music and played a free set after the international premier.
South America: Southamericano Day Showcase
March 18 @ Sahara Lounge
Austin's top year-round Afro-Latino spot is (unoffically) gathering some South American fun including some Austin performers: Alex Cósmico of Colombia kicks it off with some coffeehouse vibes, and the Brazilian-led Frederico7 y Los Primes follow with psychedelic jams.
Italy: Ciao SXSW! The Italian showcase
March 16 @ The Stay Put
Italian music isn’t exactly big outside of the concert hall, but Eurovision winners Måneskin put the country in a new spotlight. This diverse lineup features Italian exports from Venezeula (Arya) and California (Baseball Gregg), plus “psychsexrock” (Big Mountain County) and more.
Holland: The Water Arch installation
March 12-15 @ Austin Convention Center, Booth 1527
This gigantic installation is likely the largest musical instrument at SXSW: it takes (abstract) inspiration from a Dutch barrel organ — imagine a portable circus organ — and collects water while playing: 36 gallons to represent what a Dutch person uses in a day, and 82 for Americans.
South Asia: South Asian House
March 11-12 @ Fourth & Co
Houses are important in the structure of SXSW, allowing programming to go beyond one label or PR company, and giving visitors an idea of what to expect. The first-ever South Asian house introduced Ausitnites to Sway With Pray, a Bollywood dance studio in Austin that offers classes.
South Africa and Romania: Who I Am Not documentary film
March 11, 12, and 16 @ Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar
A Romanian director follows the journeys of two intersex South Africans blazing a path through a cisnormative world. Born with both male and female sex characteristics, they explore the issues of gender, dating without the biological ability to have kids, and more.
Mali: Orchestra Gold
March 16-18 @ Güero's Taco Bar, Waterloo Records, Shiner's Saloon, Hotel Vegas
Psych rock is basically the name of the game this SXSW (hey, they know what Austin likes). One visiting group takes a different approach than most locals are used to hearing, in an Afrobeat style that produces more upbeat jams to accompany the Bambara language lyrics.
March 15, 16, 18 @ Lucille and Valhalla
One band visiting calls its genre “Australiana,” mostly for the lead vocalist’s distinguishable accent. This semi-deadpan group embodies some of the frankness of Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and the darker, bass-driven tones of 80s new wave bands.