Five acts that rocked South by Southwest – Glass reviews SXSW

SINCE launching as a local music festival back in 1987, Austin’s annual South by South West has evolved into a cultural titan, with more than 2,000 acts appearing across the city’s venues as well as equally huge film and interactive-tech schedules. With a deserved reputation as the number one place to spot emerging talent the city swarms with A&R teams and festival bookers while roadies lug drum kits and equipment from bar to bar to backyard barbecue in the hot Texan sun. As this year’s event comes to a close here’s our take on the new acts that shone the brightest.


Sunflower BeanSunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean
This New York trio were one of the hardest working bands at this year’s event with a neverending series of showcases, radio appearances and secret performances across Austin. Heavy in psychedelic reverb and with no shortage of charm, their sets – featuring recent singles Wall Watcher and Easier Said – gave a memorable flavour of one of 2016’s most exciting breakthrough guitar bands.

andersonpaakAnderson Paak

Anderson Paak
An undoubted star of SXSW, California’s Anderson Paak’s soulful take on hip-hop has been amassing fans and critical acclaim in recent years but the release of January’s Malibu album has seen his stock really soar. And his electric live show at the Hype Hotel that saw him rip though material old and new (between energetic drum solos and Bowie segues) will do him no harm at all.

methyl ethelMethyl Ethel

Methyl Ethel
Australian trio Methyl Ethel arrived at SXSW in support of debut album Oh Inhuman Spectacle, due out on 4AD in May, and won over a global audience with a low-fi sound and frontman Jake Webb’s magnetic presence. Further evidence of Perth’s vibrant music scene, Methyl Ethel’s ear for a killer hook – just hear ‘Twilight Driving’ for evidence – helped them stand out among SXSW’s abundant indie acts.


South London grime star Stormzy was one of a strong contingent heading out to SXSW – also featuring Little Simz and Elf Kid – to show the US (and the world) the best of a genre that’s become the dominant form of urban music back in the UK. And playing an exhausting run of shows, including a prime spot on the BBC’s Introducing stage at Stubb’s, Stormzy’s high-energy performance and semantic dexterity are sure to see a new wave of fans converted.


Perfectly pitched during a hot Texan afternoon, British breakthrough act Haelo’s blissed-out set at the San Jose hotel in South Congress was one of a run of gigs they performed during SXSW. Their knack for synth-heavy hooks, trip-hop inspired percussion and Lotti Benardout’s laid-back vocals are tailor-made for summer, meaning their recently released debut album has been timed to perfection.

by Ben Olsen

Photographs: Jabari Jacobs