Starting out in 1986 as a platform for local artists, Austin’s South by Southwest festival is today the world’s largest arts festival of its type as well as one of the most important dates in the cultural calendar. This week, the 31st edition of the annual festival will begin with half a million people expected to flock to its home of Austin, Texas. Since its earliest days, the festival has built a reputation for catapulting artists to international acclaim, with acts ranging from The Strokes and John Mayer to Courtney Barnett and HAIM having benefited from the festival’s international stage.
Whether you’re lucky enough to make the trip yourself or will be watching at home via the festival’s live stream, AllSole suggests five things to keep an eye out for at this year’s SXSW festival.
Austin natives Spoon return to their homeland to hold a three-night residency at The Main at this year’s SXSW Music Festival. Coinciding with the launch of the band’s ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts, released on March 17 on Matador Records, Spoon will curate a unique line-up each night from this Tuesday through until the Thursday, with Spoon naturally headlining each night with an hour-long set.
Where? The Main (603 Red River St.)
When? Tuesday 14th March—Thursday 16th March
Image credit: Zackery Michael
Song To Song
SXSW will set this year’s event in motion with the World Premiere of celebrated director Terrence Malick’s Song To Song. Best known for films including The Thin Red Line and Badlands, Malick returns to his home of Austin to host the festival’s Opening Night Film, his ninth feature film. Described as “modern love story set against the Austin music scene, where two entangled couples … chase success through a rock’n’roll landscape of seduction and betrayal”, the film boasts a starry line-up including Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender and is one of the most highly anticipated events at this year’s festival.
Where? Paramount Theatre
When? Friday 10th March, 6.30pm
Headlining the Moody Theatre next Friday as part of the BMI and SAG-AFTRA showcase, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ryan Adams returns to Texas after having shared the bill with the Avett Brothers at last year’s JW Marriott ballroom show. The appearance will follow the release of his much-praised new album Prisoner which entered the Billboard charts in the top 10 on its release.
Where? Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theatre
When? Friday 17th March at 6.45pm
Due to hit screens on 30th April this year, the Starz TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel American Gods will also hold its World Premiere this Saturday at the festival. Directed by Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies) and starring the likes of Ricky Wittle and Gillian Anderson, the festival’s special screening with be followed by a Q&A session with the film’s cast and creative team.
Where? Vimeo Theatre
When? Saturday 11th March, 11am
Danish-born and Berlin-based songstress Agnes Obel returned with her third studio album in October 2016. The album took its title from the German concept of gläserner bürger, a legal term referring to mass surveillance practices. A “citizen of glass” is somebody whose personal and private information has become transparent and open thanks to surveillance and social media. Defined by Obel’s signature minimalist and often eerie sound, the album is largely thought of as her most ambitious and textured to date.
Obel is celebrated for her atmospheric, rousing live performances, and her South by Southwest debut is sure to draw her a new following on the other site of the Atlantic.
Where? Clive Bar
When? Thursday 16th March, 10pm
Images credit: SXSW. Header Image: Anderson .Paak at SXSW Music 2016 photo by Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW