Thursday , May 23 2024
Virginie B at SXSW 2023 (Photo: Tan The Man)
Virginie B at SXSW 2023

2023 SXSW Music Festival: Monday, March 13 (Austin, TX)

Another year, another week of great live music at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. I’m still trying to get used to the idea of the 2023 SXSW Music Festival officially starting on a Monday, but I’m sure it’ll eventually feel like normal.

The Tech Conference already started, and it feels like someone (or a financial institution named Silicon Valley Bank) let the air out of the balloon over the weekend. Not sure how else to explain the notably fewer people walking about on a sunny and cool Monday afternoon.

But I’ll stick to a “This is not my problem right now” attitude and just listen to the sounds rumbling out of the bars, ignore the unpleasant smells, and mind the line to the bathroom. It’ll all be okay.

Amber Arcades at SXSW 2023 (Photo: Tan The Man)
Amber Arcades at SXSW 2023

My lazy start to the 2023 SXSW Music Festival was spent trying to regain my bearings. A bit has changed in Downtown Austin since I was last here. There’s a new festival layout. The registration lounge is no longer in Brush Square. New buildings have been erected. Former buildings have been torn down. St. David’s Sanctuary is not a venue this year. No more Container Bar. Red River Cultural District feels like its own mini world tucked between new apartment buildings and hotels; however, I’m glad to report it still feels like a trek to get there.

Things change, I guess.

2023 SXSW Music Performance Highlights: Monday, March 13

Virginie B mixed in sexy and soulful throughout her set at Swan Dive’s patio stage. The Montreal-based singer-songwriter asked for someone in the audience to be her muse for a song. Generally, there’s not too much audience participation in these types of requests, but I was stunned when a photographer immediately raised his hand and volunteered himself. He didn’t get on stage, but she did serenade him during the chorus.

Detroit native Stereo Jane returned to SXSW with their pop beats at Half Step. Vocalist Sydney Schmier mentioned this was her first show without twin sister Mia, who was traded for a drummer named Ralph (or Raphael). It was a pleasant mix of upbeat and soul, including “Animal” and “Something to Talk About.” Schmier told a story about ingesting shrooms before writing the addictive anthem, “All My Friends.”

Experimental pop musician Amber Arcades (Annelotte de Graaf) performed a truncated set at Wax Myrtle’s for the New Dutch Wave showcase. De Graaf didn’t seem fazed by the 20-minute delay and started off strong with her big hit, “It Changes.” Her set mostly featured songs from her new album, Barefoot on Diamond Road, but ultimately it had to be cut short by one song.

poolblood at SXSW 2023 (Photo: Tan The Man)
poolblood at SXSW 2023

Afterwards, I headed to The 13th Floor to catch Portland-based pop duo foamboy (producer Wil Bakula and vocalist Katy Ohsiek). I don’t think I saw Ohsiek stop smiling at any point in the entire set – which was abounded with enthusiasm. Slow and sexy were the main themes. Definitely give a listen to “Better” and “Not a Go.”

I ended my night at Swan Dive with a performance by Toronto singer-songwriter poolblood (Maryam Said), whose bedroom pop hit the right notes. I’m not sure their cover of Shania Twain’s “Still the One” was the most appropriate set finale, but it was still a pleasant rendition.

And off to bed I go.

[Photos via Tan The Man]

About Tan The Man

Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music. He has previously covered events like Noise Pop, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest, TBD Festival, and Wizard World Comic Con.

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