Wednesday , July 6 2022
Little Quirks at SXSW Music Festival 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)
Little Quirks at SXSW Music Festival 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)

SXSW Music Festival 2022: Friday-Saturday, March 18-19

Looking back on South by Southwest this past March, I still can’t believe it actually happened. It was only two months earlier when the Omicron variant ravaged the United States with over one million new COVID-19 cases in a single day. It was incredible.

I expected SXSW to be a late cancellation just like it was in 2020. But SXSW wasn’t canceled and the show went on. And similar to years past, the festival began to hit its stride on Friday, which always becomes the start to an unofficial three-day weekend in Austin, Texas – Sunday counting as a day of rest.

Unfortunately for me, I truly felt my age on Friday and thus tried to take it easy, which is hard to do believing I might miss out on my new favorite band if I skip one. I strive for a 50-50 balance of bands I know and don’t know, occasionally staying in a particular venue I like in order to catch part of the next act.

This actually happened to me on Saturday when I stayed at the Drafting Room after catching a great set by the Asheville, North Carolina shoegaze duo Day & Dream – please take a listen to their ode to dogs “Separation Anxiety” from their sophomore album, The Art of Remembering. I don’t remember why I stayed, but the alt-pop duo Flora & Fawna that followed was an unexpected delight. “Slow Burn” was a favorite from the Austin natives. Good beats, good energy, and a very energetic lead vocalist Lili Hickman. Honestly, Hickman had the crowd loving her after she proclaimed, “I gained weight ’cause of COVID, but I’m still hot as f*ck.” Rattling off a few keywords from song titles and lyrics such as toys, panini, love, costumes, and cocaine, doesn’t that scream,”I can’t wait to stream?”

Flora & Fawna at SXSW Music Festival 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)

I actually had a few of these moments. I wandered to the Flatstock Stage and saw Barcelona singer-songwriter Marta Knight. She had that catchy blend of bedroom pop (“Strange Times Forever”) and surf rock (“Resurrection”). I hung out at the Surf House for free food and caught an energetic set from Kansas City hip-hop/pop/indie rock band Blackstarkids, who shamelessly plugged the event’s sponsor White Claw whenever possible – no one complained and I definitely enjoyed the sarcasm. And when my night was slowing, I waltzed into Velveeta and enjoyed a lovely show from Oakland bedroom pop trio Sour Widows that featured songs from their recent Crossing Over EP (“Bedroom Stall” is a good one).

My Friday and Saturday featured a healthy amount of indie pop and folk rock, like singer-songwriter Stella Sommer (“San Francisco”), Swedish trio ViVii (“Savant”), Aussie trio Little Quirks (“Crumbled”), and British quartet Yard Act (“Fixer Upper”). Not all was peachy though. Please let the record show how bummed I was to have been turned away multiple times from seeing indie rock duo Wet Leg, including at the Radio Day Stage.

Irish indie rock band Pillow Queens lifted my spirits. The all-female quartet was charismatic, engaging, and very thrilled to start their first stateside tour at SXSW. One thing they all remembered to liberally apply here was “sun cream” – it was cute. They devoted much of the set to showcasing songs from their now-released sophomore album, Leave the Light On (Highlights: “Be By Your Side” and “Historian”). I still have a soft spot for “Liffey” and “HowDoILook” from their 2020 debut, In Waiting.

It was great to be in Austin after a two-year hiatus. SXSW, mon amour.

[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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