SXSW: Under the radar. Discover something new in Austin.

SXSW:  Under the radar.  Discover something new in Austin.

A music festival as large and extensive as SXSW can be overwhelming. It covers multiple genres as well as artists from all over the world. Put your FOMO to one side and embrace it. There will be favourites to see again, but it also presents an opportunity to discover a possible new musical obsession. Here are a selection of the intriguing prospects who will be performing in Austin.

Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie (Japan)

Yes, I admit it was the name that caught my eye first. This Japanese band consists of lead singer Chi- and Whoopies 1 and 2. The lead singer explains where the band name came from:

“There is an American snack called Chocolate Lime Whoopie Pie, and one day, the Whoopies came up and asked me, “Wouldn’t it be cute if this was our band name?” So, we were inspired from that name and changed ‘Chocolate’ to my favourite animal, ‘Chameleon.’ I have a thing for chameleons—I love the way they live.”  

With iconic red hair Chi- stands out from the crowd but the music is the thing. Chameleon Lime Whoopiepie‘s debut album Mad Doctor was released in 2022, following up on the EP of 2021, Play With Me.  The sonic landscape is punk inspired, as chaotic as it is joyful, eccentric and unpredictable. I suspect their live set will be unique and unforgettable.

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King Stingray (Australia)

King Stingray hail from Queensland and the Northern Territory of Australia. The tight-knit crew of Yolŋu (Aboriginal people of northeast Arnhem Land) and balanda (non-Indigenous) musicians released their self-titled debut album in 2022. They describe their sound as “Yolŋu surf rock“, and perform with lyrics in both English and Yolŋu Matha. The Guardian described King Stingray as a “band living their own dream, radiating with happiness and infectious enthusiasm.” Having had a listen this is the perfect description. ‘Raypirri’ is a highlight with its rock sensibilities and a fast and furious pace. The vocals of Yirrnga Yunupingu are passionate and full of positive energy. What an opportunity to see this band outside of their native Australia.

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Safer (United States of America)

The devil is in the detail. Safer are from Brooklyn, New York and on closer inspection their pedigree speaks volumes. Safer include Mattie Safer, singer and bassist for Poolside and The Rapture, Abdon Valdez on drums, Darren O’Brien and Liz Hogg on guitars, and Rosie Slater on Percussion. Their four-track EP Sleepless Nights was released in 2019, and it’s no surprise that it’s all funky jangly guitars. Anyone who was a fan of the late 80’s early 90’s punk funk will definitely want to check out Safer. Full of swagger and attitude and with those driving basslines, this is a must see for those you want to relive those halcyon days.

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SPARKLING are from Cologne in Germany, the city that arguably birthed Krautrock. The band comprise brothers Leon and Levin Krasel, joined by their friend Luca Schüten on bass.  For their EP This Is My Life / Das Ist Mein Leben / C ́est Ma Vie released in 2022, SPARKLING teamed up with LCD Soundsystem’s Al Doyle and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard on production duties. And so the credentials are clear. This is sharp and spikey electronica. Full of bobbing synths and dance-floor friendly vibes. I’ll see you on the dancefloor.

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Steam Down (England)

Steam Down is an artist collective, weekly event and music community based in Deptford, South-East London in England.  They were founded by multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Wayne ‘Ahnansé’ Francis in May 2017, initially to connect London-based musicians and producers. Since then it has evolved into a weekly event where Steam Down artists and its extended musical family generate spontaneous sonic soundscapes reflecting their lives in the city. Their debut EP Five Fruit was released in 2021 and their music is created through collaboration and improvisation. This is contemporary jazz, with Steam Down giving it their own twist, including hip-hop and funk. Its invigorating, uplifting music, with lyrics full of the importance of community and positive affirmations. With nine members onstage this will surely be a thrilling performance in Austin.

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We Don’t Ride Llamas (United States of America)

It seems only right that we highlight local talent from the host city. Austin’s We Don’t Ride Llamas is a family affair. The band consists of big brother Chase (lead guitar), and sisters, Max (lead vocals), Blake (drums), and Kit Mitchell (bass guitar). Avid readers, self-professed blerds, lovers of sci-fi, anime, fashion, and nearly every musical genre from punk to funk, the members of WDRL cannot resist any good story well told, especially when set to an engaging melody.  They describe themselves as an Afro Rock band and their first EP The Oracle was released in Spring 2022. A melting pot of jazz, funk, R+B, and soul with a punk attitude We Don’t Ride Llamas played nine sets in Austin in 2022. The vocals are delicious and the talent here is obvious.

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