Thursday Essay & Photos | SXSW 2016

At SXSW, you can find talent on nearly every street corner, rooftop and alleyway. So there are advantages to only having a loose plan. With every step, there is an exchange — the smell of BBQ coming from a block of food trucks, promoters hollering, “Free show tonight!” and handing out fliers for unofficial showcases, bartenders yelling, “Two dollar shots!”

You may have an idea of where you’re going, but it’s always a journey to get there.

It’s nearly impossible to walk from one venue to the next without stopping in your tracks. Listening to beatboxing from a portable PA system, or dancing in the middle of the street to the booms and clanks of a makeshift bucket drum kit suddenly seem more important, and you’ve already forgotten where you were headed.

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

The open windows along Sixth Street yield a unique perspective and can make enjoying shows street-side just as interesting. Other times, a two-hour line for mainstream artists or large acts necessitates hopping fences, scraping knees and climbing rooftops to find vantage point to hear Eryka Badu, only to be greeted by a group of vagabonds who had the same idea. These moments are only found by stumbling into them, and if you’re lucky, they’re worth it.

Stuck in downtown Austin traffic at 3 a.m. early Friday morning, some memorable moments from Thursday at SXSW ran through my head as I closed my eyes in the back of a minivan and recollected:

Discovering Montreal’s psychedelic rock group Elephant Stone — with its barefoot, sitar-playing frontman Rishi Dhir — during its outdoor set at Hotel Vegas.

photo by Gabriella Parsons

Getting into the Volstead Room, an intimate, Zoo Bar-like space at Hotel Vegas with a one-in-one-out policy, and letting all-girl punk trio L.A. Witch melt my heart. Realizing that Hotel Vegas is only a hotel in the sense that once you’re there, you want to stay there all night.

Seeing folk-rock singer-songwriter Lissie cover “I Wanna Live” at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop during the 40 Years of Ramones Tribute Showcase, while simultaneously observing the sea of stumbling SXSWers down below. And listening to Grammy Museum’s Scott Goldman tell fun facts about Ramones, such as the band having played a total of 2,663 shows in its history.

photo by Gabriella Parsons

Watching British singer-songwriter/producer Låpsley move from one reverberated mic to another, looping to create a one-person duet that she belted during her performance at Stubb’s BBC Music Showcase.

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

Racing to catch the last song of Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield (Birmingham, Ala.) sonically striking solo set at the dimly lit Velveeta Room. Being completely mesmerized by her confident, poetic delivery, despite her pale yellow Fender Musicmaster having been stolen just moments before her performance. Whoever stole Waxahatchee’s guitar is in store for some serious karma.

photo by Lindsey Yoneda

Watching the Brooklyn punk group Worriers’ 1 a.m. set and being inspired by frontwoman Lauren Denitzio’s screw-the-gender-binary attitude. Later, getting the chance to talk to Denitzio about the challenges of being a woman in the music world in the alley behind the venue.

photos by Lindsey Yoneda

See Hear Nebraska’s photos below from Thursday at SXSW 2016, featuring Waxahatchee, Bloc Party, Tacocat, Har Mar Superstar, Christopher the Conquered, Omaha’s Tara Vaughan and more.

Christopher the Conquered at the Des Moines Embassy

Sunflower Bean at Stubb’s

Stormzy at Stubb’s

Jake Bug at Stubb’s

photos by Lindsey Yoneda

Lucy Dacus at The Sidewinder

Tanlines at Banger’s

Lower Dens at Banger’s

Bloc Party at Banger’s

Sun Club at The Blackheart

photos by Chris Dinan

Tara Vaughan at Rooftop Bar

Twin Peaks at Sidewinder

Lion In The Mane at the 512 Rooftop

Hiber at Nock Amphitheater

Har Mar Superstar at McDonald’s Loft

Tacocat at Cheer Up Charlie’s

La Luz at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Turnover at Dirty Dog Bar

Citizen at Dirty Dog Bar

Ian at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Mainland at Esther’s Follie

photos by Adam LaRose