Written by Emilee Lindner • March 20, 2017
You know that feeling of when you and your friends experience a cool artist and you need to tell the world? That's what SXSW is all about. And while not everyone could be in Austin, Texas to take in the 2017 event -- and not everyone in Austin could catch every show -- this year's sonic exloration, included a fun mix of up-and-comers and acts we already love. From the soothing sounds of someone famous like Lana Del Rey or Lil Wayne to the gut punch of Somalian sisters Faarrow, there was a lot to soak in at South By. Here are the 10 performances you may have missed that you definitely need to hear about.
The ContraBanned showcase highlighted artists that are immigrants or refugees. Sisters Siham and Iman Hashi, a.k.a. Faarrow, were the showcase's standout, according to Yahoo!. They escaped civil war in Somalia and now hail from Toronto. Wearing shirts that read "Refu-She!" and "Extra Power," Faarrow dished up their own original humanitarian anthem “Never Forgotten (UNHCR for Famine Relief)” and a cover of "Ready or Not" by the Fugees — "Shoutout to the Fugees for making it OK to be a refugee, and for making it cool," they said.
Out of hundreds of acts that performed in Austin, Texas, The Chicago Tribune dubbed NoName one of the nine best artists to play the festival. The Chicago rapper/poet captivated audiences with cuts off her Telefone mixtape.
Spoon are a veteran act at this point, but with a new album out, they're touting their new single "Hot Thoughts" everywhere. With a sexy, sunset-hued set at The Main, it's easy to see why they had people talking.
Banks' long and moody set got a shout-out from mxdwn.com, who waxed, "Somewhere between the wild choreographed interpretive dancing and her peculiar shiny black feathered corset, her music peeks through and brightens the dark night." In footage from the show, you can see Banks pulling out all the masterful showmanship she could fit in a small venue, with two dancers amplifying her intensity and a kind of hot-pink lighting that made the whole show electric.
Fader Fort is a staple for anyone traveling to SXSW, and Lil Yachty was there to serve up his nautical vibes. Spin recapped his "bubblegum trap party," which had the red-head rapper challenging the crowd to mosh and fill up the photographers' pit.
PWR BTTM are everyone's favorite glittery, glam punk rockers with awkward queer kid anthems for days. The best part of a PWR BTTM show must be the shredding... or the dancing... or the hilarious banter between Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins. Either way, they were definitely one of the most buzzed-about bands at SX, and had NPR talking all about them.
Solange blew everyone away at SXSW, and The Austin Chronicle lauded her performance full of "control" and power. Her set was another example of her thorough aural and visual masterwork, with her entire crew donning powder blue and dancing in tandem. "Solange’s pristine and agile soprano led her backups through entrancing Motown girl-group falsetto harmonies, punctuated by a petite brass section that filled in around the vocal play toward the end," The Chronicle wrote.
Billboard described the craziness going on at Kyle's set. First of all, the rapper wore a Dallas T-shirt to the Austin show, and secondly, the dude started crowdsurfing! He took "crowdsurfing" to the most literal interpretation, balancing on a surfboard as his fans raised him up. "With choreographed dancing and sly banter, Kyle's live show was impossibly fun," Billboard wrote.
Lizzo got all of SXSW worshipping her at multiple showcases with her breakouts "Good As Hell," "Phone" and more. She also included a cover of ANOHNI's "Drone Bomb Me." NPR, especially, loved her set at their party, writing, "Lizzo's music, like ANOHNI's, is about loudly, provocatively and fearlessly making space for oneself in the world. As fun as Lizzo's music is, it feels like a revolution, too."
Downtown Boys got an excellent review by Philly.com, who celebrated their call to action: "From many pop culture quarters, calls to #Resist are already beginning to seem like easy gestures of half-baked hashtag activism. In Downtown Boys hands, though, the struggle feels real, and while [frontwoman Victoria] Ruiz is the bona fide break out star you can’t take your eyes off, the band as a whole backs her commitment up with a muscular attack and an understanding that the music needs to be fun to get its message across."