Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Keith Urban To Jade Bird: 7 Of The Best Things We Saw At SXSW
At SXSW 2018 in Austin, Texas, we took you on a tour of the most happening parts of the city, brought you to the doorstep of some of the hottest new acts we saw during the festival, and went inside some of the conference's best panels, including the explosion of K-pop and what happens to reality TV singing competition stars once their time in the spotlight is up.
Even with all this, there's still so much more to see and do at SXSW, so we wanted to bring you a few other highlights from the festival. Here are seven things that jumped out at SXSW this year.
1. Keith Urban Live At Stubb's BBQ
It was announced just days before the festival that Keith Urban would bring his out-of-the-box brand of country to SXSW festival attendees at a special showcase at Stubb's BBQ on March 16 following his keynote. Man, did Urban deliver during his couldn't-miss set. He played to a packed house at Stubb's outdoor amphitheater, covering many of his hits such as "You Look Good In My Shirt" and "The Fighter" and even premiering some new music from his upcoming album, Graffiti U. At one point, Urban climbed on a balcony in the crowd and gifted a lucky audience member with the guitar off his back.
2. Rubén Blades Gets Candid
He may be a nine-time GRAMMY winner, but Rubén Blades has been historically pretty quiet about his personal life. It seems now he's pulling back the veil with a new documentary, Rubén Blades Is Not My Name, that focuses on the salsa legend's life. The film had multiple screenings during SXSW where the Panama native was on hand to speak with audience members. In addition, during a conversation moderated by NPR journalist Felix Contreras, we learned even more unexpected facts about Blades. Case in point? Blades has earned two law degrees.
3. T.I. Headlines Stubb's BBQ
Shortly after a screening of the first two episodes of "Rapture," the latest Netflix series chronicling the life story of groundbreaking hip-hop artists, T.I. headed over to Stubb's for a headlining set. The crowd to get in the venue wrapped around the sidewalk as T.I. pumped out some next level swagger. Rappers Dave East, Rapsody, Wifisfuneral, and Just Blaze joined the set and the evening filled the block with amazing beats and rhymes.
4. Women In Music
We've already covered a lot of the ways SXSW celebrated women this year, but it bears repeating. Not only did the women-centric panels bring attention to issues often unique to women in the industry, but the music lineup was awash in female artists, whether it was Rapsody's blistering set at The Belmont, the Mrs' philanthropic act of "kindness," Pussy Riot's high-octane punk protest music, the quieter sounds of Lucy Rose, or country-rock singer/songwriter Jade Bird.
5. Discovering New Acts
SXSW has a reputation for bringing emerging artists to center stage, and many of the people we talked to during the festival came away with a host of new music they are totally digging right now. There were so many great new acts, we can't possibly cover them all. But if you need a short list of places to start, check out Americana singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus, electro-pop producer/rapper Demo Taped, rockers Vista Kicks, and Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Andrea Cruz, and these seven other artists on our list.
6. Celebrating The Live Music Capital
Austin is dubbed the live music capital for a reason, making it the perfect city to host SXSW each year. With 6th Street, Rainey Street and South Congress serving as the epicenter of all the action, each venue offers its own vibe. There's The Sidewinder, the famed Paramount Theatre, The Belmont, which hosted SXSW's Korea spotlight, and so many more. A stroll down the streets yielded the sounds of rap, country, rock, pop, and more emanating from the buildings, while street musicians, such as a sax player or a drummer, brought the sound of Austin to life.
7. A Focus On Music Creator's Rights
This year's SXSW programming included not one, but several panels that focused on rights for music creators. Of note, Music Modernization Act: Changing the Licensing Landscape discussed the historic agreement in the music industry for the passage of the MMA, which would bring much needed change to how music creators get paid. In addition, the panel Paid in Full: Fixing Music Rights for Artists featured a similar discussion, providing an overview for attendees on upcoming solutions to making sure songwriters and artists get paid fairly for their work.