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Late Night Dispatches From SXSW

A Place to Bury Strangers performs at Cheer Up Charlies. (Bob Boilen/NPR)
A Place to Bury Strangers performs at Cheer Up Charlies. (Bob Boilen/NPR)

The annual SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas can be overwhelming. With thousands of bands performing over five days across the city, there's no way to see everything, but there's always a great opportunity to discover a great musician you've never heard before. That's one of the reasons that at the end of each night during SXSW, members of our team in Austin gather and discuss the best of what they saw and heard that day.

We'll add a new late night dispatch to the playlist below every morning; you can get them in your podcast feed automatically by subscribing to All Songs Considered. We'll also create a best of SXSW 2018 playlist where we'll keep adding music by bands we fall in love with until we come home from Austin.

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Tuesday, March 13

Chloe Foy performs at The Driskill. (Bob Boilen/NPR)

Our first day at SXSW ran the gamut from high-impact exercise to a literally epic lullaby: Russian protest band Pussy Riot led its crowd in EDM calisthenics and Max Richter performed his eight-hour work Sleep, in a room full of beds on which the audience was encouraged to sleep (Stephen Thompson did). The "concentration of creativity" didn't stop there: Thunderpussy "stole the night" for Robin Hilton; Bob Boilen texted World Café's Talia Schlanger to see some emo puppets and the most fascinating music of the day came from Sudan Archives and acts like Partner, Chloe Foy and Dermot Kennedy impressed our team.

Wednesday, March 14

Stella Donnelly at Cheer Up Charlies. (Bob Boilen/NPR)

Most years, Wednesday at SXSW means one thing: NPR Music's showcase at Stubbs. This year's event was a collaboration with partner stations featuring many bands from our Slingshot list of up-and-coming musicians. On the main stage, there were great sets from the hip-hop supergroup August Greene, led by Common; Tiny Desk Contest winner Tank and the Bangas and the bundle of energy known as Superorganism. There's plenty more to remember including a great set by Stella Donnelly, but this particular Wednesday also had special meaning: It was the 10-year anniversary of the moment, at a show in Austin, that gave birth to Tiny Desk Concerts.

Thursday, March 15

Idles performs at Latitude 30. (Bob Boilen/NPR)

For Robin Hilton, day three at SXSW 2018 continued an emotional run of inspired music, punctuated by the Brooklyn pop-punk trio THICK and an artist known only as MAX, a phenomenal pop-and-soul singer who gives unforgettable performances with lots of flair and theatrics. Bob Boilen witnessed the positive punk energy of Idles while dodging shattered glass. And Robin, Bob and Stephen Thompson all independently showed up for by Many Rooms. Meanwhile, Talia Schlanger's day included a heartwarming moment at Willie Nelson's Ranch.

Friday, March 16

Rev. Sekou performs at The Driskill in Austin, Texas during SXSW 2018 (Bob Boilen/NPR)

An eclectic day that featured multiple animal sightings and many musical highlights: Andrew W.K. and his whole band gave us the life-affirming gift of joycore. Dermot Kennedy took us to church in a church. Lido Pimienta and Rev. Sekou delivered searing performances. Other favorites included Trupa Trupa, from Poland, and the Australian session drummer-turned-singer G Flip, who played her first solo show ever earlier in the week at SXSW and is poised to explode.

Saturday, March 17

A Place to Bury Strangers performs at Cheer Up Charlies. (Bob Boilen/NPR)

On our final day at SXSW 2018, we discuss music by the remarkable lute/drum duo Xylouris White, a creative artist who grew up in the Philly rap scene named Tierra Whack, a transformative set from Cuddle Magic and marvel at the flow and breath of Dessa (and the story of an inhaler). Plus, we tip our hats to the folks who put this festival together and the wide scope of sounds and experiences they manage to stuff into a week. We leave you with these words: It's a cloak, not a cape.

Copyright NPR 2019.

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