SXSW 2019 - Amyl and the Sniffers by Ian Young
On this segment of news you already know: SXSW is massive.

It’s a beast of a festival-conference-party-networking-a-thon where over 2,000 artists vie for the attention of press, publicists, labels, industry professionals and sometimes even an actual fan or two. Everyone is selling something, be it an idea, a product, an experience, the next big thing, a lofty promise, or themselves. There are as many “actual humans” there as there are unbranded, un-curated, un-user-tested experiences. That is to say, not a whole lot.

Despite my best efforts to see/hear/photograph everything, and despite my aching feet, I was “only” able to see 54 artists over 6 days. That’s less than three percent of all official performances. Add in the unofficial day parties and showcases and…you get the idea.

I covered everything from The™ Fender™ Next™ House™ presented™ in™ partnership™ with™ Lucky™ Brand™ featuring Japanese Breakfast to hometown heroes Rose Droll and Boy Scouts playing in the living room of a student housing co-op. And you know what? Both were in-fucking-credible in their own ways.

Some other highlights: Austin’s own Ghostland Observatory tearing through their set at Mohawk, the bedazzled Charly Bliss putting a smile on everyone’s face, dancing in the pit during De La Soul, Lizzo’s superlative set at Stubb’s and her retweeting my photo, Otoboke Beaver making me go “WTF” at least 50 times during their 30-minute set, Franklin BBQ brisket and Roy Choi tacos at a mega-branded-but-I-don’t-care event by Uber Eats, Priests shutting down Saturday night in supersonic style, Emilie Kahn and her harp providing a much needed respite from the craziness, not getting blood on me at Amyl and the Sniffers and, most importantly, hanging with some of my favorite people, industry or otherwise, getting hyped about music and photography.


So, what is South By? The frustrating answer: it depends. On what you’re looking for, what you can find, what you can get into and what you want to get out of it. The musical discovery is unmatched, but so are the lines. If you go to South By chasing a specific band or a specific idea of what you want to experience, you may be disappointed. But if you go with an open mind and open ears (and are willing to subsist for a week on no sleep, intermittent meals and tallboys upon tallboys of Lone Star) then South By can be the experience of a lifetime. Oh, sorry, I meant Experience Of A Lifetime Brought To You By UberChaseBudLightMercedesSpotifyFender.

Here’s my 2019 South By experience condensed into a few photos. Enjoy, and see you next year.