This year was the first year that any Redefine staff members have managed to make it down to SxSW in Austin. We didn't know what to expect since SxSW's reputation proceeds it. Although slightly daunting and involving way too much standing around, SxSW is one amazing event. Some people are mistaken in thinking that SxSW is yet another cramped, sweaty festival in which people are herded around like derelict cattle. It is much, much more than that. SxSW is a non-stop music party in the city of Austin. Every venue in town -- including bars and churches that are not usually venues -- begin churning out bands from noon to early the next morning. People from all over the country and world come to Austin in mid-March to experience all of the musical delights -- free and paid -- that SxSW has to offer. Because of diverse booking, music lovers can see anyone as laughable as Bo Bice or Hanson to anyone as underground as that shitty nobody who plays at your local coffee shop. SxSW is, in many ways, an independent music lover's dream, as there were very few major label artists being represented. And did I mention the free food? Oh yes, there was a lot of free food and schwag as well. This year, we went from late Thursday, March 13th to early Sunday, March 16th. Because of the sheer number of bands at SxSW, the long lines during the nighttime shows, and the cruelty of Father Time, we obviously didn't see every band. Nonetheless, here are my five favorite acts from SxSW, in no particular order, along with a couple notable mentions.

What do you get when you put two overwhelmed magazine staffers, a few hundred bands, a shit ton of industry people, and a gay horse all together? You get Redefine Magazine's first SxSW adventure! And though the weekend was a hot sweaty blur at best, we're reminiscing about the best, worst, and craziest parts of the whole shebang (at least the parts we got into -- fuck you, Rachel Ray).

Cadence Weapon

Saturday morning at the Mohawk bar, I caught Edmonton-grown hip hopster Cadence Weapon. It wasn't the largest crowd I had seen, but I'd bet the overbearing heat had much to do with that. In fact, the heat didn't make it very easy for Mr. Rollie Pemberton; his mixer broke down midway through the set due to overheating. Temperatures were blazing and Mr. Pemberton was obviously a little worse for wear (most likely from partying it up with fellow Edmontonions from Shout Out Out Out Out), but the man truly rocked the house, whether it was screaming his lungs out for “In Search of the Youth Crew" or charging up the crowd with “Real Estate." I can't help but marvel at the enthusiasm of the crowd -- one of the many trademarks of SxSW as a whole.  


Passing by the outdoor lot on Red River Road, I saw a name that I never expected to see at any music festival, much less SxSW. Soul survivor Darondo was performing in the hot Austin sun, and his charismatic banter and incorrigible voice was a welcome refresher from the boys-with-guitars that I had been seeing up until then. Though it was obviously being framed as a mom and pop type event, Darondo brought smiles to everyone in the crowd -- young and old. Nothing really beats sucking on a free popsicle in the 90 degree heat while hearing Darondo talk about his mad cache of bitches.