Colombia’s presence at South by Southwest remains strong with artists representing the diversity of the South American country’s sound. At Speakeasy on Thursday night, rock band Velo de Oza kicked off the night with an energetic bang.
The quintet, which proudly represents the mountainous Andean uplands of Colombia’s Boyacá region, likes to sport traditional Colombian poncho-like ruanas over their rocker clothes and even penned a hip-shaking song in its honor. Their flair, style and humor raise the bar for showmanship skills and make them a fun band to watch live. Between songs, they keep the crowd laughing with their witty double entendres and light-hearted sense of humor.
In order to showcase their unique fusion of rock-pop with the Colombian folk music of carranga, they incorporate instruments such as the tube-like guacharaca, which produces a rhythmic sound when scratched.
Bringing another kind of animated energy on the stage was Medellin rapper Kiño, who was backed by a live band. When a pair of uninhibited dancers dashed near the stage and let loose, it broke the ice for the entire crowd who then joined in and started the party atmosphere that remained strong throughout their set.
Other featured Colombian performers at the showcase, many who have additional SXSW showcases, included reggae band Tarmac, alternative pop duo Pedrina y Río, hip-hop fusion band Duran, and Latin funk band Cirkus Funk.
Garage punk rockers Los Nastys from Madrid made their American debut at South by Southwest this week. The raucous band formed part of the group of featured artists who performed at the Sounds from Spain showcase, which promotes Spanish music internationally.
Los Nastys released their latest album “Noche de Fantasmas” earlier this month and were looking forward to connecting with other musicians as well as music industry professionals during the festival. “There’s nothing quite like South by Southwest in Europe,” said guitarist Fran Basilio in Spanish.
For bands like Los Nastys who emerged from Spain’s underground scene, the country’s economic downturn hasn’t been easy. “All of us have day jobs,” said bandmate Luli Acosta Quintas in Spanish. “I work in a clothing retail store to make ends meet.” Still the band looks forward to touring in the U.S. for the first time (they head to California after SXSW) and expect to get many song ideas while on the road for a future second album.
Catch Los Nastys at 8 p.m. Thursday at Lucille, 11 p.m. Friday at Lucille and 9 p.m. Saturday at Maggie Mae’s.
With a powerful stage presence that commanded the attention of the room, African songstress Elida Almeida strutted on the stage at the Russian House Wednesday evening and captivated world music lovers with her enchanting voice, moving spirit and fun-loving nature.
At just 23 years old, Almeida already has an incredible depth and charisma as an artist that stretches beyond her years. Perhaps it’s because she wears her heart on her sleeve. Though danceable and uplifting, some of her songs in Portuguese reflect on melancholy moments from her childhood including the death of her father when she was just a girl and the conversation she had with her mother when she found out Almeida was pregnant. At 17, Almeida wrote her first song.
But Almeida also knows how to turn it up with Afro-Latin and folk rhythms. She tied a scarf around her hips for a booty-shaking session that had the crowd cheering. “It’s easy,” she said with a smile. When the crowd begged to differ, the room filled with laughter.
Keep your eyes on this rising artist from Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa, who has turned her life’s struggles into a drive that pushes her forward. “You have to believe in yourself,” she told the crowd.
Almeida’s performance was part of a Sounds from the World showcase, which featured other international artists such as Cabezas Flutantes of Brazil who present upbeat, pop experimental songs that showcase tropical soundscapes.
After the success of the first Pakistan showcase at South by Southwest last year, a new slew of artists representing the country performed on Wednesday evening at the Victorian Room at the Driskill Hotel. The showcase, which is a project of the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education (FACE), aims to highlight the best of Pakistani culture through music.
When energetic folk singer Wahid Allan Faqir took the stage, he animated the crowd with his festive spirit and colorful traditional outfit. The showcase brought together many ex-pats who sat on the carpeted floor in front of the stage while others danced and encouraged Faqir to step off stage and dance among the festgoers.
This year’s performers also included electronic music producer Dynoman, soulful songstress Mai Nimani, singer/poet Imran Aziz Mian Qawwal and rock band Overload. Some of the musicians have additional shows throughout the festival. Check the SXSW schedule for dates and times.
Organizers said they hope the Pakistan showcase, which has support from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, becomes an annual tradition at SXSW.
South by Southwest’s Radio Day Stage and International Day Stage were delayed by about two hours on Wednesday following the opening keynote panel featuring First Lady Michelle Obama. The Austin Convention Center’s upper floors, where the shows were scheduled, were inaccessible until after the opening session wrapped up.
Despite Wednesday’s delay, these day stages typically offer music lovers a chance to enjoy intimate performances with a relaxed vibe.
Featured performers at the International Day Stages included Argentine-Colombian electronic folk duo, Lulacruza. The trio, who all performed barefoot, beautifully melded modern and ancient sounds. Their set was a perfect place to get away from the festival chaos and get inspired with the lead vocalist’s powerful voice and moving music. Lulacruza performs again at midnight Wednesday at The Townsend and 8 p.m. on Friday at Palm Door on Sixth.
Kicking up the party vibe later was Colombia’s Systema Solar. Their amped up set of electro-cumbia grooves, energetic frontman plus loud black and white geometric outfits make them a must-see band. Catch them again at 1 a.m. Thursday at Flamingo Cantina, 1 a.m. Friday at the North Door and at a free show at 6 p.m. at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake.
Click here for more Radio Day Stage shows during the festival and here for more International Day Stage performances.
Sounds from Spain, an organization that fosters and promotes Spanish music internationally, hosted its ninth annual day party at Brush Square Park on Wednesday afternoon. To get into the Spanish spirit, music lovers were also treated to paella, tapas and sangria.
This year’s mostly rock-inspired lineup included Juventud Juché, punk band Los Nastys, Sexy Zebras, rockers Agoraphobia, singer-songwriter Juan Zelada and The Parrots.
All-female rock band Agoraphobia, who sing in English, brought a combination of charisma and a feisty edge to their performance. This set the tone for an afternoon of music from a country that despite its musical riches has recently endured an economic downturn that has also affected many of its emerging artists.
Catch all the Spanish acts again at the evening showcase on Friday, March 18 at Lucille (77 Rainey).
Listen to just a few notes of Chicano Batman’s soulful throwback sounds and it’s easy to imagine it being the soundtrack to a laid-back, retro Chicano film. And with the name Chicano Batman, you can’t expect anything less than cool from this Los Angeles-based bilingual quartet. (10 p.m. Saturday, March 19, Maggie Mae’s)
Master Blaster Sound System’s cultural mashups result in cumbia electronica that pushes musical boundaries. Don’t miss the chance to catch these Austin party instigators live. (1 a.m. Thursday, March 17, Lucky Lounge)
Carrie Rodriguez’ twang-laden songs have captured the hearts of Americana music fans for years, but for the Austinite’s latest album, “Lola,” the talented fiddle player and singer connects with her Latin roots and creates a modern twist to Tex-Mex music. (8 p.m. Thursday, March 17, The Majestic)
Singer-songwriter Mitre’s haunting blend of bilingual songs are inspired by everything from spaghetti westerns to traditional Mexican music. We’re hoping that since Austin’s David Garza is featured on Mitre’s song “Aguacero” that he’ll join him for this SXSW appearance. (8 p.m. Friday, March 18, Departure Lounge)
New York rapper Nitty Scott MC has been on the rise lately with her socially conscious music that explores themes from her Afro Latina identity to mental health and spirituality. The half-Puerto Rican, half-African American artist has collaborated with rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and Action Bronson. (11:10 p.m. Saturday, March 19, Speakeasy)
Originally a punk rock band, Houston’s Los Skarnales didn’t lose their edge when they branched out to play a blend of Latin ska, reggae, rockabilly and cumbia. (Midnight Thursday, March 17, Lucky Lounge and midnight Friday, March 18, at Flamingo Cantina)
8 p.m. Gina Chavez (The Sidewinder Outside). Embracing the space between cultural lines, this Austin-based songstress offers a glimpse into the path she’s been on to connect with her Latina roots with inimitable bilingual folk-pop songs.
9 p.m. Natisú (Friends). Chile keeps making some of the best pop music in Latin America thanks to adventurous musicians like experimental indie artist Natisú. (Also playing at 9 p.m. Thursday at Departure Lounge.)
10 p.m.-1:40 a.m. SXAméricas: Zona Indie showcase (Sledge Hammer). Check out a sampling of Latin American indie music at this showcase. You’ll discover bands like Los Detectives Helados, who come from Ecuador’s burgeoning music scene with their indie rock that flirts with cosmic pop.
8 p.m. The Warning (Karma Lounge). When a YouTube video of these three Mexican sisters playing a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” went viral, the young girls ages 15, 13 and 10 rose to the spotlight. They appeared on the Ellen De Generes show and raised money to attend a summer program at the Berklee College of Music, where they also created video diaries for the EllenTube Channel.
9 p.m. Jéf (Sledge Hammer). The Brazilian singer-songwriter got his big break in 2014 when he won the reality show music competition “Breakout Brazil” and landed a record deal with Sony Music.
10 p.m. Molina y Los Cósmicos (Sledge Hammer). In recent years, the tiny country of Uruguay has been producing unbelievable music. At previous SXSW festivals, the country has brought a delegation of diverse artists. Although there’s no official Uruguayan showcase this year, there are several standout artists like this folk-pop outfit.
11 p.m. Cabezas Flutuantes (Russian House). Using homemade instruments and everyday objects like pencils, Cabezas Flutantes of Brazil present upbeat, pop experimental songs that showcase tropical soundscapes.
Midnight Oques Grasses (Flamingo Cantina). Rising stars in the Catalan music scene, Oques Grasses of Barcelona deliver reggae-inspired pop music. (Also playing Friday at the Palm Door, time is TBD.)
1 a.m. División Minúscula (Karma Lounge). The SXSW alums’ punk rock sound was discovered by legendary DJ Toy Selectah of Control Machete fame. (División Minúscula also plays at 5 p.m. Saturday at the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake.)
8 p.m. Velo De Oza (Speakeasy). When you mix Colombian folk music with rock and pop, you get an energetic live show from this charasmatic band that’s sure to create a fun vibe. (Also plays at 11 p.m. Friday at Flamingo Cantina)
9:20 p.m. Arianna Puello (Speakeasy Kabaret). Now more than ever fierce women in Latin hip-hop are bringing inventive and politically savvy rhymes to the forefront. Arianna Puello, a Spanish rapper of Dominican descent, has been delivering her spit-fire lyrics since 1993. (Also performs at 9:40 p.m. Friday at North Door.)
10 p.m. Elida Almeida (Flamingo Cantina). Music lovers will be enchanted with the powerful voice and incredible depth that this songstress brings from Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa. Though danceable and uplifting, some of her songs in Portuguese reflect on meloncholy moments from her childhood including the death of her father when she was just a girl. (Also plays at midnight on Wednesday at Russian House.)
11 p.m. Las Delailas (Departure Lounge). The Monterrey-based pop-folk outfit creates melodies composed using a combination of guitar, ukelele, harmonica, tambourine and vocal harmonies.
Midnight. A-Wa (Flamingo Cantina). Yeminite sisters infuse Arab folk songs with modern beats. (Also play 1 a.m. Friday Russian House.)
1 a.m. The Chamanas (The Townsend). Drawing musical influences from 1970s Mexican pop and modern indie music, the Chamanas call the border region of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez home. They recently captured the national spotlight with their cover of Portugal. The Man’s song “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.” (Also play at 1 a.m. Saturday at Blackheart)
8 p.m. Lulacruza (Palm Door on Sixth). The Argentine electronic folk duo beautifully melds modern and ancient sounds. It’s the place to be when you’re ready to get away from the SXSW chaos and reenergize with inspiring music. (Also play at noon on Wednesday at the International Day Stage and at 12:05 a.m. on Wednesday at The Townsend.)
9 p.m. Sotomayor (Flamingo Cantina). Siblings Raul and Paulina Sotomayor make up the hip, electronic music project from Mexico City. Their cutting-edge beats also fuse rhythms like Peruvian chicha music. (Also plays at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the International Day Stage and 9 p.m. Thursday at Lucille.)
10 p.m. Julio Piña (Flamingo Cantina). These Chilean party instigators create hip-shaking cumbias sure to keep you dancing all night. (Julio Piña will also perform at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Russian House.)
11 p.m. Jenny and the Mexicats (Continental Club). An English female trumpet player walked into a flamenco club in Spain and met two Mexican musicians that changed her musical journey. They added a Spanish cajón player to the mix, and became rising stars playing bilingual genre-blending grooves that mesh everything from flamenco to rockabilly.
12:05 a.m. Kat Dahlia (Swan Dive). The buzz has been swirling around Miami-bred Cuban-American singer-songwriter Kat Dahlia. The up-and-comer released her debut album in 2015, and it’s inspired by pop, Latin, hip-hop and reggae. (Also performs at noon on Saturday at the Radio Day Stage.)
1 a.m. Locos Por Juana (Half Step). The Grammy-nominated Miami band has been shaking up the Latin music world for more than a decade with their hybrid sound and energetic live shows. Don’t miss the chance to see these party masters. (Also perform at midnight Saturday at Flamingo Cantina.)
6 p.m. Systema Solar (SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake). They’ve risen from the Colombian music underground and stormed the Latin alternative scene with their explosive shows that are an audio visual experience. Systema Solar blends Afro Carribbean and Colombian folk with everything from hip-hop, techno, house, cumbia and electronica. (Also perform at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Radio Day Stage and 1 a.m. Thursday at Flamingo Cantina.)
8 p.m. Laguna Pai (Flamingo Cantina). The Peruvian reggae rockers weave socially conscious lyrics in their music focusing on issues like environmental conservation and equity.
9 p.m. Florencia Núñez (Stephen F’s Bar). Keep your eyes on this Uruguayan singer-songwriter whose impressive first album has been showered with accolades. She’s an exciting new voice in Latin indie music tying together influences from pop, jazz and folk.
10 p.m. Zona Tango (Elephant Room). You’ve never heard tango music like this before. Argentine multi-instrumentalist and composer Pedro Menendez’ ecclectic musical project creates a modern tango sound by fusing it with jazz, electronic and psychedelic rhythms.
11 p.m. Consulado Popular (Flamingo Cantina). Punk rock meets Colombian cumbia. (Also play at 1 a.m. Thursday at Speakeasy.)
12:50 a.m. Buyepongo (Speakeasy). Singer and percussionist Edgar “Meshlee” Modesto once described the Los Angeles band’s sound as music that’ll get you moving and thinking. Buyepongo released its album “Todo Mundo” earlier this year, which is full of pan-Latin rhythms that’ll nourish your soul.
Veteran graffiti artist Nathan “Sloke” Nordstrom has been strengthening Austin’s spray can art scene for decades. His art has taken him around the world painting murals and participating in group art shows. Over the years, he’s become a mentor for a new generation of artists and his commission work includes clients such as Nike and Google.
As a native Austinite, he’s seen the local graffiti culture evolve from the days when he painted on the streets without permission. In recent years, he’s witnessed the city embrace a thriving street art scene, which incorporates methods such as wheat pasting, sticker or stencil art.
Now Nordstrom, who is also known as “Sloke One,” is taking all of his graffiti art experience and translating it to canvas for his first solo exhibition, “Fatcapped.” A selection of his pieces as well as documentary photographs of Nordstrom’s work from the streets are on display at the Austin gallery, Testsite (502 W. 33rd St.) from now through March 27. The gallery is open Sundays from 4-6 p.m. and by appointment.
“This is my way of taking the rawness and energy of the streets and bringing it indoors,” Nordstrom says in the exhibit’s artist statement.
“Fatcapped” was curated by Chale Nafus who says he’s been fascinated by the four elements of hip-hop culture (graffiti, b-boyin’, rapping and deejaying) since 1984. Nafus has seen these elements blossom, die and revive throughout his three decades in Austin.
In the late 1980s, Nafus met one of Nordstrom’s mentors Al “Skam” Martinez, who was part of Austin’s first wave of graffiti writers. In an accompanying essay with the exhibit, Nafus says he met Nordstrom years after Martinez’ 1994 death at a time when Austin’s hip-hop culture was being invigorated by events like hip-hop festival BBoy City.
In Nafus’ essay, Nordstrom explained his graffiti art process and style: “The letters are your name and the style is a reflection of who you are. Some people say, ‘Well don’t you get bored writing your name over and over?’ It’s not about that. It’s stylized typography. And as I change in life and evolve as an artist, so does my style.”
Bicultural music mashers Nortec Collective will present special sets by Bostich + Fussible at Casa México during South by Southwest Interactive on March 11-14 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. A slew of other Mexican performers including hip-hop icon and mix master Toy Selectah (of Control Machete fame) will help kick off Mexico’s first large-scale event at SXSW, which will bring entrepreneurs, tech innovators, tourism and cultural leaders together.
Casa México events, which are free with registration, range from art and tech panels to entrepreneur meetups. Musical performances will be interspersed throughout the day with evening performances starting at 6 p.m.
Other featured performers include Mexican alternative rockers Centavrvs, who are SXSW alums that energize crowds with their electro-corridos and N.A.A.F.I., a collective of DJs redefining Mexico’s dance music scene.
Casa México guests should register here. For more information about the panels and shows, visit casamexicosxsw.com.
Here’s a look at the complete musical line-up:
Friday, March 11
2-2:30 p.m. McCallum High School Ballet Folklórico