REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Cowboys, Indians, Virtual Reality, and Synthesizers @ SXSW 2014 gives it's overview of this year's festival...


For those who don’t know, South by Southwest (SxSW), is a conference that takes place in Austin Texas that focuses on film, interactive technologies, and music. Unlike traditional festivals, it sprawls out over the entire city of Austin, like barbeque sauce on one of those delicious 
brisket sandwiches that fuels the crowds over two blissful weeks in March. The creativity, energy, and general weirdness that comes from SxSW is unparalleled; however, like all good things, it may not stay that way forever.  The technology and film portions are very impressive in their own right; Oculus Rift (recently acquired by Facebook) demonstrated their technology with Game of Thrones simulation that anyone who was lucky enough to take part was raving about. Eric Snowden addressed the crowd from a video feed from Russia, and the debut of the controversial documentary, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, were some of the highlights from other portions of the conference. But this is Subba-Cultcha, so on to the music! “Check out Brooklyn Vegan’s twitter feed- Chance the Rapper may play a surprise gig by the taco stand on 6
th street- let’s hit it!” and boom, the massive herd of people swoop onto the next destination. Trying to follow all the acts during the music portion of SxSW (the second week) is the most difficult task, and it is impossible, just trying to comprehend the amount of official and unofficial venues, what you need to gain access, and who is actually playing requires that chess playing supercomputer just to make sense of it all. The cherry on the cake are the surprise acts, sprinkled on top, the “leaks” of information spread like a virus, connecting everyone eagerly glued to their Twitter feeds and Instragram feeds to find out who is showing up next. The term “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) was invented for days like these, trying to determine how many music acts actually played is something out of one of those opaque interview questions, approximately 200 venues, by 7 days, by 7 acts a day is close to 10,000 acts, but how many of those played twice? The amount of music and events is staggering. What I discovered during my first go-round at SxSW is that there is SO much happening at all times, it really isn’t worth it to wait in a queue for 3 hours for a wristband to see Coldplay. For the major global touring acts- catch them next time they are at the O2, SxSW’s true beauty is walking down the street, hearing some interesting music and spending a set with a band you never heard of before.  Music is everywhere, but you can’t do it all, and people who try end up attempting to see it all spend their times in queues, my big takeaway was to map out a couple venues to check out and leaving several hours of discovery along the way.  One controversial aspect this year was increased need for an official SxSW badge compared to previous ($1,695! for platinum, which covers film, interactive, and music) to avoid queues. However, being a man of the people, all the adventures I covered for Subba-Cultcha were done without a badge. It is concerning what will happen in coming years as SxSW becomes more and more of a commercial entity- will people still be able to stumble upon Austin ready to explore, or will it become more and more of a festival like atmosphere? Life without the badge isn’t so bad; the spontaneousness of it all can be magical. While waiting at 
Ms P’s Electric Cock Fried Chicken truck on the side of South Congress  for their legendary fried chicken, you are engulfed by the majestic sounds of 
Kane Place Record Club, who inform the crowd that they just drove all the way from Austin from Milwaukee (
18 hours!), and who keep on trying to get their affable guitarist to stop striking up conversations with the gathering crowd so they can play. From Hip Hop BBQs and Le Barbeque to delicate Yoko Ono covers at the beautiful boutique San Jose Hotel, to 10 piece instrumental bands at Russia House- SxSW boasts an amazing array of genres. On to the music:

Listen to the artists on the dedicated Spotify playlist, here.

Music Highlights (for me):

Tanya Morgan + Spec Boogie

Raw at times, smooth at times, touching on conscious rap, at times just playful and spontaneous. We developed a bit of a man crush on Tanya Morgan who was accompanied by Spec Boogies at both Half Step and La Barbeque.


Funky and groovy Chilean band that got people grooving on the dance floor.

Theophilus London

Funky and stylish Theophilus stole the show at Fader Fort from Sam Smith, Chromeo, ect

Gardens & Villa

My personal favourite discovery from SxSW. Just a crisp and fun sound- songs that get stuck in your head and the flute- gotta love the flute!


Fantastic beats, great energy, got everyone grooving and swaying.  Silky smooth.

Fly Golden Eagle

Soul-bending voice, saw him at San Jose hotel on a picture perfect day. Great blend of harmony and raw.

By David Polonsky