The Best Things Clash Saw At SXSW 2023 – Day One

Top picks from our correspondent on the ground...

SXSW this year still feels in many ways like it is finding its feet after the devastation of the pandemic. Many fantastic and longstanding venues have closed, new venues have popped up in their place, and crowds are keen to find their next fix of new music.

Whether it’s in a dingy underground room, on a sunny courtyard stage, or even on someone’s front porch (shout out to Sunday’s KOOP showcase) the buzz of excitement is everywhere. Lots might have changed, but the array and extent of talent on display from the thousands of acts flooding into Austin hasn’t.

Here are the highlights from the first (official) day of SXSW 2023.


Yesterday’s set at The Creek and Castle may have being the Glaswegian group Humour’s debut in the US but they brought the classic elements of British post-punk with sheer confidence. Dancing with the mechanical rhythm of clockwork gone wrong, shouting stories of horse races to an enthralled audience, and generally having a great time, they established themselves as on of the most exciting acts of the evening. Their resonance with the crowd, despite being half a world away from their homeland, proves how universal their appeal can be when given the opportunity to share their talent. 

Choses Sauvages

Fusing French psych with elements of pop, disco and classic synth, Choses Sauvage performed with a punky and playful persona. The group were charming and fun to watch, taunting the audience and encouraging people to move their feet. The resultant performance was a truly engaging set of dance-worthy pop, perfect for a sunny day on the international stage. 

Jessica Winter

Jessica Winter might be the queen of alternative dance music back in the UK but the question of her translation across to the US loomed as she took the stage on Wednesday night. Grooving through the smoke she overtook the Elysium in signature sultry style. Her danceable, seductive set entranced the crowd and the end result was closer to a club night than a gig, with sweaty audience members convulsing to the beat. 

Been Stellar

Drawing on the thriving New York indie scene that preceded them, Been Stellar brought the intensity of the city and the playfulness of modern punk in good measure. Noisy, distorted walls of sound were cut through with driven guitars to create a beguiling live show. Balancing more nostalgic melodies with grungy cynicism, they feel like a reincarnation of the classic New York scene for the modern day. 

Balming Tiger

If yesterday belonged to anyone it was Balming Tiger. The day was filled with wins, from their showcase of entirely Asian talent (the first ever Korean artist-presented official showcase at SXSW) to their buzzing 1am set. They are truly redefining popular Korean music in the international consciousness, and their set managed to balance theatricality, intensity and humour in good measure. As they told us at the end of the set “you’ve witnessed history”, and it feels difficult to say otherwise.

Words: Eve Boothroyd

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