Rita Quinn/Getty Images
Jim James onstage during the opening night of the 2013 SXSW Music festival in Austin, Texas.
Jim James onstage during the opening night of the 2013 SXSW Music festival in Austin, Texas. Rita Quinn/Getty Images
The All Songs Considered gang has made their way to Austin, Texas for this year's South By Southwest music festival. The five day event, which showcases performances by over 1500 bands and artists, takes over the city, and this year officially starts one day earlier than in the past — Tuesday night.
Action Bronson on stage and under a fan, at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
Action Bronson on stage and under a fan, at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Mito Habe-Evans/NPR
After arriving in Austin and getting back into the business of seeing as many bands as possible as quickly as they could manage, Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers met up in the early hours of Wednesday morning to share their encounters with giant beards, Snuggies, and random bursts of "bro dancing."
In the first late-night dispatch from Austin, some themes emerged. Stephen saw multiple 17-piece bands, started tracking the numbers of beards on stage at a given time (Austin-based band Quiet Company set the bar for the first night with five) and caught a set by one of country music's great new female voices, Ashley Monroe. Ann was bummed to miss Monroe, but marveled at finger-tapping guitar "super heroine" Marnie Stern. Robin and Bob both battled with crowds and logistical barriers, but finally made it into great shows. The highlight of Robin's abbreviated opening night was an up-close-and-personal performance by chef turned rapper Action Bronson, who lifted a fan onto his shoulders during one song. Finally, Bob broke his own rule about SXSW — to only see sets by bands he's never seen before — for a performance by the "sensational" Jim James.
Listen to the podcast for these stories and more discoveries from SXSW's opening night. You can also follow our crew all day on Twitter, at the handles below.
SXSW 2013, DAY ONE PICKS
Bob Boilen (@allsongs):
- Jim James
- Dana Falconberry
- Blue Hawaii
Robin Hilton (@nprobin):
- Action Bronson
- Divine Fits
Ann Powers (@annkpowers):
- Marnie Stern
- Ryan Bingham
- The Blank Tapes
Stephen Thompson (@idislikestephen):
- Mother Falcon
- Quiet Company
- Ashley Monroe