Last week, 1,700 bands converged on Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest music festival. For some of the biggest names in attendance, like R.E.M. and Vampire Weekend, the event was a coronation — a chance to perform for thousands while promoting new projects. For others, it meant draining savings accounts and driving across the country, for little more than the opportunity to live among the music industry for a few days.
From the strange (Wing, a Chinese woman from New Zealand who sings AC/DC covers) to the soothing (Sera Cahoone, a singer whose songs are like foot rubs at the end of a long night out), the music brought out power and beauty in unexpected places.