South By Southwest is a wild ride. Spreading across the city of Austin, Texas, the ten-day industry festival focuses on film, music, and innovation in those fields. It also provides an excellent opportunity to spot upcoming styles and learn about trends you hadn’t heard of but should’ve and a few that are just about to come into their own. Here’s a short list of the films we saw, the music we listened to, and the digs people wore out west during this year’s SXSW.
Courtesy of SXSW on Facebook
1. Upstream Color (2013, dir. Shane Carruth): Shane Carruth not only directed but starred in his second feature film, a romance-thriller that’s probably more beautiful than substantive. A huge hit among festival-goers, this film is worth seeing for the deep emotional chords, the stunning visual experience, and the evocative if sometimes confusing love story at its core.
2. Zero Charisma (2013, dir. Katie Graham & Andrew Matthews): This film premiered at SXSW to a crowd composed mostly of hipsters and out-and-out tabletop gaming nerds. Both demographics are conveniently represented in the film, which boasts a frumpy, misanthropic fast food employee whose true raison d’être is a weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons over which he presides as Game Master. His world is rocked when he invites a sociable, hip, and good looking tech blogger to join his game. We see the dichotomies of authenticity and irony fleshed out in this indie, nerdy comedy.
3. You’re Next (2011, dir. Adam Wingard): Okay, so we didn’t actually get to see this one (we went to the Brainfeeder Official Showcase instead), but we can’t wait to! This flick is a fresh take on the home invasion thriller and will allegedly restore our faith in contemporary horror films.
1. Shout Out Louds: We’ve been listening to this Swedish group since 2005 when they released their first album, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. They’ve continued to deliver solid, euro-tinged pop rock tunes that are at times are deeply emotive and at others disco dance-y. It was great to finally catch them live; take a listen to this anthemic track, Tonight I Have To Leave It.
2. Norwegian Arms: Think of this Philadelphia-based trio as a folkier Animal Collective. We got our first taste of this group at the start of last summer, and they’ve just recently released their first LP, Wolf Like A Stray Dog this past January. We were lucky to catch one of their sets at J. Black’s Feel Good Lounge (not just because that’s a great venue name) but because the percussive, catchy tunes, many punctuated by the sweet sound of a mandolin, translate into a great show, replete with toe-tapping and head nodding. Check out their upcoming gigs and catch them in your town.
3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra: We can’t say enough about this group. Frontman Ruban Nielson recycles sounds from a fuzzier, funkier era of rock ‘n’ roll and delivers well crafted, deeply meaningful sounds that are at once nostalgic and completely fresh. They recently released their sophomore album, II, on Jagjaguwar in February. We hung at at Brooklyn Vegan’s Saturday Day Party all day to hear them, and we’re glad we did. Take a listen for yourself.
1. Fringe: It was everywhere. On boots, bags, tops, dresses. You name it, somebody put a fringe on it and sold it to a SXSW attendee. Is this the new look for summer? Quite possibly. But it can easily be a bit much or just outright tacky. If you’re going to do it, do it right. We like this Staring at Stars Silkly Fringe Jacket from Urban Outfitters. The embroidered details provide a great accent to the cream-colored garment, and the fringe is delicate enough not to overwhelm the rest of your outfit.
2. Pastel-Colored Hair: A lot of girls at SXSW seemed to be taking cues from Grimes, everybody’s favorite industrial-electro “It” girl. We really like the idea of spicing up your ‘do with a bit of unconventional color, but if you’re not ready to make it permanent, why not try hair chalking? It’s an easy, DIY way to mix things up without committing for the long haul.
Photo Courtesy of The Beauty Department
3. Round Sunglasses: Not that we didn’t see this one coming from a mile away, but our time in Texas further convinced us that round frames are the way to go this summer. So many guys and girls opted for super round sunglasses frames to protect their peepers from the Southwestern sun. If you want to try this look, check out American Apparel, which has a robust collection of circular styles.
Photo Courtesy of Lucky Magazine
That concludes Part I of our look back at SXSW 2013. Stay tuned for the next installment – all about biking in Austin and the best rides we saw last week.