When Austin, TX music industry conference/festival South by Southwest (SXSW) held its first-ever official China showcase last year, it marked an important milestone for the recognition of Chinese musicians in the US. (By comparison, there’s been an official “Japan Nite” showcase at SXSW since 1996.) Fast forward twelve months, and there are more artists from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong showing up at SXSW 2019 than ever — another indication that music from this part of the world is reaching a level of overseas recognition it never has before.
If you’re going to be braving the day-drunk, wristbanded throngs in downtown Austin next week, here’s a cheat sheet guiding you around two official China Night events, a special showcase of Taiwanese artists, and a few other China-related pop-ups that shouldn’t be missed:
This year there are two separate showcases of talent from Mainland China at SXSW 2019 — a first in the festival’s 32-year history. Of the two, the RADII rec goes to this eclectic lineup arranged by indie label Caotai Music. My personal highlights here include Beijing techno producer Shao — who was also part of last year’s China Night — and Chengdu electro-rock band Stolen, who’ll be debuting their 2018 album Fragment for US audiences. Stolen is one of the best live rock bands in China, catch them if you can.
Those two acts are joined by a cast of lesser-known supporters, such as electro-pop artist Lia Lia, Beijing electronic quartet AEM, ambient producer 3He, and Chongqing indie band The Upside Down. Full info here.
When/where: Monday, March 11, 8pm-2am @ Elysium (705 Red River)
The band is bringing their cold, cerebral post-punk/noise rock brutality to Austin for two separate gigs, and are one of the only groups in this roundup who are not playing any kind of geographically specific showcase, which is extra cool. Highly recommended.
When/where: Saturday, March 16, 8pm-2am @ Speakeasy Kabaret (412 Congress)
When/where: Friday, March 15, 9pm @ The Hideout (617 Congress)
The Taiwan Beats showcase has been popping up at SXSW for several years now, enjoying the support of the RoC’s Ministry of Culture. (No government agencies have ever supported Mainland Chinese acts making the trek.) This year the bill includes dream pop unit The Fur., shoegazers I Mean Us, pop stylist CHIU PI, synth duo My Skin Against Your Skin, award-winning indie band EggPlantEgg, and math rock band Elephant Gym, who are returning hot off the heels of a quick US spin in 2018. Full info here, and if you’re in LA, catch Elephant Gym when they pop up at El Cid in Silverlake on Thursday March 21 via local promoters Minty Boi.
When/where: Wednesday, March 13, 8pm-2am @ Elysium (705 Red River)
Bonus: Catch an additional set by The Fur. on Tuesday, March 12, 8pm @ BD Riley’s (204 E. 6th)
This last one is a bit of a curveball honestly. Besides another appearance by ChaCha (performing here as Yehaiyahan) and a neo-soul duo featuring Xinjiang vocalist Akin and Shanghai producer Visudy, this mostly rap-oriented showcase is full of artists unknown to RADII. The event is being co-organized by Chinese music festival MTA, which was the main organizer for last year’s China Night showcase at SXSW, and WR/OC Records, which doesn’t have much a web trail besides this YouTube page featuring live videos of all the artists on this bill.
Besides Yehaiyahan and Akin x Visudy’s new duo (Artux Surfin Boi), the 2019 China Night showcase features Jilin-based rapper Kucci, Xiamen’s Lows0n, NineOne# from Xi’an, and YOUNG13DBABY from northwestern Gansu province, near Tibet. Overall there’s a distinct cloud rap flavor to this lineup, and its median birth year is like 1997, so this showcase is recommended for taking the pulse of what the kids in China are about these days. Squarely a 2019 vibe right here. Full info.
When/where: Thursday, March 14, 8pm-2am @ Pour Choices (401 E. 6th)
Listen to tracks from the artists above here:
Cover image: Yehaiyahan, aka ChaCha
You might also like:
"I felt like I was like being offered the chance to participate in the era of hip hop I had so revered during my upbringing" Read More
The artist formerly known as ChaCha reinvents herself on a new album "surging with ecstasy and hope" Read More
The artist formerly known as ChaCha goes back to her roots for a mesmerizing new video Read More