Thousands of bands descended upon Austin less than a month ago, and we experienced just a fraction of those playing. This year felt much more regulated with fewer big-name artists and advertising endorsements, which made the festival feel a bit out of reach in year’s past. Although SXSW 2018 was less commercialized, there was no shortage of music or bands.

As is always the case, the one thing that SXSW does extremely well is invite a great variety of artists and bands to perform. With so much diversity and talent, we felt we should recognize each one in a special way. So without further ado, here is a recap of the bands we witnessed and also if there was an annual set of awards to give out to festival performers, this is what we would present. Check back tomorrow for more awards and coverage from SXSW.

Note that we couldn’t hand out awards to every artist and band we saw, but we enjoyed everything we witnessed. In the slider at the bottom of the page, find photos of The Accidentals, Sam Himself, The RPMs, Ian Moore, No Vacation, Salt Cathedral, The Outer Vibe, and Sharkmuffin.

Most Energetic Set – Kitten (New York, USA)

We recently shared “I Did It” by Kitten, and we knew the band had taken a new spin on their sound. That said, we were not sure what to expect during the live set. Once Chloe Chaidez made her appearance on stage, you could not stop watching. She is truly a modern-day Joan Jett with her stage presence. She jumped all around, made a wardrobe change, and even Face-timed her mom on stage. The band works so well on stage together and completely play off each other. Kitten is definitely a band you must see live


Deserves A Larger Stage Award – The Fontaines (Los Angeles, USA)

We caught The Fontaines at probably the smallest possible outdoor stage with a maximum capacity of about 30. The quartet definitely had a captive audience, yet with the massive talent and energy of singer Charlotte, she needed a larger area to move around. We could also give the band the “Best Lit Up Guitar” award, but our camera did not do it justice. You can view Hank’s lit up guitar in the video for their newest single release, “Beso”.


Most Likely To Have the Most Irish In Attendance Award – The Academic (Westmeath, Ireland)

The Academic put on an awesome late-night set at the festival, and this was their only appearance at SXSW. They not only completely impressed with their live set, but they also had the most Irish fans in the crowd. Their rowdy fans from the Emerald Isle helped keep the show full of energy and proved to us that The Academic have quite the loyal followers. Look out U2!


The Nicest Band Award – The Jacks (Los Angeles, USA)

The Jacks played a great set at their official showcase and were also the most humble and approachable after their set. They really were down to Earth and just all-around nice guys. It doesn’t help that they are all easy on the eyes as well. Their live set projected a much more blues-rock feel compared to their recordings which makes for an extremely likeable live show.


Largest Crowd Award – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – (Denver, USA)

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats had the Auditorium Shores headlining slot, which is an outdoor venue that holds quite a few people. This concert is pretty much open to anyone, which means you don’t have to have a wristband and it’s free. The soul-folk-Americana-rock band never disappoints in a live setting.


Best Frontman Award – Albert Hammond, Jr (New York, USA)

Albert Hammond Jr. has continued to grow both in his music career and with his live stage presence. With his most recent tour in support of Francis Trouble, he is proving to the world that he is star material with that onstage persona. His live set at SXSW was another testament to his talent and the true excitement he brings in a live setting.


Most Likely To Jump Around Award – Great Good Fine Ok (Brooklyn, USA)

Sometimes you never know how the live set will turn out for a mostly electronic or synth-pop band. Great Good Fine Ok totally exceeded expectations in a live setting. Not only was singer Jon Sandler jumping up and down during the first track played, it was really hard for the crowd not to be jumping up and down as well.


Too Big for the Stage Award – MEUTE (Hamburg, Germany)

Happening upon MEUTE was a total fluke, but definitely worth witnessing all of these member squeeze on the stage and play techno music with all of their band instruments. It’s definitely a sight to watch. It’s so unbelievable that all of these different instruments can emulate what you hear in some hard core techno tracks. If you really can’t quite picture it, check out this video here.


Best Unexpected Cover Song Award – Lovelytheband (Los Angeles, USA)

Lovelytheband put on a great set as singer Mitchy Collins shared some of his struggles with depression and back stories for certain tracks. Halfway during the set, he asked the crowd if they wanted to hear a cover song and as the crowd erupts with a resounding yes, a most unexpected rock version of Ginuine’s “Pony” starts playing. You can listen to the acoustic version here, but the plugged in version was quite clever.

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