The South by Southwest Music Festival always has had a strong international component, and as the festival has expanded, so has the roster of top-notch talent from around the world. Artists are traveling to the 2016 festival from all corners of the globe with a steadily growing contingent from Asia and Latin America joining the well-established European music showcases. New events this year include a hip hop from Asia showcase and a night dedicated to the music of Cuba.
Hundreds of showcases feature artists who are very successful in their home countries, but just beginning to branch out abroad. It’s meaningful for them to be here, not just representing their music but representing their countries and potentially opening the door for other musicians from their homelands.
These events are overshadowed by buzzy blogger faves, YouTube breakouts and celebrity cats. That’s unfortunate, because they’re some of the most exciting shows of the festival. The upside? Many of these shows, particularly the regional showcases, offer individuals with no official SXSW credentials entry at the door for a reasonable cover charge. (As always, if you’re trying to attend a SXSW showcase without a badge or wristband, plan to show up early and wait in line.) For adventurous Austinites, there’s no excuse. Go forth boldly and seize the opportunity to explore the musical world.
SXAméricas: Zona Indie at Sledge Hammer: Journey through South America at this showcase dedicated to indie music from Ecuador to Argentina. (Show s tarts at 8 p.m.) — N.F.
Hinds(Barcelona, Spain) Last year, Hinds was building small-scale buzz at accessible events like a Spanish music day party. This year, the all-female band is pushing “Leave Me Alone,” an appealing collection of emotional garage rock, and they’re one of the hottest bands at the fest. (11 p.m., Hype Hotel. Also: 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, Mohawk outside; 10 p.m. Thursday, Cedar Street; 5 p.m. Friday, Radio Day Stage. ) — D.S.S.
Zutzut (Monterrey, México): DJ/producer Alejandro Núñez forms part of the Mexico City-based DJ collective N.A.A.F.I., which has been revolutionizing Mexican dance music by launching a record label and a community around the music. (11 p.m. Barcelona) — N.F.
Joon Moon (Paris, France). The France rocks showcase is loaded with worthy artistes, but the cinematic soul pop of this Parisian outfit is magnifique. (9 p.m., Trinity Hall at Old School. Also: 10 p.m. Wednesday, 3Ten.) — D.S.S.
Indie Labels from IMIChile at Friends: Chile continues to be a Latin alternative music incubator producing talented artists who are making innovative musical strides, especially in the pop and electronic scenes. Check out bands performing everything from psychedelic rock to dream pop. (Show starts at 8 p.m.) — N.F.
Pedrina y Río (Bogota, Colombia): Their uplifting melodies, profound yet simple lyrics and the lead singer’s distinctive voice all set this alternative pop duo apart. (Noon at Radio Day Stage in the Austin Convention Center; 11 p.m. Thursday at Speakeasy; 11 p.m. Friday at Departure Lounge) — N.F.
FACE: Music of Pakistan showcase: A mix of traditional and modern sounds, the showcase includes Sufi poetry, mystical singing and the self-proclaimed “loudest band in Pakistan.” In headlining outfit Overload, Qawaali vocals soar as funky rock grooves mix with distinctive beats from the dhol, a double-headed drum used throughout India and Pakistan. (Show starts at 8 p.m., Victorian Room at the Driskill) — D.S.S.
Chirkutt (Dhaka, Bangladesh): From traditional folk music to rock-inspired songs, Chirkutt’s dynamic range make them fusion masters to watch. (4 p.m. at the International Day Stage in the Austin Convention Center; 10 p.m. Thursday at Russian House) — N.F.
K-Pop Night Out. The first of two nights of Korean music at the fest features rock, electropop and even metal. It’s headlined by Zion.T, a startlingly blond smooth crooner who wants to make you swoon. (Music starts at 7:30 p.m., Belmont)— D.S.S.
Los Reyes Vagos (Guatemala City, Guatemala): When SXSW announced this rock band’s upcoming showcase, Guatemalan media outlets beamed with pride. Their presence helps shine an international light on a small but mighty Guatemalan rock scene. (1 a.m. BD Riley’s) — N.F.
Kalàscima (Alessano, Italy): Ancient Italian folk plus psychedelic trance will surely make for an energetic and captivating live performance. (11 p.m. Flamingo Cantina; 1 a.m. Wednesday at Russian House) — N.F.
A-Wa (Tel Aviv, Israel): The Israeli sister trio sings in English and Hebrew, too, but the tightly structured Yemenite folk harmonies they deploy on a new single “Habib Galbi” are their secret weapon. Twelve songs on their new album, produced by Balkan Beat Box lead Tomer Yosef, are based on an ancient tradition of Yemenite women’s chanting. Add an electronic backbeat and you have one of this year’s underground sleeper hits. (midnight, Flamingo Cantina; Also 1 a.m. Friday, Russian House.) — D.S.S.
Noura Mint Semayli (Nouakchott, Mauritania): Named the best female artist of North Africa, this songstress delivers an impressive mashup of Moorish psychedelic pop-rock. (10 p.m. Hotel Vegas Patio; midnight Friday at Palm Door on Sixth) — N.F.
Vaadat Charigim (Tel Aviv, Israel): Gauzy, swirling psychedelia from a band that will return to town for Levitation later this spring. (8 p.m., Hotel Vegas Patio. Also: 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Barracuda Backyard; 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Hotel Vegas Patio) — D.S.S.
Altimet & Kawan Band (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia): Soulful hip-hop meets Malaysian folk. (11 p.m. Russian House; 2 p.m. Saturday at the International Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center) — N.F.
Mandoo Entertainment/Hip-hop From Asia. Curious about how far hip-hop, the defining sound of urban America, has spread? This showcase is headlined by KOHH, a hard-hitting spitter from Tokyo and includes artists from Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea. (Music starts at 7:55 p.m. Palm Door on Sixth Street) — D.S.S.
Natig Rhythm Group (Baku, Azerbaijan): Led by rhythm master Natig Shirinov, the Azerbaijani fast-paced percussion music is just as fascinating to watch as it is to listen. (5 p.m. International Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center; 12:30 a.m. Friday at Palm Door on Sixth Patio; midnight Thursday at Russian House) — N.F.
Korea Night II: Seoulsonic. It’s a mixed bill, but the ladies run the show at the second, edgier night of Korean music. After all-female punk-edged indie rockers Guten Birds take the stage, the wistful electropop of Neon Bunny takes the show home. — D.S.S. (Music starts at 8 p.m., The Majestic) — D.S.S.
Sounds from Cuba: For the first time, SXSW presents an all-Cuban showcase featuring performers such as Afro-Latin jazz quintet Yissy & Bandancha and Telmary Díaz, a soulful rapper, singer and poet who is backed by a seven-piece band. Also, don’t miss young, rising R&B artist Daymé Arocena, who is on her way to becoming Cuba’s next big star. (Music starts at 8:30 p.m. at Speakeasy)— N.F.
Japan Nite: The SXSW tradition celebrates 21 years of bringing rock, punk and obscure Japanese culture to the fest. This year’s is headlined by Red Bacteria Vacuum, an all-female, hardcore punk band from Osaka. (Music starts at 7:15 p.m., Elysium)— D.S.S.
Kif (Montevideo, Uruguay): Hip, danceable and avant garde electronica with elements of hip-hop, pop and South American rhythms. (8 p.m. at Swan Dive) — N.F.
El Freaky (Bogota, Colombia): The DJ Collective mixes folkloric Latin American sounds with cumbia, Caribbean Roots music, reggae, dub and electronica. In other words, your booty will shake. (1 a.m., Swan Dive Patio. Also 1:25 a.m. Wednesday, Sledge Hammer) — D.S.S.
Sounds from Spain at Lucille: An eclectic mix of mostly Madrid-based rock and pop bands including punk rockers Los Nastys, rising artists to watch. (Show kicks off at 8 p.m.) — N.F.
SXÁmericas: Zona Indie at Soho Lounge: Another stellar line-up of Latin American indie music including must-see acts such as Mexican folksy rock group Sol Flamingo, Venezuelan rock band Charliepapa, and Peruvian rockers Gaia. (Show starts at 8 p.m.) — N.F.
Aristophanes (Taipei, Taiwan): Spoken words swirl in an ominous sea of sound on the songs of this Taiwanese rapper, recruited for a guest spot on Grimes’ recent track “Scream” off the strength of her SoundCloud account. (1 a.m. Saturday, Elysium. Also, 11 p.m. Thursday, Palm Door on Sixth)— D.S.S.
Miss Garrison (Santiago, Chile): Electro-pop rockers shine with their seamless fusion and lead singer Francisca Straube’s hauntingly beautiful voice. (10 p.m. Maggie Mae’s; 11 p.m. Wednesday at Sledge Hammer) — N.F.
Tanya Stephens (St. Mary, Jamaica) The hard-edged singer and dancehall chanter scored a few hits in the late 1990s including “It’s a Pity” and “Can’t Breathe.” She anchors the best Caribbean dance party at the fest. (Palm Door)— D.S.S.
Rubel (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): Singer-songwriter who recorded songs inspired by his time living at a Pearl Street Co-op house in Austin in 2011. (10 p.m. Victorian Room at The Driskill) — N.F.
MMA Sounds from Africa. Headliner DJ Edu hosts a long-running African music radio show in Britain. He also producers regular documentaries including a recent search for “The Best Nightclub in Africa.” He’s a good kingpin for a showcase that highlights the way culture moves from the continent to the west and back again through the African diaspora. (1:30 a.m., Palm Door on Sixth)— D.S.S.