If you don’t know about South by Southwest, which kicks off today, then think the Edinburgh Festival without the backdrop of the castle and with the emphasis on new music, cinema and technology rather than theatre and comedy. And think better weather too as this takes place in the very much warmer climes of Austin, Texas.

Since its inception in 1987, SXSW has grown in size each year and is now widely recognised as the world’s most prestigious international showcase for contemporary music with thousands of performers cramming into over 100 venues – and again like Edinburgh, just about any space that could conceivably host a show is utilised, be it bar, art gallery or even taco joint. There’s an official element as well as a fringe and there’s a range of festivals on offer, SXSW Film focuses on new directing talent, while Interactive SXSW showcases emerging technology. Twitter didn’t officially launch there but that’s where it first made a big media splash. #blameSXSW

The only problem for SXSW is the possibility that it might just be in danger of becoming a victim of its own success with an inevitably ever growing corporate presence, hotels guaranteed to be fully booked increasingly insisting on whopping price hikes, seating shortages at film screenings and folk being turned away from the gigs they most want to see being just some of the problems. Good luck to anybody hoping to see St. Vincent by the way.

Over the years, the music festival has attracted a high number of Scottish based bands such as Franz Ferdinand, The Rezillos and Trashcan Sinatras and the 2014 contingent, who hopefully won’t forget to pack some Factor 50 sun lotion, includes Withered Hand, Meursault, Honeyblood, Young Fathers and Casual Sex, who’ve just finished a short British tour that included Mono in Glasgow and, just a couple of nights ago, Mad Hatters in Inverness. Here, from their Bastard Beat EP is Like Nothing on Earth:

Around this time last year the Guardian’s Paul Lester memorably described them as: ‘the Glitter Band impersonating Neu! at the height of punk’ which maybe isn’t really very accurate, or any more accurate than any number of combinations of glam, art rock, krautrock, post-punk and indie references that you could equally throw in into the equation. Okay, I’ll go for Josef K impersonating ESG with Jarvis Cocker helping out with the lyrics.

If you wanna Google them it might be best to add Sam Smith (the singer/crooner) to your search query. Or just click one of the links below:


And if you haven’t heard of ESG and happen to be in Austin, good news, as South Bronx’s finest are playing live in town on Saturday the 16th. Here’s the funky and much sampled Moody followed by another set of Scots who have previously been part of SXSW, Django Django with Default.

And finally, a couple of Scottish films have been invited to feature in the SXSW Film Conference & Festival. Following its recent world premiere at Sundance, Stuart Murdoch’s directorial debut God Help the Girl is screening in the 24 Beat Per Second strand while Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril is screening as part of SX Global.