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2023 SXSW Field Report

What We’re Most Excited to See at SXSW 2023

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The From the Intercom team is once again headed to Austin for SXSW! Here’s a quick list of what we’re most excited about seeing… and please say hi if you happen to be there!


Joy Ride directed by Adele Lim

Still from Joy Ride (dir. Adele Lim), Credit: Ed Araquel, Lionsgate

As much as I loved Crazy Rich Asians, I found the appeal of that particular indulgence to be limited compared to something more grounded. It seems that my prayers have been answered by Joy Ride, the directorial debut of Adele Lim who famously wrote the screenplays for Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon. From what we know about Joy Ride, we can expect a hard R-rated road trip comedy between friends that will inevitably lead to hijinks, derailment, and probable tears. The cast is absolutely stacked with dominant Asian American actresses including Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and newcomer Sabrina Wu. With supporting roles from Desmond Chiam, Ronny Chieng, Alexander Hodge, and Chris Pang, our engines are revved for a raunchy Asian American summer.

Joy Ride premieres in theaters on June 23. -Justin Ricafort

Thao

Thao Ngyuen.

I have a running list of artists I have to see before I die and SXSW is about to check one of them off in a big way. As far as I’m concerned, Thao is the crème de la crème of Asian American indie music. With her band The Get Down Stay Down, Thao infused immense uncontainable energy and tremendous focus into several acclaimed albums. She’s been a forward-thinking and magnificently aware figure in indie rock that has contributed to the Song Exploder podcast, one of the greatest COVID era music videos, and my nascent love for folk music. Now I just have to decide if I’m bringing that Know Better Learn Faster vinyl to get signed. -Justin Ricafort

RINI

RINI.

Rini is a booked and busy man, taking a pit stop in Austin in the middle of his first headline North American tour, and it’s a performance that definitely won’t disappoint. The R&B singer serenaded a packed room at his New York stop, slinging crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser off of Ultraviolet EP, and classics like “Meet Me in Amsterdam.” Since we last spoke, the singer has gone from performing one of his first shows in the States to actually singing the fan-favorite track in Amsterdam, and we’re sure it’s nothing but up for the Aussie from here. -Nancy Jiang

Sabrina Song.

Sabrina Song

SXSW can get super hectic and damn near untrackable with the sheer number of things all happening at the same time. I haven’t even touched down in Austin yet but my body already aches thinking about all the running around and thinking ahead to the thirty minutes of slow jam escape that Sabrina Song will bring with her latest singles. The indie-pop singer will be performing at multiple unofficial showcases on top of her official one next Wednesday, but you can catch me at her acoustic set on Friday for the rawest vibes. -Nancy Jiang

All the Asian films from the Midnighters program

Still from Aberrance (dir. Baatar Batsukh)

If you know me, you’re probably clued into the fact that I’m a major horror/thriller/genre film fan. I’m always on the lookout for films that can give me nightmares, and I’m hoping to feel that excitement this year with some of the films that are screening at SXSW.

The 2023 Midnighters program features three films that I can’t wait to see – Aberrance (dir. Baatar Batsukh), It Lives Inside (dir. Bishal Dutta), and Furies (dir. Veronica Ngo). As a bonus, there are a few other films that supposedly have these elements in them playing in other programs – John Wick 4 (dir. Chad Stahelski), Raging Grace (dir. Paris Zarcilla), Beef (showrunner Lee Sung Jin), Polite Society (dir. Nida Manzoor), and “Kodama” (dir. Brian M Tang). Horror/thriller fans, we’ve been blessed! (Or cursed, if you will…) -Li-Wei Chu

All the Asian music showcases

Taiwan Beats showcase poster.

Even though this is my third year attending SXSW, I’m always surprised at just how many Asian artists are booked for the festival and the quality of the showcases that they are playing. It’s almost like a mini Asian indie festival within the larger festival – most of the time it’s hard to catch these artists playing the States at any other time of the year.

I’m particularly thinking of the shows thrown by organizations like Taiwan Beats, Sounds from Japan, Tokyo Calling, and Mystic Story/ Mandoo Entertainment. Even if you don’t know much about the artists playing, attending one of these showcases is a great way to discover some new artists due to the variety of genres they represent. But recently, one of the newest, most-hype SXSW party has been thrown by Jaded Media, and this year they’re collaborating with Balming Tiger/Tiger Den to throw another great pan-Asian showcase. As someone who was at their party last year, I can pretty much guarantee that it’ll be a great time. You know where to find me on the 15th! 

Must sees at these showcases: 9m88, Elephant Gym, Balming Tiger, Asian Glow, deca joins, billlie, LÜCY, LUCY, CHAMELEON LIME WHOOPIEPIE, Wez Atlas, POT

****It would be remiss of me to forget to mention that the US Department of Homeland Security has proposed an increased rate for visas that allow international musicians to tour in the US. I don’t know if these SXSW showcases will be affected, especially since these showcases are put together by various organizations, but it’s still a good idea to make some noise for all the international artists hoping to bring their music stateside. If you’re able to, please send in a comment as outlined by our friends at Topshelf Records. -Li-Wei Chu

Otoboke Beaver

Otoboke Beaver. Photo credit: Mayumi Hirata.

I’m going to forever maintain that Otoboke Beaver’s live show back at SXSW 2019 was one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to. High hopes for this one! -Li-Wei Chu

Sobs

Sobs. Photo credit: Christopher Sim.

IT’S FUCKING SOBS I’M GONNA CRY FROM EXCITEMENT -Li-Wei Chu


Some of our site favorites who are also going to be playing at SXSW <3

mui zyu

Peach Luffe

Cafuné

Miss Grit

Kishi Bashi

Sylo

If you’re looking for a pretty comprehensive list of Asian films playing at SXSW, check out this handy list that our friends at AAIFF put together!


SXSW starts today, March 10th, and runs through March 19th.

Relevant Links: SXSW

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