Cincinnati music has always had some sort of presence at South by Southwest, the seminal festival/conference/showcase in Austin, Texas that has been a prime destination for music business folks and aficionados for 32 years now. Though it has grown in scope dramatically and now features many established performers, the event is still a reliable platform for up-and-coming artists to perform in front of music industry representatives (from labels, publishers, booking agents, management firms, etc.) who can provide opportunities to take their careers to the next level. It’s also just a big, fun party that gives bands a chance to pick up fans and play for other musicians and music die-hards from all over the world.
This year, Cincinnati’s strong SXSW contingent is a good signifier of the health of the local music scene right now. Here’s a look at some of those participating, many of which are playing local shows or releasing new material ahead of the big event. (Click the artists’ names for links to their SXSW profiles.)
• Dawg Yawp had one of the best 2017s of any Cincinnati music entity. The duo’s sitar-laced Indie Folk/Pop debut album scored nationwide airplay and led to frequent touring and an appearance on NPR’s popular Tiny Desk Concerts (watch below). Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan also scored big at the 2017 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, picking up the prizes for Album of the Year and Artist of the Year. The twosome (which also played SXSW last year) received another big honor ahead of this year’s festival — Dawg Yawp was deemed one of the worst band names of 2018’s South By Southwest (joining the likes of The Fish Police, Soccer Mommy, Special Guest and Juiceboxxx), dismissed with a blithe “Nah, dog” by Austin blog do512.com.
Dawg Yawp headlines a SXSW send-off show Friday, March 9, at the Woodward Theater with Dayton, Ohio’s This Pine Box (also SXSW-bound) and Lioness.
The band recently posted this tour promo video that includes a snippet of their forthcoming new single, "Lettuce."
• Since debuting its online presence last fall, ElectroRock foursome Passeport has retained a shroud of mystery, which is refreshing in this age where it feels like fans can find out what many of their favorite artists are thinking, feeling and doing at any given time of any given day.
Here, for example, is Passeport’s entire bio:
It’s been said that a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end—but not necessarily in that order. Do we make the music, or does the music make us? It can be those conversations with total strangers that leave you the most fascinated—letting your imagination carry you off to a place you never quite were before. We could talk about us; you could talk about you; but shouldn’t we be talking about each other? If true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing, then it really isn’t about where we’re from — it’s about where we intend to go.
Not to kill too much of the mystique, but the band features former Multimagic members Sebastien Schultz, Brian Davis, Benjamin Hines and Mia Carruthers, who provides vocals (Carruthers and Davies are also a part of the LCD Soundsystem tribute group Dance Yrself Clean). The group made its debut on “On the Run,” a track by L.A. Electronic/Dance producer/DJ/artist NIGHTMRE from his latest EP for Mad Decent, the label founded by Diplo. Passeport followed the collaboration up quickly with its own single, “Blood,” the compelling video for which you can watch below:
• The imaginative Indie/Art Rock project Lung embarks on lengthy tours often and its current jaunt throughout the eastern half of the U.S. features numerous Texas dates, including several throughout SXSW (twice the twosome is playing two sets in one day at the fest). Singer/cellist Kate Wakefield and drummer Daisy Kaplan released the remarkable Bottom of the Barrel album last year and, when they’re home, they've have been hard at work on a follow-up.
• CityBeat recently wrote about Us, Today’s new single, “What is Time Now. Goodmorning?,” the band’s first new music since 2015 and a preview of a new album due later this year. The unique instrumental trio (a mix of Indie, Prog and Post Rock, with elements of Electronica and Fusion) also made a video for the track, which was released through the website for the huge percussion sticks and mallets manufacturer Vic Firth.
Us, Today is doing a few shows on its way to and from its pair of SXSW showcases, and it all kicks off Thursday, March 8 at Mecca in Over-the-Rhine.
• One of the best Rock bands in the Midwest, Frontier Folk Nebraska (who are neither Folk nor… do we really have to keep doing this?), played South By Southwest last year, riding into town in advance of its latest recorded display of soaring Rock & Roll majesty, the Warpig EP (here’s an interview they did before the fest). This year, FFN is headed back to Austin armed with another new EP, Foolish Frank.