Since 1987, if you’ve wanted to hit up South by Southwest, then you’ve needed to visit Austin in Texas. Come October this year, however, that’ll no longer be the case. Across eight days, the acclaimed tech, innovation, music, gaming, screen and culture festival and conference will embark on its first-ever non-US event — and more details about its massive four-day music festival have just dropped.
Unlike your standard music fest in The Domain or Centennial Park, SXSW will be creating a bustling precinct spanning Ultimo, Darling Harbour, Chippendale and Surry Hills, with over 300 performances popping up across 25 different venues. As with the Austin iteration, the festival is all about discovery and catching the next big thing before they’re headlining other festivals, so you’ll find a lineup stacked with local and international talent doing interesting, boundary-pushing things.
Up until this point, you’ve only been able to purchase the festival’s next-level all-access badges. But now, SXSW has unveiled more financially accessible options with the introduction of the music wristband. These passes start from $280 and grant you access to all 300 performances between Wednesday, October 18–Saturday, October 21.
You’ll also be able to pop into the showcases and parties being presented by brands like Laneway Festival, Dr Martens, Vans and Warner Music. And, you’ll be able to hit up the country houses that’ve become synonymous with the Austin festival, including pop-ups from the British Music Embassy and Korean Spotlight.
Some of the notable artist inclusions include frantic Japanese punk group Otoboke Beaver; Denzel Curry and JPEGMAFIA collaborator Redveil; First Nations trailblazers Barkaa, Kobie Dee, Jem Cassar-Daley and Dobby; TikTok sensations Ula and Flyana Boss; Indonesian jazz trio Batavia Collective; plus Dylan Atlantis and Friday*, both of who are members of the Western Sydney music collective Full Circle that were spotlighted in the SBS short film We Just Live Here.
If you’ve been to see the new Australian horror movie that’s taking the world by storm, aka Talk to Me, you would have caught the vocals of one of SXSW Sydney’s artists IJALE opening the film with his song ‘Ducks In a Row’.
And, you can also catch a heap of beloved stalwarts of the Sydney and Australian live music scene as well, like Andy Golledge Band, These New South Whales, Andrew Gurruwiwi Band, Caitlin Harnett and the Pony Boys, and The Terrys.
Expect more artists to be added to the lineup as the fest gets closer. Over in Austin, musicians big and small will often join the program all the way up until the week of the festival.
All of these musicians will be popping up across Sydney venues like The Lansdowne, The Lord Gladstone, Hollywood Hotel, The Civic Underground, The Abercrombie, Phoenix Central Park, The Soda Factory, The Chippo Hotel, the Powerhouse Museum, Sneaky Possum, UTS Underground and Tumbalong Park.
Plus, SXSW Sydney has partnered with the festival Someday Soon, which will be popping up at the University of Sydney on Saturday, October 21 with a stacked program featuring Peach PRC, What So Not, 1300, Northeast Party House, Royal Otis and Sly Withers. Platinum and music badgeholders will be able to attend the affiliate event as part of the week’s festivities.
Basically, you’ll get access to a citywide party, at which established and emerging bands will be filling every stage across four different suburbs for four whole days — all for the price of a standard music festival.
Of course, SXSW isn’t all about the music. There will also be a film festival featuring the world premiere of the documentary Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles; a gaming strand with a massive esport competition and indie game showcase; and a conference with talks from Queer Eye star Tan France, the CEO of Coachella, Osher Günsberg and Layne Beachley.
Each section of the festival has its own wristband system — with the music, screen and games tickets going on sale this Friday, August 25. You can get a full breakdown of the difference between badges and wristbands at the SXSW Sydney website.
SXSW Sydney will run from Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22 at various Sydney venues, with the SXSW Sydney Music Festival running from Wednesday, October 18–Saturday, October 21. Music wristbands go on sale this Friday, August 25, with early bird prices starting at $280.
Top image: Jordan Munns.