Shows We Went To: Southwest Invasion at SXSW

by Hannah Wriston

Southwest Invasion 2017

There’s a certain energy in the air on the rooftop of Whole Foods. Perhaps it’s because it’s the last weekend of SXSW and nobody’s sure where the night will lead. Lindsay Troy and Julie Edwards of Deap Vally take the stage and start ripping through their set with a feverish intensity. It’s a fantastic mix of Edward’s rapid-fire drums, and Troy’s wailing guitar and vocals.

Just after Troy finishes a chorus the speakers make a small pop. She wheels way, still strumming the refrain on her Fender Mustang. She moves closer to Edwards and tells her something away from the microphone before continuing on with the song. Troy moves around the stage freely, only hovering close enough for the next line before dancing away.

When the song ends the sound crew quickly sweeps in, and replaces the mic. Troy laughs and tells the crowd that she was just electrocuted. “My teeth are buzzing! Man, who needs coffee after that?”

Still, after the equipment has been patched in, Deap Vally continues and kills the rest of their set with a ferocity that’s rare to find.

Deap Vally

Lindsay Troy of Deap Vally at Southwest Invasion. Photo by Clayton Hodges.


Whole Foods has been holding the Southwest Invasion event for the past 5 years, and it’s an excellent outdoor venue to kick back and listen to some great music. The line up starts around noon and the last band goes on around six which gives you plenty of time to get downtown and plan your evening.

There are several tents selling craft beers and food, but for the cheapskate in all of us there were some freebies too. Several sponsors were handing out samples of coconut water and stevia sweetened sodas. The Clif Bar stall was creating complementary records from recycled plastic plates with singles from some of the bands performing at Southwest Invasion. I picked up one with Deap Vally’s “Heart is an Animal.” The plastic minorly alters the sound and makes it a little more prone to picking up static and distortion but it works well with their heavy music.

There are just as many up and comers as established acts, and the event is free with an RSVP. Several artists have headlined in years past, including the Lumineers and Imagine Dragons. This year Hanson took that spot on Saturday, and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t heard of them creating anything new in over a decade. I was excited to see how they had evolved as a band, or at the very least I was looking forward to reverting to my pre-pubescent years.


Hanson, all grown up at Southwest Invasion. Photo by Clayton Hodges.

The line for Hanson went down the outside staircase and looped around the front almost reaching the parking lot entrance thirty minutes before the show. People were packed in, standing where they could, holding up phones to snap a photo or catch a glimpse above the crowd.The woman in front of me apologized in advance because she was going to be singing along the whole time. It’s refreshing to see that level of excitement when in the “hipper” music scenes some audiences feel like a nod is enough to express what you think of the show.

As soon as Hanson steps up to the stage the crowd cheers enthusiastically.They began with several songs from their newest album “Anthem”. Now they’re more influenced by blues and early rock, though they fall on the family-friendly side of the scale. In honor of Chuck Berry’s passing they played an excellent cover of “Johnny B. Goode.” Their music is easy to move along to and fun.

Personally, I hate the idea of compartmentalizing personal taste into guilty pleasures. Isn’t it cooler to like something because you like it without feeling the need have validation from other people? Maybe, just maybe– it’s okay to dig for underground artists, analyze lyrics, get into arguments about which artist is empirically better and almost lose your voice singing along to “Mmm Bop.” 
Thankfully, at the Southwest Invasion event you can do both.