SXSW 2016: Breakout Movies and Music

For ten days this month (March 11-20), the epicenter of tech, film and music will be in Austin, Texas as the 30th annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference kicks off in grand fashion with a keynote address from none other than President Obama. This convergence of pop culture, independent entrepreneurship and emerging technology makes SWSW the premiere destination for discovery. Thus, it’s no surprise that this is THE place to fall in love with that indie film circuit darling or call dibs on the breakout band of 2016. Here are some can’t-miss movie and music attractions you will be Tweeting about. Let the humble-bragging begin!!!


Everybody Wants Some
Richard Linklater’s follow-up to his critically-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Boyhood, rightfully opens the 23rd SXSW film festival on 3/11. The native son’s highly-anticipated sports comedy-drama takes it back to the eighties, following a group of hard-partying, skirt chasing, weed puffing and existential philosophizing (a Linklater trademark) college baseball players on an epic weekend. The writer/director has described Everybody Wants Some as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, which sounds a lot better than his other baseball movie, The Bad News Bears remake.

Hardcore Henry
If you haven’t seen the batshit-insane trailer to Hardcore Henry stop reading this and DO IT NOW. Done? Puts the “hard” in hardcore, right? Writer/director Ilya Naishuller’s first-person action film makes those extreme sports’ GoPro videos look like a Kiera Knightly period piece. The ground-breaking film, which screens at the Paramount Theatre on 3/13, looks and feels like a video game come to life as YOU, see, hear and experience this world through the hero, Henry, a cyborg, hitman, okay who cares about characters? All you need to know is that you get to blast bad guys, blow shit up, race a motorcycle and fall from a helicopter, so it’s gonna be worth the eventual headache.

Midnight Special
American auteur Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) is a film festival favorite, who delivers character-driven dramas hidden inside genre movies. His latest, Midnight Special, ups the stakes in budget and movie stars, with a throwback to ‘80s cult flicks a la Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Christine. The sci-fi/thriller, which makes its stateside debut at the Paramount Theatre on 3/12, is about a father going on the run to protect his young son and uncover the truth behind the boy’s special powers.

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday
After a successful Broadway comeback a couple years ago, Pee-Wee Herman is back for another big-screen adventure. The Judd Apatow-produced road-trip comedy’s world premiere is set for 3/17 at the Paramount Theatre, and features a story where Pee-Wee has a run-in with a mysterious stranger which sparks him to take his first-ever holiday. Sounds like a long, strange trip. Expect more of the wacky humor that made his shows (and the nostalgia) so popular.


AlunaGeorge is (finally) ready for their close-up with a headlining gig at Hype Hotel on 3/16. Singer and lyricist Aluna Francis (along with producer George Reid) have been at the center of dance music collaborations with the likes of Disclosure, Jack U and DJ Snake, lending Aluna’s enchanting vocals to top of the chart hits, but never receiving top-billing. That will change with a forthcoming album and tour that takes a soulful, pop-leaning approach to downtempo dance, experimental R&B and old-school dancehall.

Crystal Castles
The death of Crystal Castles has been greatly exaggerated or has it? The dark, experimental electro-pop project of songwriter/producer Ethan Kath was thought to be DOA after long-time front-woman Alice Glass left to pursue a solo career. The plot thickened after Crystal Castles recently released a new single, Frail, that sounded eerily like Glass singing. Reddit conspiracy theorists suggested that it was in actuality Kath disguising his voice to sound female, but he insisted it was new singer Edit Frances, who mysteriously has no online footprint. See for yourself if Frances is real or not as they’re scheduled to perform live at SXSW at Stubb’s 3/18.

Sofi Tukker
Mark our words, the New York dance duo’s set at 3Ten on 3/16 will be the talk of SXSW. Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern came from nowhere to top the Spotify charts with their hit single, Drinkee, a Portuguese-laced, feel good track that’s more infectious than the Zika virus. They’re set to release their debut EP, Soft Animals, which includes a forthcoming global tour, so catch them now before they appear on an Apple commercial. Oops! Too late. Yes, that’s them on the latest iWatch ad.

MC Lars
The Oakland rapper is the self-proclaimed OG of "post-punk laptop rap.” A kindred spirit of "Weird Al" Yankovic (whom he collaborates on a track with), MC Lars looks like Tosh.0 and flows like Edgar Allen Poe (see what we did there?), slinging LOL rhymes — “Summertime and promoters get sleazy, summertime, corporate bands get greedy,” from the too-true “Sublime With Rome (Is Not the Same Thing as Sublime).” The wry, Stanford alumnus, samples from out-of-the-box bands like Supergrass, Fugazi and Iggy Pop, while using lyrics and song titles based on English and American literature. Let him re-educate you at Karma Lounge on 3/19.

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