Once upon a time, the success of Canadian indie musicians at SXSW music festival in Austin, TX was news. The rise of Broken Social Scene, The Constantines, Metric, Stars and their ilk was often traced to a series of hype-building showcases down south that introduced our northern rockers to the rest of the world.
Flash forward a decade and SXSW is kicking off its 27th annual music festival with a series of showcases and parties that just happen to be headlined by Canadians, though the names on their passports no longer matters.
Media Temple’s big Interactive closing party, intended to embed the web-hosting company’s “dedication to creativity and innovation” in the brains of drunken partygoers, boasts an unprecedented joint-DJ set between techno legend Richie Hawtin and EDM impresario Deadmau5, both of whom are also doing a panel session earlier in the day to talk tech. That they're from Windsor and Toronto, respectively, is irrelevant to their global domination.
Over at the Vice party — a company begun by Canadians in Montreal, of course — the big guns are Vancouver noise-rock duo Japandroids and Divine Fits, a supergroup made up of Montrealer Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs, Wolf Parade) and Britt Daniels of Austin superstars Spoon. (To up their Canuck quotient, Divine Fits are also playing a Cirque de Soleil show.)
Canadian twin sisters Tegan and Sara, one of the biggest indie-pop acts anywhere, are headlining the iHeartRadio showcase at The Main, with “Thriftshop” hitmakers Mackelmore & Lewis several spots lower down the bill. Buzz acts like Toronto disco-tech outfit Azari & III and Montreal’s Blue Hawaii (who share a label with the city’s indie hero Grimes) are here, and there’s also an all-Canadian Bonsound/Scene 1425 bill with bands like Montreal’s Peter Peter, Charlottetown’s Paper Lions and Raosaireieville, NB’s Lisa Leblanc. Then there’s a nerdcore hip-hop showcase with Toronto’s More or Les and Wordburglar.
This is all before Wednesday’s traditional Canadian Blast BBQ kicks off the festival proper with performances across the street from the Austin Convention Center featuring Hannah Georgas, Paper Lions, Rah Rah, Daniel Romano, Serena Ryder and Hey Ocean. Then there’s “Canada House” with day parties and night showcases, not to mention showcases scattered across the city organized by Pop Montreal, I’m From Montreal, Planete Quebec, Halifax Pop Explosion, Arts & Crafts, Breakout West and more.
All told, 135 or so Canadian acts are performing god knows how many times over the five-day festival, which is cool and all. But it’s not news, not anymore. It just is.