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Why SXSW Matters: The Best Of What We Saw, 2017

Clockwise from upper left: Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Fragile Rock (an emo puppet band), Lizzo, Aldous Harding, Allison Crutchfield, Anna Meredith
Clockwise from upper left: Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Fragile Rock (an emo puppet band), Lizzo, Aldous Harding, Allison Crutchfield, Anna Meredith

SXSW isn't a rock festival, a hip-hop festival or a global music festival — it's a big bundle of everything rolled into five spring-warm Texas days. For artists, the choice to attend can be an expensive risk, traveling from Taiwan, Mebourne, Brixton, Brazil, or Italy hoping to be seen and heard. But sometimes it pays off. We go there to find music we're unlikely to see in our own backyard, find something thrilling, then shout out our fervent support.

On this edition of All Songs Considered, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and I talk about the things we're most excited about following our time in Austin. From the ecstatic music of Britain's Anna Meredith, the dark and alluring work of New Zealand's Aldous Harding, the genuine joy of Bogota's Tribu Baharú, the provocative and fearless soul of Lizzo or simply puppets from Austin (yes, they even crowd surfed), what we hear at SXSW often serves as a signpost for the year ahead.

We also revisit our own showcase in Austin: Watch concerts from PWR BTTM, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Lizzo, and Big Thief. (One more set from NPR Music's showcase is on the way.)

We also shared some personal moments with bands amidst all the craziness — I urge you to take time and watch our escape from the madness with intimate sessions from Nina Diaz & Luz Elena Mendoza, L.A. Salami, Let's Eat Grandma, Valerie June and Jealous Of The Birds (and a couple more still to come) for our South X Lullabies series. — Bob Boilen

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