The Best of Asia at SXSW Music


Yahyel

The Fur.

Wed. 13, Elysium, 8pm
Fans of Mitski and Japanese Breakfast should run (not walk) to Spotify and favorite this Taiwanese dream-pop trio. New wave synth pads give tunes an Eighties sleepover vibe, but it's not an all-electronic nostalgia play. Shoegaze textures and lazy afternoon guitar lines mark the tunes with an overcast atmosphere, and vocalist Yu Wen Liao (aka Savanna) sounds effortless in the very best way. This is their first U.S. appearance.

Jambinai

Wed. 13, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 8pm; Thu. 14, Palm Door on Sabine, 1am
Ever heard hardcore haegeum? Metal piri? How about grunge geomungo? Jambinai uses these traditional Korean instruments (fiddle, bamboo flute, zither) to compose angsty rock music that would've sounded at home next to Korn on a late-Nineties episode of TRL. An experimental streak puts them closer to Godspeed than Godsmack, and tunes like "Connection" could easily pass for ethereal Explosions in the Sky B-sides.

Chiu Pi

Wed. 13, Elysium, 10pm
On single "Heavy Rain All Night," Chiu Pi walks on water. The video shows the multi-disciplinary Taipei artist, whose prolific output includes 19 albums and a science-fiction book, performing martial arts on a landscape of slo-mo water splashes while whispering over a gentle piano line and drum machine pulse. Subtle string melodies embellish much of his work, bringing to mind bedroom-sized versions of Sigur Rós's Icelandic epics.

Linying

Wed. 13, Townsend, 10pm
Singapore hit "Sticky Leaves" from Linying showcases her soaring Adele pipes over a pensive piano backdrop that will perk the ears of Bon Iver fans. Thanks to her signing with Universal Music Singapore, the tune scored a Billboard premiere and racked up 6 million streams. And she earns versatility bonus points for propelling house tunes by superstars like Belgium's Lost Frequencies to the next level.

Hitchhiker

Wed. 13, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 10:30pm
Dressed in what looks like a cross between a hazmat suit and a disco ball, behind-the-scenes K-pop producer DJ Jinu (born Choi Jin-woo) takes center stage under his hard-hitting EDM moniker, Hitchhiker. Synths rattle like rusty bed springs, the obligatory big room bleep-bloops magnetize hips, and chopped English vocals give it an uncanny American energy that sounds like porn made for the Electric Daisy Carnival crowd.

Faded Ghost

Thu. 14, Pour Choices, 10:35pm; Fri. 15, Hideout, 9pm
Shanghai's ChaCha Yehaiyahan grinds sinister field recordings against each other like sonic seismic plates, providing the backdrop for night-terror vocals processed through an arsenal of effects. It's best served on headphones, but she's equally skilled at manipulating dance floors by weaving experimental club bangers into her Scenery:Shanghai sets, which stream monthly on RBMA Radio. (Look also for Thursday's more bass-heavy performance, listed under her surname.)

Yahyel

Wed. 13, Scratchouse, 11pm; Thu. 14, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, 12mid; Fri. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 11pm
Yahyel makes music for Mr. Robot-style cyberattacks on stock markets via dystopian cyberpunk that sounds like a downward spiral. They scored a No. 1 hit on Apple Music Japan's electro charts with 2018 album Human, a cacophonous combination of jagged rock energy, electronica undertones, and Weeknd-esque sing-sobbing. Check their video for "TAO," which features four minutes of a dead body being dragged across the floor before a Refused-style thrash session.

JP the Wavy

Fri. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 8pm; Sat. 16, the Main II, 1:25am
Fans of Asian hip-hop may have memorized label 88rising's lineup, but they're hardly the only name in the booming Asian rap scene. JP the Wavy, repping Shonan, rocketed to the top of the iTunes hip-hop chart with "Cho Wavy De Gomenne" ("Sorry, I'm Super Wavy"), a trap anthem that sounds like it could just as easily be from Atlanta as Japan. And JP will likely don the rarest streetwear at SXSW.

Colde

Fri. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 12mid
Scoring a hit alongside SXSW 2018 Korea Spotlight alum Crush, Colde's lovelorn R&B hits that sweet spot between SZA and Frank Ocean. It's music to chill to, smoke to, and cry to. Unlike most of his K-pop counterparts, this isn't candy-painted pop production, but rather has the charm of an auteurist GarageBand master. Don't be surprised if you have trouble hearing him over the hordes of swooning fans.


DEEPER INTO THE ORIENT

David Boring

Wed. 13, Valhalla, 11pm; Thu. 14, Dirty Dog Bar, 8pm
Gritty and violent, fuzzed-out No Wave from Hong Kong.

EggPlantEgg

Wed. 13, Elysium, 1am
Taiwanese indie pop Best Album winners at the Golden Melody Awards, so expect a huge crowd.

Chai

Thu. 14, Container Bar, 2pm; Thu. 14, Cheer Up Charlies, 1:05am; Fri. 15, Native Hostel, 9:50pm; Sat, 16, Hotel Vegas Patio, 7:15pm
Chaotic Burger Records signee mixes Tom Tom Club and Basement Jaxx.

Asterism

Fri. 15, Elysium, 8pm
Three monstrously heavy metal teenagers from Fukuoka.

Regallily

Fri. 15, Elysium, 11pm
Tokyo female threepiece making twee shoegaze.

The Perfect Me

Fri. 15, Elysium, 12mid
Interpol if were they born and raised in Japan.

Ex-Girl

Fri. 15, Elysium, 1am
Nineties Japanese performance art troupe reunites.

New Fame

Sat. 16, the Main II, 10pm
Hustling Vietnamese female hip-hop duo who've played over 1,400 shows.

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