FLOODfest at SXSW 2019 Day One: Indie Rock Reigns Under Cloudy Skies

Broken Social Scene, White Denim, Illuminati Hotties, HÆLOS, and MUNYA turned up the heat at the Cedar Street Courtyard.

Rock and roll still works under cloudy skies—who knew?

An unexpected gray descended over Austin and Day One of FLOODfest @ SXSW 2019, but it did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the packed house of party people who descended on the Cedar Street Courtyard for nonstop indie rock. Storm clouds threatened, but never materialized.

Early arrivers were rewarded with the first wave of warm breakfast tacos, providing ample fuel for the otherworldly atmospherics of Montreal’s MUNYA, who charmed the scene with her beguiling and bilingual modern pop. Her engaging new sound was dreamy and blissful, with hints of Beach House and St. Etienne.


Give it up for the Illuminati Hotties! This LA-based crew of fledging rockers hit the ground running and cranked the energy up to a whole new level. Don’t sleep on this band—behind the clever onstage antics and whip-smart banter are a collection of airtight songs that stick around long after the last power chord. Developing!

Illuminati Hotties

FLOODfest isn’t just a rock and roll taco party—the technology side of SXSW was well represented by the presence of innovation experts at Magic Leap. Fans and bands alike went under the headset to experience virtual worlds and immersive reality, featuring high-tech spatial sound developed under the innovative ears of Sigur Rós.

There was energy in abundance when Priests set up shop on the main stage. Charged on raw estrogen power (and a male on guitar who wasn’t too shabby), the D.C. crew kept it real and wild, showcasing some new songs in the set. Post-punk to the max, with echoes of Siouxsie and Savages in their raucous rush.


HÆLOS brought a singular and necessary drama to the proceedings, a cinematic foil to the earthier sonic tones of the afternoon. Hitting Austin directly from the UK, singer Lotti Benardout led the band through the gauzy, symphonic trip-hop tones of songs including “Oracle.” The band’s shadowy sound matched the ominous weather overhead, setting the stage for the visceral emotion that was soon to follow.


White Denim hit the stage as conquering hometown heroes, cranking everything up to ten and charging through a fiery set of rock and roll. With the chops to spin out into mind-bending jams, the band kept it high and tight instead, hammering out laser-focused melodies with classic rock aesthetics.

White Denim

Indie rock legends Broken Social Scene more than lived up to their status with an uplifting, life-affirming set to a packed house of diehard fans. The expansive band trotted out some new tunes from their latest EP, Let’s Try The After (Vol. 1), including “Can’t Find My Heart” and “1972.” Singer Ariel Engle brought a shimmering energy to the bombastic rock proceedings, an ideal foil to Kevin Drew’s rough edges.

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene’s good vibes and positive energy were enough to generate the first rays of sunshine of the day. Never underestimate the power of indie rock.

Day One of FLOODfest @ SXSW 2019 was definitely a party. Next stop: Day Two, featuring a momentous and historic reunion of Atlanta hip-hop legends, Dungeon Family. Stay tuned. FL

Check out more photos from Day 1 of FLOODfest 2019 below.

SXSW 2019 coverage: Day 1 ⋅ Day 2 ⋅ The Portraits


We won’t spam you. Promise.