Ten Must-Catch Gigs at the Inaugural SXSW Sydney's Massive Music Festival

SXSW Sydney has served up an absolutely huge music lineup, so we've broken down all the must-see sets for you.
Ben Hansen
Published on October 12, 2023

SXSW has never left Austin until this year. For the first time ever, a second iteration of the world-renowned music, screen, gaming, tech and ideas festival is popping up — and it's landed all the way over in Sydney. Running between Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22, the first SXSW Sydney has produced a huge lineup with hundreds of musicians performing across Surry Hills, Ultimo, Chippendale, Darling Harbour and Haymarket.

The American iteration is known for breaking the next big thing and, following that trend, a who's who of Australian and international up and comers make up a bulk of the lineup — with the intention that you'll wander through the festival precinct each day and stumble upon a healthy mix of acts you know and love, as well as your next great music discovery.

There are soon-to-be superstars with co-signs from the biggest names in music, free dance parties in Tumbalong Park, a huge takeover of Powerhouse Museum, hidden parties in abandoned cinemas and Chinatown restaurants, and an 11-year-old Australian rap prodigy.

If this all seems like a lot, don't worry — we've got you. Here are ten gigs you should have at the top of your list if you're heading to the festival.



If you're around on Sunday, October 15, then head down to Tumbalong Park as SXSW Sydney kicks off the entire festival with a series of free events. Local funk and house producer Harvey Sutherland will be making an appearance at 8pm for a special one-off festival set that's free for everyone to attend.

The Tumbalong Park program will stretch on through the whole week, so don't make a visit here a one-and-done affair. Also on offer: an outdoor cinema featuring classic films that have premiered at SXSW Austin over the years, an onstage discussion between Adam Spencer and Dr Karl, and a massive Suntory -196 vending machine which will function as a rooftop bar.



He's already collaborated with Denzel Curry and JPEGMafia, and he's been shouted out by Tyler, the Creator and Pusha T — and he's only 19. Maryland rapper Redveil is heading to Australia for two sets at SXSW Sydney.

You can catch his unique alternate hip hop stylings at the House of Vans, located at UTS Underground on Wednesday, October 18, and then at Phoenix Central Park at 8pm on Friday, October 20. Get in line early for his Friday set — it's sure to be a special one at the extremely intimate Chippendale venue.


Barkaa, Luke Currie Richardson


The abandoned Chinatown cinema that hosted the beloved summer arts and music venue Pleasures Playhouse is being revived for SXSW Sydney — and the equally beloved community radio station FBi Radio is taking it over for a one-night party. The Haymarket space will host a stacked lineup of Australian talent spanning a heap of different genres on Thursday, October 19 from 7–11.50pm.

Iconic Malyangapa and Barkindji rapper Barkaa leads the lineup alongside the psych-pop of Skeleten, future reggaeton superstar Lamira, the self-proclaimed 'Blak Britney' Miss Kaninna and the punk-hip hop hybrid duo Bract and Bayang (the Bushranger). It's an eclectic mix (as is customary with FBi Radio), and it's coming to one of the city's most interesting arts spaces.



If you've been hearing the words "hello christ, I'm 'bout to sin again" all over your TikTok feeds, these are artists responsible. Flyana Boss is a US hip hop duo who have seen a wave of success from that viral moment, including a remix of that song 'You Wish' featuring none other than Missy Elliot.

The pair of multi-instrumentalists and rappers will be kicking off the whole music festival alongside Ekkstacy on Tuesday, October 17 at the opening night celebrations — hosted at The Starship on the Convention Jetty. If you miss out on this set, you can also find them performing at the House of Vans at UTS Underground at 11.20pm on Wednesday, October 18.



Powerhouse Late is being given the SXSW Sydney treatment with a showcase of some of the program's most exciting artists — and best of all, this one's open to everyone no whether you've got a pass to the festival or not.

From 5–9pm on Thursday, October 19, you can catch sets from hugely popular Indonesian singer-songwriter Isyana Sarasvati, South Korean synth-pop group ADOY and Aussie rockers Dust on Stage One. Stage two will welcome rising local musos Tiffi, POOKIE, Big Skeez and SUPEREGO, while stage three will host electronic artists Nuum, Moss and Sonic Mutations in their debut live performance.



If one of your goals for the festival is to catch a local Sydney artist before they blow up, make sure you attend one of FRIDAY*'s sets. Alongside fellow SXSW artists Dylan Atlantis and Zion Garcia, as well as Sollyy and Breakfast Road, FRIDAY* is part of the bustling Western Sydney music collective recently spotlighted in the SBS short film We Just Live Here.

The melodic singer-songwriter effortlessly blends pop with genres like R&B, UKG and folk. You can catch these sonic melting pots on stage at the Hollywood Hotel on Thursday, October 19; UTS Underground on Friday, October 19; and Mulan Music Restaurant on Saturday, October 20.


Otoboke Beaver by Mayumi Hirata


Japanese punk quartet Otoboke Beaver is hitting Australia for three SXSW Sydney sets, bringing their ferocious guitars to stages across Sydney. This one's not to be missed for any fans of rock music or anyone looking to experience something you won't see anywhere else in Australia this year.

On Thursday, October 19 the band is playing a late-night set at The Soda Factory in Surry Hills, followed by a set at UTS Underground the next day. Then, rounding out their trio of shows for the week, you can catch them at The Factory Theatre's outdoor stage on Saturday afternoon.



Before it returns for its stacked 2024 festival with Stormzy, Dominic Fike and Steve Lacy, Laneway is throwing a SXSW party in a Chinatown restaurant. Mulan Music Restaurant and Bar on the corner of Dixon Street is known for its neon-lit stage and spicy seafood, but during the eight-day festival it'll be hosting a heap of gigs.

Laneway's takeover is happening from 6pm on Wednesday, October 18 with a lineup of up and comers from Australia and abroad. If you were around for the height of the indie-dance era circa 2004, you'll want to check out Fcukers, who are bringing back the sound of bands like The Rapture and Hot Chip. Pop singer Cody Jon and Melbourne art-punk group Gut Health are also on the lineup, alongside Miss Kaninna, Will Swinton and RAVVE TAPES.



Another one for those looking to catch the next big thing: Western Australia's Inkabee is already killing it at the age of 11. All you have to do is watch his freestyle on Triple J's Bars of Steel with his dad, aka rapper and activist Flewnt, to see the huge potential this kid has.

You can catch Inkabee on the mic at APRA AMCOS on Friday, October 20, and then downstairs at The Lord Gladstone on Saturday, October 21.


Michael Cole


SXSW Sydney has teamed up with The University of Sydney's Someday Soon to give attendees the chance to attend this festival popping up in the event precinct. Head to Manning Bar on Saturday, October 21 and you'll be treated to a lineup featuring What So Not, Peach PRC, 1300, Sly Withers, Northeast Party House, Royal Otis and Sweden's Kornél Kovács.

The festival will feature three stages stretched across the two levels and outdoor areas of Manning Bar. A reserved number of tickets for Someday Soon are available exclusively for SXSW Sydney Platinum Badge holders, Music Badge holders and Music Festival Wristband holders on a first-come-first-serve basis — so head down early to guarantee your spot.


SXSW Sydney runs from Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22 at various Sydney venues. Head to the SXSW Sydney website for further details.

Top image: Brittany Hallberg.

Published on October 12, 2023 by Ben Hansen
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