International Spotlight: Round One Bands from Obscure Lands

Written by Rory Burbeck | November 13, 2013

Taj Weekes will be at SXSW 2014

At SXSW 2013, more than 2,000 bands from around the world performed here in Austin, and you should expect the same for 2014. Although many of these acts originated in the United States or major European countries, one of the things SXSW takes pride in is the fact that we showcase bands from every corner of the globe. Japan Nite and the British Music Embassy are just two noteworthy international showcases that incorporate bands from those respective countries. But one of the best parts of the SXSW experience is discovering artists from obscure and relatively unknown nations. These are the bands that often inspire us with their stories and willingness to experiment with new sounds.

Two bands hailing from the island nation of Taiwan were announced in Round One of SXSW 2014 Showcasing Artists: upbeat rockers WonFu and post-rock outfit Bugs of Phonon. If you’re having an off-day, WonFu is the band you should listen to: They immediately put a smile on my face when I heard their ‘60s-inspired surf rock for the first time. The more laid-back post-rock by Bugs of Phonon, on the other hand, may not exactly brighten your day, but these guys are a must-listen for fans of Explosions in the Sky or Maserati.

The classic rock-influenced Sigmun will be travelling to Austin in March all the way from Bandung, Indonesia for their first SXSW showcase. If you’re a fan of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, this band needs to be on your schedule. Sigmun is not a carbon copy of either legendary band by any means, and that’s what makes them great. They’re developing their own sound while incorporating everything we love about rock ‘n’ roll: soaring vocals, guitar solos, and a heavy wall of sound.

Nive Nielsen, folk singer and native of Greenland, is one of the more intriguing acts that will be performing at SXSW 2014. According to her website biography, the first show she ever played was for the queen of Denmark on national television. She’ll be in Austin this March with her band, the Deer Children, whose music is a pleasure to listen to. The blend of Nive’s warm vocals, laid-back guitars, piano, and minimalist drums creates the perfect winter soundtrack.

For those of you seeking a more Caribbean-infused sound, Taj Weekes & Adowa should be on your list. This band, from Saint Lucia, has created a genuinely vibrant and upbeat reggae sound that’s just plain fun to listen to. Their music carries a strong social message that does not detract from the listening experience.

See the list of SXSW 2014 Round One bands from obscure lands below and get a preview of some of the amazing music coming to SXSW from the more remote regions of the globe. Check back throughout the season as we bring you more SXSW Music Festival previews.

Bugs of Phonon (Tainan TAIWAN)
WonFu (Taipei TAIWAN)
The Great Wilderness (San Jose COSTA RICA)
Kira Kira (Mosfellsbær ICELAND)
Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children (Nuuk DENMARK)
Pompeya (Moscow RUSSIA)
Sigmun (Bandung INDONESIA)
Dudu Tassa (Tel Aviv ISRAEL)
Kristian Terzic Band (Rovinj CROATIA)
Taj Weekes & Adowa (Castries SAINT LUCIA)

Taj Weekes is a SXSW 2014 Showcasing Artist. Photo Courtesy of Taj Weekes & Adowa.