This week, South by Southwest (SXSW) – the Austin-born festival of music and ideas – launches its Sydney edition. Until October 22, it’ll see local and international acts popping up in pubs and music venues, sustainability-powered conversations on travel and culture, and films making their world premieres.
It’s been announced that the festival’s annual Asia-Pacific instalment will have a forever home in Sydney. And local brewery Young Henrys is the official 2023 music and beer partner, supplying bars across the bumper program.
Broadsheet had a chat with Young Henrys co-founder Oscar McMahon – who, funnily enough, played in rock’n’roll band Hell City Glamours at the 2009 SXSW in Austin – getting his intel on the festival’s unmissable gigs and where he’s heading for a sip. Plus, his top picks of Sydney’s restaurants.
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Oscar, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a born and bred Sydneysider, now residing in the wonderful town of Thirroul. I attended Newtown high school and Enmore Design Centre, which embedded a deep love of the inner west and taught me about the value of celebrating my own individuality and self-expression – and that of those around me.
I found a real love for craft beer through working in hospitality and travelling in a band. All that led to me and some friends starting Young Henrys Brewing in 2012 – a company that I truly love and that allows me to stay deeply in touch with the inner-west community, the live-music scene as well as the Australian hospitality scene.
What do you love most about Sydney?
The breadth of experience that it offers anyone who lives, works or visits: the harbour; the beaches; the restaurants; the pubs, bars and nightlife; the museums and art institutions; the bands, artists and musicians. Sydney is both big and small at the same time. Yes, it has some internationally recognised big shiny things, but it also has real grit, heart and a thriving grassroots scene.
How is the Young Henrys team feeling about SXSW hitting the city?
We are excited. We want to see this city come alive, we want to be challenged and inspired by new artists and ideas, and we want to see the long-term positive effect that international focus can have on our culture, industries and nightlife.
What SXSW sessions are you most looking forward to?
I’m as excited about some of the talks on sustainability and industrial progression as I am about the music showcases. I am heading to a lot of gigs though. Velvet Trip is a Sydney band that does psychedelic music. They’re hitting the Hollywood on Wednesday.
I’m keen for Otoboke Beaver – the punk-rock band from Kyoto – on Friday night. They’re incredible. I’m seeing New York artist Rett Smith on Thursday and the Andrew Gurruwiwi Band – who make dance-y hits and are based in Arnhem Land – on Friday too.
Let’s do this, people. It’s year one, you’ll want to tell your mates you were there, so may as well make it the truth.
Sydney’s most underrated spot?
Dive-y Enmore Road bar The Midnight Special.