Faye Webster Closes Rolling Stone’s Future of Music Showcase With Late-Night Pedal-Steel Bliss

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Faye Webster - Credit: Dusana Risovic for Rolling Stone
Faye Webster - Credit: Dusana Risovic for Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone’s Future of Music showcase has brought an array of genres to the Moody Theater in Austin over four nights, from hip-hop to música mexicana, urbano to Afrobeats, and beyond. The final night was all about guitars, bringing together acts from indie rock, country, and more who love the instrument. And for Faye Webster, that instrument is pedal steel guitar in particular.

The Night Four headliner’s Rolling Stone digital cover story explored her sound — a unique blend of indie rock, R&B slow burners, and wistful folk — and Webster and her bandmates delivered that to listeners on a bed of serene pedal steel, played by her longtime guitarist Matt “Pistol” Stoessel. Webster’s music is so distinct that even Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy had a hard time pinning it down. “Is it coming at country music from a weird angle, or is it coming at soul music from a weird angle?” he asked. “She’s using instrumentation and elements that don’t traditionally relate to each other, [but] it all fits together for her. She doesn’t seem to get that there are divisions she’s crossing. There’s no contrivance as to where she’s drawing influences from — it’s just literally what she likes.”

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Ahead of a tour with Slash, Austin native Jackie Venson kicked off the showcase with some bluesy psychedelic rock to set the vibe. She shredded her guitar on tracks like “All the Crazy Things,” “‘Rollin’ On,” “Don’t Lie to Me,” “Keep On,” and more. The highlight was the mesmerizing “Back to Earth,” recently featured in a Cadillac commercial. She hilariously glossed over this fact, while turning “I’m actually from Austin” into a bit.  “So, I’m going to be hanging outside with my mom at the merch table,” she said. “I told you I’m from here, man. My mom is literally here. And she has a merch assistant, he’s a man named Bob. He delivered me. Like, 34 years ago he was like, ‘Hey, come on out.’ So like literally, I’m from here. Like, I mean it.”

Another Austinite then took the stage. Dylan Gossett hasn’t even been releasing music for a year (he first dropped a Lumineers cover on TikTok in April 2023) but he already has a major following, having recently signed with Universal Music Publishing Nashville. The crowd at the Moody wore light-up cowboy hats and took videos, singing along to Gossett’s unique blend of Texas country and Americana. Highlights included his wedding song “Beneath Oak Trees,” “Bitter Winds,” and his breakthrough hit “Coal.” Gossett also played his recent single “Somewhere Between,” off his new EP Songs in the Gravel, which arrives next week.

hinds rolling stone future of music sxsw

If they didn’t announce it onstage, you’d have no idea that Madrid duo Hinds were about to perform their 12th of 15 shows at SXSW. They bring the energy of a thousand rock bands, entrancing the crowd with their searing indie riffs, the constant interlocking of guitars and smiles, and deeply charming banter. Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote blasted through their recent single “Coffee” and some new material, as well as catalog stunners like “New For You,” “The Club,” and “Riding Solo.”

They dedicated their punk rock kiss-off “Just Like Kids (Miau)” to all the young women in the crowd, while discussing their own treatment in the music industry. “We wrote it after a lot of experience in this music world and a lot of journalists asking us, ‘How do you tour when you’re a woman? Do you really write the songs?’’ Cosials said. “Yeah, we do!” They closed out with a raucous cover of the Clash classic “Spanish Bombs.” 

The Red Clay Strays are in a brief, ultra-specific moment in time for their career, when their unexpected hit is more well-known than their own band name. “Wondering Why” was released in 2022 but went viral on TikTok last winter, giving the band their first Billboard Hot 100 hit. It currently has over 75 million streams on Spotify, and it showed at the Moody, where a sea of phones lit up to capture this sweet red dirt love song. “And I don’t know what happened/But it sure don’t add up on paper,” Brandon Coleman sang, wearing black converse and pompadour hair as hundreds of fans chanted along. “But when I close my eyes late at night/You can bet I thank my maker.”

The Mobile, Alabama band arrived onstage to Norman Greenbaum’s boogie-rock anthem “Spirit in the Sky,” letting everyone know they’ve got a friend in Jesus. The song choice is fitting, considering the band recently spoke to Rolling Stone about their faith. “God has come through in many different ways,” Coleman said, while Zach Rishel added, “We all feel super led. This is what we’re here to do — there’s no other purpose more important in our lives than making this band the biggest and best thing it can be.”

red clay strays rolling stone sxsw future of music
Red Clay Strays

Like the Red Clay Strays, Faye Webster has also seen her songs increase in popularity on TikTok well after she released them. This includes 2019’s “Kingston,” from the now-classic Atlanta Millionaires Club, and “In a Good Way,” from 2021’s I Know I’m Funny Haha. Webster played both of these in her set, while sprinkling tracks from her brand new record, Underdressed at the Symphony. Webster and her bandmates grooved through the set, stretching out “Jonny” into “Jonny (Reprise)” and playing such a potently chill “Thinking About You” that wafts of weed drifted through the air.

Webster doesn’t usually talk much during her shows, but she took the time to say a few meaningful words before it started, standing in front of a gigantic bust of herself. While she addressed her hometown of Atlanta and the Stop Cop City movement, a majority of her statement regarded SXSW’s controversial relationship with the U.S. Army and her support of the Palestinian people, joining a chorus of discussion and critique at SXSW 2024.

As usual, Webster said it best: “I just wanted to say before the show begins — we’re very happy to be here and to be able to play music and for you guys showing up for us. But I also feel uncomfortable and conflicted being here. There’s a lot of artists that I admire and respect that have dropped their official South By showcases, and I wanted to say that we do not support war profiteers …Cop City will never be built, and free Palestine. Thank you.”

(Full disclosure: In 2021, Rolling Stone’s parent company, P-MRC, acquired a 50 percent stake in the SXSW festival.)

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