SXSW is nearly upon us! Less than two weeks from now, Austin will be inundated with tens of thousands of music lovers of all creeds and sensibilities. For the better part of a week, every single venue, bar, coffee shop, grocery store, and bbq joint in the entire city will have a stage set up to showcase the hundreds of musicians who flock to the city to show off their chops.
We aren't kidding. There is some sort of performance going on everywhere you can think of. As a result, the first difficulty of this festival is the massive amount of time you must spend sleuthing until you find out where you can catch all the acts you want to see. The second difficulty is a physical one; will your feet hold up to the marathon of miles you will subject them to? The third, and most subtle is the battle in your noggin; can you overcome the mental fatigue that comes with watching so much music in a week?
Let's address these points in no particular order. Your feet will be tired, so buy good sneakers and break them in this week. With respect to the cerebral, we recommend adopting a mantra for your brain to chew on while you're shuffling between the venues. Maybe something simple like: "I have more energy inside myself." Rinse, repeat, get your ass to the next show. Now, where all will you be going in the first place? Well, that's actually something we can help you with.
We've done our research and in no particular order we've selected 15 artists who caught our eyes. These are artists who are playing Official SXSW Showcases, which means badge required, throughout the week. The genres are all over the map, sort-of like the locations, but this should give you a good jumping off point for building the perfect schedule of your very own.
Boy Harsher is a dark electronic duo that produces gritty dance beats infused with ethereal vocals, creating a sound that is eerie, intense and incredibly danceable. Augustus Muller develops the underbelly of sound with minimal beats and grinding synths, where Jae Matthews whispers, screams and chants on top. Together, the music created is somewhere between industrial, drone and confessional storytelling. Source
KANGA is an electronic musician, composer, remixer, producer, and performer who grew up and still resides in Los Angeles, CA. Lauded by Gary Numan as one of the finest electronica acts he knows, KANGA has spent the past 18 months promoting her self-produced, self-titled debut album, which was released in November 2016. Source
Starcrawler are a Los Angeles rock band who formed two years ago when lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde first met drummer Austin Smith. Shortly thereafter, she found guitarist Henri Cash at her Echo Park high school and LA native Tim Franco (bass). They play with squalling riffs and thundering beats, and their incendiary performances, fronted by de Wilde’s otherworldly magnetism, recalls nothing as much as a youthful amalgam of the Cramps, the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, and Alice Cooper. Source
Descartes A Kant
Equal parts Pop, Metal, Punk, Shoegaze and Cabaret, the critically-accliamed underground sextet, Descartes a Kant (Guadalajara, Mexico) have made a real name for themselves as an otherworldly, unpredictable theatrical live act. So much so that even the Wall Street Journal chimed to say that "(trying) to describe their music is to do it a disservice. It’s loud, racy, incredibly imaginative, sophisticated, funny and wild; it’s as if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs fronted Albert Ayler with Frank Zappa conducting”. Source
Oklahoma dream pop band Sports began playing together in grade school, cycling through different names until deciding to adopt a cheeky moniker after their self-described lack of athleticism. Bassist Jacob Theriot and guitarist Christian Theriot are brothers, forming the core trio with a friend and vocalist Cale Chronister. Their 80’s-influenced breezy indie pop sound informed much of their debut LP, Naked All the Time, which was recorded at Blackwatch Studio in Norman, Oklahoma, and released in late 2015. Source
B.P. VALENZUELA is a 22 year old electronic musician with analog sensibilities –– aside from being a producer, she is a singer-songwriter first and foremost. She eschews laptops for intimacy, instead arming herself with electronic friends: drum machines, analog synthesizers, loop stations and samplers ––– having all of them subtly interweave into the sometimes quiet, sometimes dancy, organic and ambient elements that make it a unique experience live. Source
The Grace Joyner band consists of four members, Amber Grace Joyner on keys & lead vocals, Camille Rhoden on keys and harmonies, Nic Jenkins on drums and harmonies, and Joe Chang on bass.Addressing unrequited love, meeting yourself in a moment of failure, and most notably the importance of taking action, Maybe Sometimes in C reflects on moving on from the time of heartbreak and into a place of independence and self-assurance. Source
Automelodi’s music embraces and re-contextualizes a spectrum of influences that include the lesser-known European synthpop and post-punk of the latter Twentieth Century, combined with literary stylizations reminiscent of Gallic songwriters such as Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Fontaine—with nearly all vocals delivered in French. Following a self-released first EP, an eponymous album was released in 2010 by the now defunct Brooklyn label Wierd Records. The second LP, "Surlendemains acides", was released in digital format in October 2013 and then on vinyl in 2014. Source
Ruby Fatale 鹿比 ∞ 吠陀
Ruby Fatale is an audio/visual experimental band. Drenched in the unique atmosphere of stoner/doom/glitch music and the violent aesthetics, Ruby grabs idea from literature, geometric figures and her own experiences. She also concretizes desires, pieces of memory to dedicate sound particles which are content in specified frequency into her music. When she performs, her partner VJ Wei enriches her narration with delicate frequency-synced visual. Ruby used to be a award winning fantasy novel writer, as in music, she tells stories with an unexpected, dramatic way which provides anxious atmosphere. She is as well the winner of 2016 Taiwan Golden Indie music best Electronic album and the promoter of “Unfriendly”, an experimental music party since 2015. Source
WORLD BRAIN is POP music. it has synth, guitar, and lots of other flavors in it. It's about WIFI and LOVE, and the interactions between the two. If you draw a line between Devo and Kate Bush, WORLD BRAIN would be the point in the middle. WORLD is outside of you. BRAIN is inside of you. and vice versa. More seriously, listening to WORLD BRAIN is like wearing new underwear for the first time. Source
I Am Snow Angel
I AM SNOW ANGEL fuses digital and organic elements, creating a sound that is at once ethereal and earthly. The music is composed, performed, produced and engineered by recording artist Julie Kathryn. She has been featured by the Huffington Post, Indie Shuffle, Magnetic Mag, Creem Magazine, Refinery 29, All Things Go and many more for her “fluorescent beats and emotionally charged melodies.” I AM SNOW ANGEL is a freelance sound designer for Ableton and co‐founder of Female Frequency, a musical collective dedicated to empowering women and girls in the music industry. Source
NITE are Canadian-born twin brothers, Kyle and Myles Mendes, based in Dallas, TX. The duo create a unique hybrid of electronic-tinged rock with a nod to 80’s-influenced dream-pop. Kyle and Myles’ powerful dueling vocals might remind oneself of Tears for Fears' Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, with a delivery of tasteful guitar hooks amidst bright synthesizers and throbbing drum machines. Source
Sun June makes regret pop in Austin, Texas. Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury formed the band while working long hours in director Terrence Malick’s editing rooms, practicing in the office whenever Malick was out of town. They worked with Dan Duszynski (Cross Record; Loma) and fellow Malick alum Will Patterson (Sleep Good) on their first set of demos before solidifying the current line up of Michael Bain on guitar, Sarah Schultz on drums, and Justin Harris on bass. They write about past failures, but with warm sounds and catchy melodies. Source
Acid Dad first appeared in the New York scene at the outset of 2015. After spending the year self-releasing demos recorded at their studio in upstate New York, the band garnered local praise from the likes of Oh My Rockness, Brooklyn Vegan, Consequence of Sound and Stereogum. After releasing their debut EP in February of 2016, followed by their first sold out show at Baby’s All Right, Acid Dad embarked upon a two month tour of the United States. Fresh off their first tour, which included numerous SXSW performances as well as appearances on Daytrotter, Audiotree and Jam in the Van, the band started writing their debut LP. While recording, Acid Dad continued to play alongside their contemporaries including Thee Oh Sees, Diarrhea Planet and Night Beats. At the outset of 2017 the band recorded their debut LP which was engineered, mixed and co-produced by Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts, The Drums, The Men). Source
MEUTE is a Techno Marching Band – a dozen drummers and horn players from Hamburg/Germany who fulfil the job of a DJ with their acoustic instruments. The archaic combination of brass and drums forms the basis of a new genre that combines hypnotic, driving techno with expressive brass band music. MEUTE frees electronic music from the limitations of the DJ desk and intensifies the energy level – on stage or directly in the crowd. Be it in the countryside or in the club, with or without electricity – MEUTE runs. Source