The 10 Must-See Bands Playing SXSW

Image via Cathedrals

The music portion of SXSW begins next week, and for those heading to Texas, there are over 2,000 bands waiting for you when you arrive. Seeing everyone you’d like to is impossible, but you should do your best to catch some of the hottest acts before they blow up. Even if you’re not going to trapse up and down Sixth Street, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the best bands the indie world has to offer.

We could discuss great acts playing the festival for days, but here are ten to get you started.

BIG DATA





While the musician’s bio talks a lot about the intersection of man and machine and about our dependence on the internet (even though it’s how we all discover new music, including Big Data), that’s not what’s most important about producer Alan Wilkis—it’s the music, plain and simple.



CATHEDRALS




When Johnny Hwin met Brodie Jenkins in San Francisco back in 2012, he had already been stocking up on electronic-focused productions, just waiting for something to do with them. Brodie had been singing and writing for years, and when the two finally decided to work together, it was magic, and the they’ve been recording and touring ever since, building a name for themselves pretty quickly.

COURTNEY BARNETT





The best music is honest, and Courtney is nothing if not that. Also, she’s one of rock and roll’s best hopes for a shining female star at the moment, but the pressure doesn’t seem to be making her nervous about taking chances or playing around with less-than-savory lyrics.

ELLE KING



King is doing her part in bringing blues to the forefront again with her signature blend of rock, blues, and enough hooks to give her a broad appeal. Her voice is raspy and sounds like it should belong to someone twice her age…and that’s what makes it so incredibly captivating.

LEON BRIDGES




If you didn’t know better, you’d assume that Bridges was from another era by listening to the old school soulful rock he’s creating. Everything about the Texan singer-songwriter is retro, from his style to his melodies, and even the vocal effects and the microphones he’s using. Plenty of artists have looked to the past for inspiration, but how many made their tunes so historically accurate?

MARIAN HILL





One listen to the brassy saxophone hook in “I Got It” and you’re a fan for life. That should be enough to get you started.

ODESZA


Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight were both recording under their own names (CatacombKid and BeachesBeaches, respectively) when they met at college, but their work together is what helped them explode onto the electronic scene. Their signature use of glitched-out vocals as part of the music is genius and unmatched.

SAN FERMIN




What started as one man in Brooklyn has become a full band, adding people to match the size of the group’s sound. What sets the band apart from the rest of the indie-pop world is the incredible amount of time and effort they focus on arranging, including a full horn section.



SHURA




Russian-born singer, songwriter, and producer Shura brings a gentle sensuality to everything she does, following in the footsteps of artists like Jessie Ware. This is music for making love, or, as the video for her breakout single “Touch” suggests, making out.

TUXEDO




Tuxedo is a newly-formed duo comprising of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One, a producer who has had hip-hop’s biggest (Drake, Wiz Khalifa, 50 Cent) rap over his tracks. The two just released a funky-as-hell self-titled album earlier this month.

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