SXSW is overwhelming. There’s no way around it. You’ve got grips of bands that you’ve never heard of before, grips of bands that you’ve heard of before, and grips of bands that you should have heard of before, all descending on a place in the State of Texas. A place that is not used to moving at a regular human pace, but rather at a Texas human pace. So regardless of how hip of a city Austin may be, it still ain’t ever gonna be ready for all that comes upon it during the second week of March.
So for those of you rolling down there with no sense of where you’re going to end up or what you’ll see (AKA all of you rolling down there), here’s a couple of lists of bands that we dig who will be there in the melay. We don’t expect you to print this out and use it as a guide, that would be stupid, on your part. However, if you should come across a flyer on the ground or a light-post, and it’s got one of these bands written on it, and you’re in the near vicinity of the show at the right time, well I damn well expect you to try to catch their 30 min. set.
Bands you may or may not know depending on your location and level of “with-it-ness”:
The Dead Ships – Jam in the Van favorites. I don’t know how to describe what it is that they play, like what category they fall in. It’s indie, it’s punkish, it’s garagesque, it’s good.
Ivory Deville – I put these dingles near the top of the list or else you wouldn’t never find them. I’m not sure where they are playing, but I do know that they have talent. As sad as I am to say goodbye to their old band, The Muddy Reds, I’m excited about this new journey of drug-fueled dirtbaggery that their authentic rock and roll is going to embark upon.
The Stone Foxes – This band is just pleasant to listen to. Their live set was the best that I saw at SXSW last year, and I saw some good shit there, so that’s saying exactly what it’s saying, boi.
Youngblood Hawke – I met these guys in a dirty RV in my alleyway about a year and a half ago. Now I can’t turn on the TV without hearing their song on an ad for American Idol. Check’em to see what the hype is about, and also hope that you’ll catch one of their more intimate acoustic performances, as those, are in my opinion, when they are at their finest.
The Orwells – Yung heads with skillz. Their current brand of youth infused rock is an extremely good time, catch them now while they’re still illegal, then say you saw them when if they become a thing. Like a big thing.
The Mowglis – These guys are like the LA weather, make you feel good…
The Lonely Wild – Los Angeles indie unit with solid harmonies and catchy tunes. Could be a real good fit for a SXSW scene that always seems to need a lil something to take the edge off.
Caitlin Rose – I usually like what ATO Records likes, and they like this lady. That’s not to say you’re going to like her, but you might could.
Fidlar – Punk-proper. These dudes had their name all over LA concert calendars for a couple of years, and then this year it seems like they went and busted out on the world. They play some good Cali punk. So drink a few too many Lonestars and show up ready to jump and head-bang.
Foxygen – This is undoubtedly an LA-centric list, but if it’s good, it’s good. Foxygen is pretty good. My buddy said he’d put them in the same category as bands like Purity Ring and Youth Lagoon, but he’s a hater and I disagree. It’s got it’s own sound, and I like that sound.
Mac Demarco – You never know what you’ll get when this guy takes the stage.
Haim – Because they’re hot, sisters, and they tend to do some hippie-shakin-of-it in their videos. At the very least it’s good fodder for the spank bank, oh jeez, did I cross a line?
The Kingston Springs – Kinda like the soundtrack to a good cult flick.
Marnie Stern – Homegirl rips.
Merchandise – Apparently they’re a hot ticket, all the super alt bros want to sign them, they’ve got that buzz. They also have a pretty sweet eighties vibe and fuzzy sound to them, so that’s coo.
Mikal Cronin – Fuzz Par Excellence, compadre de Ty Segal, todos bien.
Tumbleweed Wanderers – Heard this band for the first time yesterday. I am glad yesterday occurred and that this occurrence took place then.
Parquet Courts – For those who like Rock and Roll, they play it.
Houndmouth – What I’ve heard on Soundcloud is killer. Seems like the type of band that brings a legit live show.
Waxahatchee – If you’ve got that itch for some good angst jams, boom, this be your chick right here.
Diarrhea Planet – Huh Huh… I mean, why not?
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – At first I didn’t like this band, then I realized that I do like them. I don’t know if that has any affect on your SXSW plans, but maybe you at first thought you didn’t like them and this could be your perfect opportunity to like them again.
Guards – Heard these dudes doing a live set on the radio. I dug it. Very intricate set, interesting front man vocals.
Watch The Duck – You don’t need no hype man when your shit is just naturally hype.
Goldroom – LA producer who is skilled at the making you dance. Recently played a headlining set at the first ever Ranch Party, seems like the reviews were positive.
Tokimonsta – Guaranteed to make you feel like your in a Japanese animation film every time you see her.
French Horn Rebellion – They play dance music, but it feature’s a French horn, which is pretty tight. It also features smog machines and lights. Always tight.
METZ – Got some pent up aggression you want to be rid of? Try a hit of METZ. Fast and furious, invigoratingly fun.
Surfer Blood – If Weezer and Dinosaur Jr. schmanged and had a baby… Maybe, not really, but like, they play some too cool for school indie rock that will make you feel special if you attend.
Jake Bug – He’s Bri’ish and ‘e sings nice.
Lord Huron – In case you want to do some introspective thinking whilst there.
Jenny O. – She played the van and our driver, Spud, taught her why Crips say “cuz” instead of “dawg.” So henceforth, any Jenny O. show that you see now or in the future will feature the Post-Spud-Streetwise-Jenny O.
Gap Dream – They’re on Burger Records, which doesn’t make them automatically good, but it makes them kind of hip, and to some people that’s a thing. Their tunes are pretty cool too.
Spirit Family Reunion – Go listen to their Daytrotter session, it’s damn good.
John Wayne Bro – Much love for the Wayne Bros, they’re always fun to have at the party.
Robert DeLong – Most watched Jam in the Van video ever, this guy has officially been noticed and I’d expect any performance of his from here out will reflect his arrival and realization that he can really make folks dance with his joysticks.
Cherub – These guys and their music are just one big party. I have no doubt that they will be turning up all week in Austin, and that wherever they are turnt up, you can plan on being turnt up too.
Generationals – Indie rock isn’t the first genre you think about when you think about New Orleans, but if and when you do think about those two things together, you should think about these dudes, cause they are doin’ it and doin’ it well.
Chvrches – In Glassnote Records we trust.
Bernie Worrell Orchestra – Serious OG head on the keys…
ZZ Ward – In my educated opinion, she’s perty and so is her music.
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – You better dress sharp for this.
Deap Vally – Cause look how clever they spell their name. I actually read somewhere that there’s a reason why they spelled it like that. I forget why, must not have been a great story, but I like their music. They seem angry, which is hot.
Futurebirds – Some of Athens’ finest goin’ right now. Really sick beards on these guys too.
Hurray for the Riff Raff – They’re like the #1 band for train-hoppers out there, I think.
Little Green Cars – Another Glassnote artist. Will they be the next Mumford and Sons? TBD sirs, TBD.
J Roddy Walston and the Business – Take your significant other to one of their shows just so you can tell them “I’m bout to give you the business yo!”
Jenny Owen Youngs – Sure to be a wholesome good time.
The Whigs – Another solid offering from Georgia. If you need another head-bang show, this could be it.
Whitehorse – Solid southern twang on these two.
Hip Hoppers you may or may not know (depending on your level of street):
Antwon – They compare this dude to B.I.G… He’s definitely hefty. Rhymes jive decent too, but let’s not get carried away.
Kosha Dillz – Yung Menorah! Freestyle skillz for days. They’re serving Hebrew National dogs at every show he plays (I can’t verify that).
ASVP Ferg – Not just saying it cause SPIN says it. Saying it because his Instagram feed is mostly pictures of herbals and Lean/Dirty Sprite. Sometimes that’s how I judge if rap music is gonna blow up or not. The Juicy J scale.
Chance the Rapper – He shouts out to Chief Keef in his hit “Juice.” Chief Keef is kind of like a hero of mine. I find him to be super eloquent. Respect.
IAMSU! and the HBK Gang – On his Twitter profile he refers to himself as a beat makin’rappin ass young Jedi… On the off chance this is true, would you want to miss the opportunity to see a Jedi rap and get hyphy for the Yay Urrea? No, no you wouldn’t.
Mystikal – Friggin Mystikal yo! He’s reinventing himself after serving six in lockdown for a couple minor societal flub-ups called sexual battery and extortion. Can you find it in your heart to give the dude responsible for “Shake it Fast” a second chance? I think I can. Also, he raps super quick.
YG – From LA and Ratchet, can’t go wrong.
Young L – Even if he sucked at rapping, Young L would still be a good name.
Action Bronson – Bronsolini is the man. There is a G-Pen with a picture of his face on it. Is there a G-Pen with a picture of your face on it? No, stand down.
Kitty Pride – By far the prettiest rapper on this list (excluding Bronsolini).
Three Loco – May one day be in the conversation of “Best Rap Group” ever… *may.
Phranchyze – Battle rapper supreme. I would pay between 3-5 dollars to watch him battle rap vs. Kosha Dillz.
Bun B – OG, respect.
Sahtyre – He released something called the LSD Project, he’s trippy-mayne, again, I used the Juicy J. scale on this rec.
Jackie Chain – He’s an Asian rapper from Alabama, what more do you want to know?
Dead Prez – RESPECT. They schools still ain’t teachin’ shit, and Dead Prez is still here to tell us about it.
Flatbush Zombies – They make thug waffles. Real talk.
Bands you know and whose shows you better have some type of badge to get into:
Kendrick Lamar – He’s Kendrick Lamar, AKA Benz to him’s just a car.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – More like Bad Ass and the Bad Asses (that’d be a funny name for a fat-chick band tho).
Riff Raff AKA Jody High Roller – AKA if you need one reason to go to SXSW this year he should be it.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Yeaaaaaah Yeah OK.
Jim James – AKA the Man.
Deer Tick – Always a good time, the drunker they or you get, the better they sound.
The Black Lips – Same description as Deer Tick, only there’s a higher chance that you’ll see nudity on the stage at a Black Lips show.
Dawes – Usually consistent, you know you’re getting a nice time with a Dawes show. The type of show you could bring your mother to.
Richard Thompson – Because I was in a parking lot in Asheville one time and this old head came up to me and asked if I was going to Bonnaroo and I was like, “yeah,” and he was all like “Oh my God, I’m going because of Richard Thompson, you have to see Richard Thompson, he’ll blow your mind!”
Wavves – Because if SXSW happens and Wavves isn’t there, does SXSW ever really happen?
I could continue. In total there are over 2,000 bands descending upon Austin in the coming week, and I’m sure a good percentage of them are worthy of your ears. Hell, the only thing that separates one band from another sometimes is that you haven’t heard of them yet. So I’m certain that I’ve left out a good amount of extremely talented bands and musicians, but listing all of them would be as obnoxious as SXSW itself. So I’ll call it a day, and bid you bon voyage on your journey to the Lone Star State. Have a blast, don’t do anything Marilyn Manson wouldn’t do, stay hydrated, don’t eat from the Indian Truck on Red River St., don’t try to get a cab, at all, and don’t plan for anything, the plans will get ruined. Oh, and always, above all, when festing, KEEP IT HEADY!