Pretty much every human being who’s ever heard a song in their lives is either in or headed to Austin for the 30th edition of South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival. Better known as SXSW, the music portion runs all week and promises to be a dizzying blur of events as upwards of 2000 bands play on stages, rooftops, parking lots, under bridges, in living rooms and beyond.
The showcases are endless, and while you’ve got a good chance of stumbling across something great as you drunkenly bounce down 5th st. like a meaty pinball, a little outside help goes a long way in cutting right to the good stuff.
Look no further – we’ve dug through the endless bin of this year’s performers and picked out a handful of acts you won’t want to miss. Sure, we’re amped to catch The Kills and Deftones and beyond, but SXSW is not about the headliner names – that’s icing on the experience. SXSW is here to bring the best out of the fighting contenders. Check out the goods, and keep up with our SXSW survival guide while you’re at it. We want you to live through the time of your life.
Date: 3/18 /Time: 4:55pm /Venue: North Door
68 are exactly the kind of act you want to discover at an alcohol-soaked musical throwdown. The duo of Josh Scogin (formerly of The Chariot) and drummer Michael McClellan deliver spitfire-furious blast-rock grooves, foundationally delicious and furiously fun. Whether shifting mid-song into a spontaneous and explosive cover of ATDI’s “One Armed Scissor” or tearing Nirvana’s “Tourette’s” a new one with beastly gusto, the familiar and the new spark like live wires shoved together. With one album and a reckless, staggering fury roaring through shredded throats and pulverized skins, the future is very bright for these boys.
Open Mike Eagle
Date: 3/16 /Time: 12:00 am /Venue: Barracuda Backyard 611 E 7th St
Straddling both the comedy and hip-hop worlds, Open Mike Eagle hits a sunshine-smooth spot in the soul with textured depth and a captivating voice. Whether crooning or spitting rhymes, the Chicago native is definitely at the top of our watch list in 2016.
Date: 3/17 /Time: 11:00 pm /Venue: Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room
We had just discovered newcomer Hunter Sharpe when we premiered the brash, spastic, hook-rich gut punch of “Elephant Walk,” with the kind of jagged rhythms and caffeinated howls which call back an early Jack White.
At 19 years old, Sharpe has already played ACL and LA’s El Rey Theatre and is gearing up for a blast through SXSW this year.
Date: March 18 /Time: 10:15PM /Venue: 800 Congress Ave
One would not expect SXSW to be the place for EDM discovery, but Leon Vynehall defies all other genre classifications so he’ll have to be the representative dance-draw freak riot of Austin this week. A master of richly layered sounds, the UK beatmaker crafts sonically cinematic deliciousness we can’t wait to see in person.
Date: March 18 /Time: 11 PM /Venue: Hype Hotel, 1100 E 5th St
A standout from last year’s Dre album, the style-slippery Anderson .Paak followed up the hype momentum with the intensely good Malibu. Paak’s methodology is a left-coast answer to Acid Rap, and it’s all but guaranteed he’s going to be hitting the big stages very soon.
Date: March 16 /Time: 12:05AM/Venue: ScratcHouse 617 E 7th St
PWR BTTM is the sound of being open to absolutely anything, anytime. A sensibility crossroads between Father John Misty and an ecstasy-dosed Weird Al Yankovic brings out the best from this Brooklyn queer punk outfit. Don’t be fooled by the absurdity of their presentation – it digs inside you like a furious little tick you can’t help but love.