Sure, it's exciting when a traditional music festival releases its lineup. You get to see your favorite bands in one spot, strategically plan your day according to set times, and cross your fingers for a Daft Punk appearance. South by Southwest, however, is not a traditional music festival. Rather than your favorite band from high school, SXSW is all about finding something new: The latest, the coolest, the soon-to-blow-up band that will be playing Coachella in a couple years from now. But, with literally thousands of acts descending on Austin, knowing which baby band to catch can be a daunting task at the very least.
In order to help whittle it down, we've selected five of our favorite up-and-comers that are already doing great things. From our favorite Austin locals to a mysterious UK producer, these are the shows you should see. After all, half the fun of SXSW is saying you were there, man.
Photo: Courtesy of Angel Olsen/Zia Anger.
Angel Olsen first caught the public's eye when she supported Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on tour, but truth be told she's been making gorgeous folk music for a few years now. Half Way Home (2012) was a cult favorite, but her new record, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, is going to make her a star. Rather than her typically windswept guitar arrangements, Olsen has embraced classic country and fuzzed-out garage for a mix of genres that brings the noise as well as the heartache.
Friday, March 14, Red Eyed Fly, 715 Red River Street (between 7th and 8th streets); Austin, TX; 512-474-1084.
Photo: Courtesy of Saint Pepsi.
Up-and-coming producer Saint Pepsi (a.k.a. Ryan DeRobertist) was originally a Boston College student with a beat-making hobby on the side. His tracks soon started circling the Internet, and he's quickly become one of the most buzzed-about new producers out there. Tracks like "Justin Bieber" and "Burn" feature post-modern styles and genre twists that go perfectly with his tongue-in-cheek moniker.
Friday, March 14, 307 W. 5th Street (between 7th and 8th streets), Austin, TX; 512-494-4094.
Photo: Courtesy of Sophie.
With just one release, London-based producer Sophie created a sound all his own. "Bipp" was, quite simply, the most inventive, original, and purely fun dance track of 2013. Though the enigmatic producer has yet to reveal his identity to the public, he'll be making appearances to DJ in Austin. If you've got the inclination to dance, this is the guy you want to check out.
Electronic showcase, TBD.
Photo: Courtesy of Perfect Pussy.
It may seem like there's always a new punk band that the mainstream can latch onto, but Perfect Pussy more than sustains its hard-core bona fides. Singer Meredith Graves (how punk a name is that?) attacks the stage with a fury few can match. And while guitars sear, drums pummel, and Graves screams her heart out, there's always emotion atop the entropy.
Friday, March 14, Red 7 Patio, 611 E. 7th Street (between Red River and Sabine streets); Austin, TX.
Photo: Courtesy of OBN IIIs.
If you're only going to see one local Austin band this SXSW make it OBN IIIs. With its huge hooks and even huger guitars, this bar rock five-piece embodies rock 'n' roll in its purest and loudest form. Don't take it from us though; just read the band's Facebook description: "Facebook asks we write a short description of our page. Our page is about fu*k-all if not for the band. Come see us live." How's that for a long description, Facebook?" Do it.
Friday, March 14, 8:25 - 8:55 p.m., Hotel Vegas Patio, 1500 E. 6th Street, Austin (between Onion and Comal streets); Austin, TX; 512-524-1584.