Everything is bigger in Texas, and South By Southwest is a perfect example of that. For six days, Austin becomes the center of the music world, with tons of bands from a wide variety of genres congregating to create a music fan’s dream. Bands range from huge mainstream acts to local upstarts, so here are a few bands playing SXSW that you should know.
Quiet Company – This local Austin band makes some of the most honest, heartfelt music out there right now. Their piano and horn infused pop-rock ranges from huge and ambitious to more stripped down and raw, but the lyrics are what really make them stand out. Their live show really encapsulates the emotion and power of their music, making Quiet Company a must see.
Quiet Company – Preaching to the Choir Invisible, Part I (What Do You Think Happens When We Die?)
Toro Y Moi – With his spacey vocals and laid back, ambient beats, Toro Y Moi has become one of the most talked about acts in the indie scene. His production is heavily influeneced by hip-hop, keeping his music catchy even when it drifts into weird directions. Toro Y Moi – Grown Up Calls
Trash Talk – Trash Talk is guaranteed to be the most insane show you attend for the week. Expect chaos and mayhem as they tear through their set with serious aggression. Signed with Odd Future Records, they share that same fuck you attitude, and their hardcore sound is sure to make for a memorable show. Trash Talk – Fuck Nostalgia
The Cool Kids – It’s been five years since The Cool Kids put out their incredibly strong EP The Bake Sale, but Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks are still two of the strongest MCs in the game right now. Their laid back delivery and high-energy production should make their show a huge party. The Cool Kids – Bassment Party
The best thing about SXSW is the ability to see great lineups for free. It’s an adventure just getting out there to wander around and discover new bands. It can be overwhelming at times, so here are my picks for the best free party for each day.
Monday 3/11: No Way Back presented by The Barbarian Group & Vimeo
feat. Surfer Blood, Murder By Death, Vacationer and more
I saw Murder By Death open for Say Anything a few months back and was blown away by their live show. I’m not usually a huge fan of folk music, but MBD bring such an electric energy that it’s hard not to be impressed. Add Surfer Blood and Kenny Vasoli’s eclectic side project Vacationer and this is a show that can’t be missed.
Tuesday 3/12: Jansport Bonfire Sessions
feat. Japandroids, Wavves, Divine Fits, and more
Japandroids released one of last year’s best albums, Celebration Rock, and have a huge sound that seems perfect for these kinds of parties. Wavves are also fixing to drop their new album, so no doubt both will bring top-notch performances here.
Wednesday 3/13: Waterloo Records Day Party
feat. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Tegan & Sara, twenty|one|pilots, and more
This party features three of the bigger names of the week, all playing outside the legendary Waterloo Records. After Macklemore and Ryan Lewis killed it on Saturday Night Live last week, they are sure to have one of the biggest crowds there.
Thursday 3/14: The Pitchfork Day Party
feat. Youth Lagoon, Foxygen, Toro Y Moi, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and more
Pitchfork brings some of the biggest up-and-coming indie bands together for their day party. I already talked about how you should check out Toro Y Moi, but Foxygen and Unknown Mortal Orchestra deserve just as much of your attention. Both bands feature a psychedelic sound that harkens back to the ’60s and ’70s, and makes them a perfect fit for this lineup.
Friday 3/15: The Tumblr House presented by Gap
feat. Ra Ra Riot, Ducktails, Vacationer, and more
Ducktails unique brand of indie pop has made them one of my favorite bands in the genre. Their newest album The Flower Lane is chock full of sunny energy that should translate incredibly well live. That, along with more Vacationer and genre heavyweights Ra Ra Riot, will make for a high-energy indie showcase.
Saturday 3/16: Alternative Press presents The 100 Bands You Need To Know
feat. Frank Turner, Forever Came Calling, Single Mothers, HRVRD, and more
SXSW is definitely dominated by the hipster indie scene, so the AP party should be a welcome sight for those not interested in bearded dudes making hip-hop beats on their laptops. There is a wide variety of genres represented here, from Frank Turner’s raucous folk-punk to HRVRD’s intricate jams, from Forever Came Calling’s blistering pop-punk to Single Mother’s punishing hardcore, this party has everything.