31 artists we’re excited to see @ SXSW ’19
The music portion of SXSW officially started today (Monday, 3/11), and BrooklynVegan is throwing three shows this week — the ‘Lost Weekend 3′ day parties with Margin Walker at Mohawk on Thursday and Friday (free with RSVP), and the official nighttime showcase with Shout It Loud Music at Scoot Inn on Saturday (badge or wristband required). We hope to see you at those shows and we’re looking forward to everybody we booked (or we wouldn’t have booked them), but of course we couldn’t book everyone we’re excited about. This list includes 31 artists that we’re especially looking forward to, some of which are playing BV shows and some of which are not. Read our whole list below (in alphabetical order), but first a word from our sponsor…
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OK, here are the bands….
Brooklyn’s Bambara once knocked people back with sheer volume and a menacing stage presence, but have grown to be a more textured, nuanced group. Last year’s A Shadow on Everything brought high drama, dark atmosphere, big hooks, impressive musicianship / production, and, maybe above all else, real swagger. Their live shows are intense and sweaty — frontman Reed Bateh can really prowl the stage — and still very loud. SXSW has six chances to catch them.
New Zealand band The Beths’ debut album Future Me Hates Me (Carpark Records) was one of 2018’s most instantly enjoyable debuts and also one of our favorite albums of 2018. It’s packed to the brim with crunchy, ’90s-style power pop indie rock, the kind of thing that could appeal to fans of anything from Weezer to Juliana Hatfield. They nail it live, too, from the punchy choruses to the soaring harmonies. You’ve got lots of chances to see The Beths at SXSW including the free Friday BrooklynVegan day party with Amanda Palmer, Laura Jane Grace and more.
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Richmond hardcore crushers Candy formed in 2017 with current and former members of Malfunction, Lost Souls, and Backtrack, and by 2018 they released their killer debut album Good To Feel on Triple B Records, which earned them year-end accolades from members of Integrity and Sick Of It All. It’s a genre-defying album that pulls from hardcore, sludge metal, metalcore, death metal, and even a little shoegaze, and it’s no surprise that they’ve been touring recently with other great genre-defying bands like Fucked Up, Self Defense Family, and Nothing.
Uncategorizable Japanese band CHAI have their cake and eat it too on their second album, PUNK, which satirizes the “kawaii” concept of ultra cute-ness, while still falling well within the definition of that construct. The record also rocks, and dabbles in disco, postpunk and prog. Same goes for CHAI’s live show that includes choreographed moves and banter but also serious badass musicianship. They are a lot of fun and seeing them do a concentrated festival set — they’ve got lots of SXSW shows as part of their North American tour — might be the ideal CHAI serving size.
New Zealand indie rock icons The Chills are stopping at SXSW as part of their first major North American tour in 20 years. Frontman and sole constant member Martin Phillipps has an ace band to bring his songs to live and, with this being their first tour in ages, setlists have been heavy on classics. Who knows when they’ll tour again, so do you really wanna miss seeing them play “Pink Frost”? In addition to their SXSW sets, The Chills’ documentary is also premiering at the SXSW Film Festival.
THE COMET IS COMING
Modern jazz is having a real moment right now, especially in the UK where Shabaka Hutchings has been emerging as one of the leaders thanks to his work with Sons of Kemet, Shabaka and the Ancestors, and The Comet Is Coming. The Comet Is Coming is by far his trippiest project — they’re clearly influenced by ’70s space rock and ’60s psychedelia and it makes sense that one of their SXSW shows is from the people who put on Psycho Las Vegas — and their great sophomore album Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery (which features Kate Tempest is on a song) arrives this week just in time for SXSW. (It’s officially out Friday but it’s streaming now.) Turn on, tune in, drop out, and go see this far-out trio.
There isn’t a lot of metal during SXSW this year, and a lot of the metal bands are only playing unofficial shows, like UK doom/sludge greats Conan who are making their exclusive appearance in Austin this week at the Northwest Hesh Fest & Austin Terror Fest party at The Lost Well on Friday (Conan play at midnight). Conan’s latest LP is last year’s killer Existential Void Guardian, which saw them adding in a more hardcore/punk influence than ever before. It’s still got the towering doom/sludge riffs of their earlier days, but they’re playing at a faster pace and writing catchier songs than ever.
Like the aforementioned Comet Is Coming, Ezra Collective are in the forefront of the UK jazz renaissance, and their anticipated debut album You Can’t Steal My Joy is coming out this April. It features their great 2018 single with soul singer Jorja Smith, and that collaboration alone is proof that this band appeals to fans of hip hop and R&B as much as it appeals to those schooled on jazz. They tend to favor an upbeat sound that you can really move to, so don’t expect some calm seated night at a jazz club. Wear your dancing shoes to this one.
You don’t see a lot of bands today as perfectly named as Orange County hardcore crew Fury. They’ve built a reputation over the last few years as a killer live band (and we agree they are), and now they’ve signed to Run For Cover (Camp Cope, Turnover, Modern Baseball, etc) for their new album Failed Entertainment. Going by lead single “Angels Over Berlin,” Fury are adding just a bit more melody into their sound without sacrificing their pure aggression. Catch them at the Friday of our Lost Weekend 3 day parties at Mohawk.
THE GET UP KIDS
The Get Up Kids’ classic ’90s records helped shape much of the emo and indie rock that followed in the 21st century, though they softened their sound and then broke up before they could experience the same level of fame as the bands they influenced. They came back with a 2011 album that wasn’t received super well (it’s underrated though!), but lately they’ve been making a comeback in a major way. They’re now on Polyvinyl and last year’s Kicker EP sounded like classic Get Up Kids and was met with lots of love from fans and critics. Now they’re set to release a new full-length album, Problems, and lead single “Satellite” might even be stronger than the Kicker songs. Hopefully we’ll hear even more new stuff at their two SXSW shows (including the Polyvinyl showcase with fellow indie/emo vets Pedro the Lion).
Maryland rapper IDK (formerly Jay IDK) continues to rise and sharpen his sound, and we recommend catching him before the inevitable breakthrough that he’s been building towards for a few years. Fresh off recent 2018 collaborations with Rico Nasty, Denzel Curry, Maxo Kream, Saba, and more, IDK dropped his 2019 single “Trigger Happy” and he’s prepping his next project ISHEREAL which we’re very much anticipating. “Trigger Happy” sees him in pure shit-talking mode, and he’s very much got the chops to back it up.
J.S. Ondara was born in Nairobi, Kenya but he fell in love with American folk music, particularly that of Bob Dylan, and he moved to Dylan’s home state of Minnesota of 2013 to chase his very own American Dream. Just last month, he put out his debut album Tales of America, and as soon as you hear his gorgeous, soaring vocals, you’ll see why he’s been rising so quickly. Catch him at the Friday of our Lost Weekend 3 day parties at Mohawk.
LAURA JANE GRACE AND THE DEVOURING MOTHERS
After years of fronting the powerful punk band Against Me!, who have been in the midst of a massive resurgence since releasing their great 2014 album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Laura Jane Grace has gone solo for the first time with last year’s Bought To Rot. She made it with backing band The Devouring Mothers (which includes Against Me! drummer Atom Willard and bassist Marc Hudson, who has engineered, co-produced, and contributed to Against Me! records in the past), and it’s got some folkier songs that scream “solo debut” but also lots of punkier songs that aren’t too far removed from Against Me!. It’s great and we’re looking forward to seeing Laura bring these new songs to life, which she’ll do at the Friday of our Lost Weekend 3 day parties at Mohawk.
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Masked rapper Leikeli47 was one of the best acts we saw at SXSW 2018, and since then she released another great new album, Acrylic (one of the best rap albums of 2018), and she’s deservedly bigger than ever. Her songs are instantly memorable and her live show is full of energy… see her before she’s even bigger next year.
We named Bronx rapper Maliibu Miitch one of the best new-ish artists of 2017, and though we’re still patiently waiting on a debut album from her, she continues to drop singles that prove she’s getting better and better like last year’s world-conquering “Give Her Some Money.” Miitch clearly takes notes from booming, bassy, Biggie-style New York rap, but makes it entirely modern. That album can’t come soon enough.
THE MARKED MEN
The Marked Men are a Texas punk institution. The Denton band haven’t released a new album in a decade, but their raw, melodic sound has influenced tons of great punk bands over the years and The Marked Men just get more and more legendary as time goes on. Members are active with other bands (liked Radioactivity, Mind Spiders, and more), and as good as those bands are, there’s nothing quite like The Marked Men. They do still play shows but their shows are pretty rare, so if you’ll be in Austin this week, don’t miss ’em. You can catch them at the AdHoc day party at Cheer Up Charlies on Saturday.
MEGAN THEE STALLION
Megan Thee Stallion comes from a long tradition of abrasive, mostly-male Houston rap, and though she honors her influences, she also flips their often-sexist music on its head. “When I’m listening to them, I’m like, This would be really live reversed. I really feel like if men can talk this much shit, women can too,” she told The FADER. It’s exciting to see someone doing this, and Megan is doing it really well. Her 2018 single “Big Ole Freak” (which recently got a video) is more unstoppable than ever. Even fellow Houston native Solange just co-signed it.
OPEN MIKE EAGLE
Open Mike Eagle has been a staple of indie/underground rap for a while now, and he not only remains prolific but he’s arguably getting even better. Last year’s What Happens When I Try To Relax EP was one of the best rap albums of 2018 and one of OME’s strongest projects yet. It’s full of off-kilter and unpredictable wordplay, and it’s as funny as it is dead-serious. Mike raps his ass off on it, and he’ll surely do the same on stage this week.
Coming to SXSW all the way from Japan are Otoboke Beaver, whose anticipated new album ITEKOMA HITS pulls from raging hardcore punk, bouncy indie pop, scrappy garage rock, and more. It’s nearly impossible to pin down, and it’s fun as hell to listen to. We haven’t seen them yet, but they seem like the kind of band who are gonna put on a very memorable show. Catch them at the Friday of our Lost Weekend 3 day parties at Mohawk.
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PEDRO THE LION
David Bazan put an end to his Pedro the Lion project back in the mid-2000s and he stayed very active since then with other projects, but PTL always remained his most beloved. So it was great news when he finally started PTL up again, and at last year’s shows (which are way more rockin’ than you might expect from this sometimes-slowcore-ish band) Bazan sounded genuinely thrilled to be playing these songs again. Pedro the Lion’s return isn’t just about nostalgia though. They’ve got a great new album Phoenix out now on Polyvinyl and we’re looking forward to hearing these new songs live. Their one official show is the Polyvinyl showcase (with fellow indie/emo vets The Get Up Kids).
Brighton, UK’s Penelope Isles were the best thing we saw at NYC’s New Colossus Fest this past weekend, mixing complex (but not complicated) pop songwriting, musicianship and explosive energy. There’s a real grandeur to their music, big and swelling, with ebbs and flows, and lead vocals often traded between siblings Jack and Lily Wolter. The whole band is seriously talented, and you might not expect, given jazzy songs like the just-released “Chlorine,” that Penelope Isles seriously rock, too. They’ve got seven shows at SXSW.
Phony Ppl describe themselves as having “no genre,” and though a lot of bands might like to be classified that way, Phony Ppl truly deserve it. Their great 2018 album mozaik touches on jazz, hip hop, soul, funk, rock, psychedelia, and more, and it’s a gorgeous record. They’re masters of the stage too. Having recently toured opening for Pusha T, the NYC band are now in the midst of a hometown residency at Blue Note Jazz Club and we’re thrilled that they’re taking a break from that to fly down to Austin for SXSW. Catch them at the Thursday of our Lost Weekend 3 day parties at Mohawk.
Montreal’s Pottery have been playing for a little over a year, pureeing genres — nervy mutant pop, krautrock, psych — and putting on very high energy shows. Up until recently the only place you could hear their music was to see them live (and that was only if you lived in Canada) but the band have signed with Partisan Records who will release their debut EP in May and are finally dipping below the U.S. border, playing a handful of SXSW shows (including the free BrooklynVegan/Margin Walker/M for Montreal day party on Thursday) before going on tour with Viagra Boys.
Brooklyn band Public Practice, which includes Samantha York and Vince McClelland of Wall and Beverly members Drew Citron and Scott Rosenthal, play spiky danceable rock, informed by post-punk (Pylon, Talking Heads), new wave, Yellow Magic Orchestra and more. All four members write and they crammed a lot of big hooks into their terrific debut EP. Public Practice played their first live show about a year ago and have been mainstays ever since, opening for Shame, Gang of Four (sort of) and more. They’ve got one official showcase and a bunch of other day parties.
Rico Nasty makes profoundly modern rap that shares a spirit (and sometimes a sound) with punk, and that can be very melodic too. She released one of our favorite albums of 2018 and has come into 2019 swinging with a handful of new singles and high-profile guest appearances that proves she’s just getting better and better. Catch her at the Thursday of our Lost Weekend 3 day parties at Mohawk.
Tierra Whack’s 2018 project Whack World — which is made up of 15 one-minute tracks that cut off abruptly, interrupt each other, and/or flow right into each other — has been quietly revolutionizing the art of the rap album. It was deservedly one of the most acclaimed rap releases of last year, it inspired the great new albums by major artists like Solange and Earl Sweatshirt, and Whack is not slowing down. She’s been releasing a steady stream of singles in 2019 (with more traditional song lengths), and they prove that she’s continuing to expand her sound in interesting ways. She’s already got a reputation as a fun live act, so don’t miss this chance to see her.
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Valee impressed me at SXSW last year, but that was before he put out the Song of the Summer contender “Womp Womp.” That song had one of 2018’s most addictive hooks — in rap or any genre — and it’s kept us on the edge of our seats, waiting to see what Valee does next.
Swedish punks Viagra Boys have been around for a while and their members include a few seasoned musicians from the Stockholm scene. Their brand of dystopian punk fits in well with bands like IDLES and Iceage, brandishing a nihilistic sense of humor like a broken bottle in a bar fight. Their debut album, Street Worms, revels in its tales of unbridled, sleazeball, don’t-give-a-fuck machismo that straddles the line between irony (their silly single “Sports”) and menace (most of the rest of the album). Catch Viagra Boys in their shirtless tattooed glory at SXSW and on tour with Montreal’s Pottery.
Wand came up as a garage-psych band who caught the attention of Ty Segall early on, but their music is in much different territory now. They’re gearing up to release their anticipated new album Laughing Matter, and early singles have been much more in the Radiohead-style art rock direction that they’ve been heading towards for a bit now. They’re even better live and you’ve got a few chances to see them, including two official SXSW showcases and the Thursday free BrooklynVegan/Margin Walker day party at Mohawk with Japanese Breakfast, Priests, Rico Nasty and more.
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As mentioned earlier, there isn’t a lot of metal during SXSW, and a lot of the metal bands are only playing unofficial shows, and that includes Weedeater. They’ve been staples of stoner metal for years, and they continue to be one of the genre’s best bands today. They’re also still road warriors, with lots of touring planned for this year, including a brief stop in Austin during SXSW at The Lost Well on Wednesday (3/13) with ASG, Toke, and more.
YOUTH OF TODAY
Hardcore as we know it was forever changed by legendary NYHC band Youth of Today when they released such classic albums as 1986’s Break Down The Walls and 1988’s We’re Not In This Alone. Their influence has expanded beyond pop punk in the decades since, and you can now feel their impact on post-hardcore, indie rock, emo, pop punk, metal, and more. They’re currently reunited with the We’re Not In This Alone lineup of Ray Cappo, Porcell, Walter Schreifels, and Sammy Siegler and about to play their first NYC shows in 20+ years with that lineup right after SXSW. But first, they’ll be in Austin where they headline the Thursday of Thrasher Death Match at Weather Up (1808 E Cesar Chavez).
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