The South by Southwest Festival is right around the corner and if you have never attended, there really is nothing else currently like it. Unlike most other festivals where you have one location with multiple stages, thousands of bands, promoters, record labels, media outlets and sponsors who will descend upon Austin, TX and take over for about a week, playing at venues all across the city.
There are definitely pros about SXSW, but also many cons. The best pro is that you can discover some really great unknown bands if you take the time to find the diamonds in the rough. The cons are that for the well known artists and bands you want to see, you will more than likely wait in line for hours and possibly never get in due to the venue being at capacity. Unless you shell out thousands of dollars on a badge or know someone, you will not get into the larger showcases.
If you are coming to Austin this month for South By Southwest or if you just want to discover some really cool but not-so-well-known bands, check out our suggested list for this year’s festival. For this list, we stuck to bands that have official showcases and are on the schedule. It might be impossible to find all of the “unofficial” bands that will be playing during the festival – maybe that will be a good list to tackle for next year. Check back the week of the festival, as we will be sharing more artists to check out during the week of March 16-20. To be fair, the list is in alphabetical order.
No doubt Alvvays would be on our list, especially after being on our Best of 2014 list. Alvvays returns to SXSW this year and will be playing a number of times, including for the Hype Hotel which we will be attending.
Nashville-based Bully returns to SXSW this year, and their debut self-titled EP that came out last year was a solid show of 90s influenced rock similar to The Cranberries. It will be nice to see vocalist Alicia Bognanno in action.
Catfish & The Bottlemen
Catfish & The Bottlemen might have the most interesting band name on the list. These lads are from Llandudno, Wales and recently released their debut album, The Balcony, last fall. With lovely indie rock riffs similar to Vampire Weekend or the1975, these lads are one to watch.
Cheerleader is a great indie-pop-rock band that is creating some memorable music as of late. The Philadelphia-based band released an EP last year and just recently released their newest track, “The Sunshine of Your Youth”, which is a pretty addicting listen.
CIKATRI$ is a band from Sweden that sings in French. Their instrument of choice is the keytar, so we would really like to see this translated live.
South African-born but now Nashville-based Civil Twilight return with new music and another round at SXSW. They’re probably the most well-known band on the list, but still definitely underrated – their live set is one you don’t want to miss. The vocals of Steven McKeller are always spot on and they have a great energy live.
CRUISR is producing some really addicting indie pop that you just want to put on repeat. The band is from Philadelphia, PA and they just released their sophomore EP All Over last year on Vagrant Records.
Fatherson is one of our top Scottish bands to check out at this year’s festival. They released their debut album I Am An Island last year, and it was a solid indie rock debut. If you are a fan of another great Scottish rock band, We Were Promised Jetpacks, you will probably dig Fatherson.
Jukebox The Ghost
Jukebox The Ghost is a great indie rock band we are looking forward to seeing at this year’s festival. They recently released their fourth eponymous LP with the following track, “The Great Unknown”.
We have quite a few Leon Bridges fans here and we are excited for this talented singer-songwriter to finally get the recognition he deserves. With a blues-gospel-soul foundation, he is paving his way to success.
Made Violent is a great punky-rock band from Buffalo, NY that is going to be worth checking out. They recently released their debut self-titled, five-track EP earlier this year. We also did a Q&A with the boys and are excited about seeing their live set finally.
These DIY rockers from Washington, D.C. just released a stellar, self-titled EP that received a rave review from us, so we are definitely wanting to catch the live set of these guitar heavy rockers.
Public Service Broadcasting
PSB is one we have already covered this year, including a review of “The Race For Space”. Their live sets are not one to miss, as it is an audio and visual experience that you will not forget. Public Service Broadcasting is out there creating unique and memorable music using recorded messages from our past.
Sarah Bethe Nelson
We are already fans of Sarah Bethe Nelson, sharing her awesome track “Paying” and we are really looking forward to her performances this year at the festival. Her debut album, Fast Moving Clouds, is out March 10. We can’t get enough of the new track and are really looking forward to her release as well (album review on Monday).
Another band from our 2014 Best Albums list – Slothrust is one we don’t want to miss live. With sounds reminiscent of Weezer and Dinosaur, JR. we are excited about Slothrust being in Austin this year.
We have decided we love the SXSW festival because half of the bands on our 2014 Best Albums list are going to be there. Springtime Carnivore‘s (a.k.a. Greta Morgan) dazzling debut album was included on the list for the poignant songwriting and the masterful homage to pop music of the past. Now we get to live this musical journey live.
The Twilight Sad
We have another Scottish band on our list, and The Twilight Sad are back with an awesome release that came out last fall titled Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave. It will be great to hear some of their new tracks played live.
If their debut album would have come out last year, bets are Viet Cong would have been on our best of list. We gave their self-titled debut rave reviews, and we are excited to see them translate their cathartic and explosive sound in a concert environment.
One of the great songwriters of her generation, we are patiently awaiting Katie Crutchfield’s forthcoming album Ivy Tripp, and we really really hope a few new tracks are played this month in Austin. Here is the latest track “Air” to tie us over until April 7th.
UK-based Wolf Alice is releasing a new album this year and if “Giant Peach” is any indication of their upcoming album My Love Is Cool, their live set should be mind-blowing.
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