Influencers, musicians, actors, tech leaders and educators from all over the globe make their annual pilgrimage to Austin every March to partake the event that encompasses every facet of the the multimedia world. For 31 years now, SXSW has been the epicenter of pop culture.
As the two week long affair transitions from education, to interactive, to film, to comedy, then finally music; we have wholeheartedly enjoyed witnessing the magic from start to finish. Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen some pretty amazing shows, and discovered some soon-to-be sensations. Check them out below, because these bands are a can’t-miss when they're in your city.
This six-piece Dallas outfit have been known to serve as the backing band to some of the most phenomenal acts in country, americana, bluegrass, and folk music. Throughout the week, the Gents could be found playing shows with Willie Nelson, Nikki Lane, and Nathaniel Rateliff at Willie’s Luck Ranch. On Friday, March 16th, the Gents hosted a Jerry Garcia tribute show that opened its doors to every hippie in town. The event featured Ed Jurdi of the Band of Heathens, Erika Wennerstrom of the Heartless Bastards, Christopher Porterfield of Field Report, Nicole Atkins, and Rayland Baxter. The two hour jam session was a much needed escape from the hectic week of non-stop shows.
The neo-soul/hip hop group was flawless. Their set had the quality of soft, spoken word, their lyrics creating a sort of hypnotic poetry. Tank breathed life into an exhausted crowd. Their melodic jazz, funk and hip-hop riffs were infectious and evidence of their innumerable musical talents.
Fresh off their movie debut in Pitch Perfect 3 and the release of their second studio record, Whiskey Shivers are about as real as it gets. In keeping with their bluegrass roots, these guys are still rocking every show barefooted. Their live shows are rough around the edges and gritty with lots of soul in their harmonies—a classic barnyard hootenanny.
Having released their self-titled debut album earlier this month, the UK collective Superorganism was a monumental surprise for all festival goers.They entered stage right, donning hooded rain jackets and holding tambourines equipped with fringes, and opened with their lead track “It’s All Good”. They hit the crescendo at 90 seconds and, in sync, threw off their hoods. The rest of their set was nothing short of epic.
Chloe Chaidez is a one-woman show with fierce vocals and stamina for days. Her brainchild, Kitten, is a refreshing throwback to the ‘80s new wave era. They won me over with a gripping cover of the Cranberries’ timeless hit, “Dream.” Their take on the song was brilliant, moving, and had me feeling choked up and reaching for a hanky I didn’t possess several times throughout the set. I did my best to hold back the tears as she belted out the final solo of the song. If Chaidez absolutely nailing the song in tribute to Dolores O’Riordan doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will.
LA based Kolars, has fully mastered the art of wooing a crowd. Hot off their March 11 set at Gasparilla Music Fest in Tampa Bay, the desert disco duo made the 17 hour drive to Austin just in time to play a 6:30 PM Strange Brew set at Hotel Vegas on March 12; arriving in time for load in and dinner. Rob Kolar on vocals and guitar exuded nothing but pure energy—a throwback reminiscent of the ‘50s rockabilly sound yet totally new wave. Lauren Brown, puts her own unique spin on drumming—upright while tap dancing through the entire set. This duo had me rock-stepping the night away.
The LA native was the most highly anticipated rapper to hit SXSW this year. At the BMI SXSW Takeover, the rising artist showed us how he masterfully blends funk and hip hop. He had the entire crowd bouncing around from start to finish.
Early this year, the Brooklyn-based surf-pop punk group underwent a massive lineup change, going with an all female front and appeared in their new formation at SXSW. High Waisted is no longer the Jessica Louise Dye show, as she now shares the stagefront with two other talented women. Andrea Scanniello rocks the bass, and Talay’s Megan Talay also joined the fold on guitar. Her solos are en fuego and add texture to the group’s sound. High Waisted clocked in the some of the most shows at SXSW this year; a feat that is especially impressive, when you take into account the fact that they’ve only been playing in their current lineup for less than a month. These ladies have been shredding and melting faces all week and leaving a trail of glitter and broken hearts in their wake.
The Strokes guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr, hit the road early this year to support his fourth solo record Francis Trouble. Then Hammond Jr took SXSW by storm, playing an abridged yet fiery set to the energetic Feedback Party crowd.
Austin local faves, Calliope Musicals, has been steadily on the rise over the past few years. Calliope showcased at the Presbyterian Church—the perfect setting for these psych-pop darlings. Their set was a massive sing-a-long dance party. Their Tuesday Presbyterian showcase was a the perfect start to a jam-packed week. The set was like a warm hug to cap off a busy day.