30 Must-See Acts at SXSW 2019 (FESTIVAL PREVIEW)

Ah yes, the annual week of debauchery and good times is upon us once again. No, not Mardi Gras – South By Southwest (SXSW) – that annual time of year when the music community convenes to give itself a collective and drunken pat on the back and also where we all look towards the next big thing. It is a week of incredible music and incredible unpredictability, which is precisely why it has always been so goddamn exciting.

There are well over a thousand bands playing this year’s SXSW and we can’t promise to cover even a fraction of what’s out there, but we will certainly try. This list put together by Glide’s Associate Editor Neil Ferguson with the help of contributors Greg Ackerman and Tim O’Neill, is composed of acts we think you’ll love. Hopefully these picks will get you excited and help guide your planning, but we encourage you to do some digging of your own.

Altameda

This Canadian quartet just dropped their new album Time Hasn’t Changed You and it is one of the first great releases of the year. Their sound falls in an alt-country vein, reminiscent of acts like the Jayhawks and early Wilco. They write the kind of straightforward songs that balance heartfelt lyricism and rock and roll, and are sure to make a splash in Austin. –Neil Ferguson

Andy Jenkins

The Richmond, VA troubadour mixes twangy folk with a paisley-meets-power pop sound that feels at once familiar and like nothing you’ve heard. He isn’t afraid to tap into throwback sounds that evoke the psychedelic 70s work of acts like George Harrison, but there is also a laid back Southern rock groove to the music that is always present. –Neil Ferguson

Art d’Ecco

Glam rock from the Pacific Northwest? You don’t say! In the vein of David Bowie, T Rex and Sparks comes the flamboyantly awesome Art d’Ecco. There is a small sector of acts out there trying to tackle such a lofty mélange of musical styles, and Art d’Ecco nails it with spunky rock anthems that are catchy as hell and definitely meant for dancing. –Neil Ferguson

The Beths

Australia and New Zealand have been killing the rock game for the last several years, most notably with the breakout of Courtney Barnett at SXSW 2015. Auckland’s The Beths are a fine example of the beautiful things happening in the world of poppy rock music these days. Smart and straightforward vocals courtesy of lead singer Elizabeth Stokes, pretty harmonies, and the occasional dose of heavy guitar shredding make this quartet an act to watch. –Neil Ferguson

Black Pumas

The saying in Austin is everything band founder Adrian Quesada touches turns to gold. The Grammy-winning founding guitarist of Grupo Fantasma might have his most exciting project yet in Black Pumas. The group featuring soul singer Eric Burton who have yet to release their debut album (this summer) were recently crowned Best New Band with Best Song at the Austin Music Awards. ­-Greg Ackerman

The Brother Brothers

Identical twins who share a love of folk music, The Brother Brothers just released their album Some People Know back in October. While the blood harmonies of acts like The Cactus Blossoms and The Milk Carton Kids can be heard here, The Brothers are more nuanced as they let their own voices shine at the right moments. They are also a bit more rooted in country music as opposed to rockabilly and tweed folk, with plenty of fiddle playing, twangy guitar, and organ. –Neil Ferguson

The Bright Light Social Hour

Staking their name on bluesy, anthemic rock with their self-titled debut, The Bright Light Social Hour have switched gears to a more experimental approach to song-writing with their third full-length, Jude Vol .I Their fantastic new album features elements of Afrobeat, Kraut-rock with an atmospheric, psychedelic twist. In short, TBLSH are a hard to classify but easy to like foursome of extremely talented musicians. -Greg Ackerman

CHAI

Straight from Japan comes self-proclaimed “new exciting onna (woman) band CHAI. A four-piece all-girl group, CHAI set out to change people’s perception of kawaii with their colorfully animated electro-rock and a fresh sound that is somehow both completely cute and entirely rocking at once.  -Tim O’Neill

Cherry Glazerr

With a name like Clementine Creevy, how can you not be a rock and roller? The frontwoman for LA’s Cherry Glazerr was made for this, with a voice that can switch from shoegazey to punk fury in the span of a single verse. This is, of course, set to a soundtrack of thick, grungy fuzz rock that is at times mellow, but mostly kicks your ass. With their new album Stuffed & Ready, which has a bizarrely awesome cover, Cherry Glazerr are ready to take the music world by storm as the powerful and eclectic rock and roll band we all need. –Neil Ferguson

Claire Morales

Denton, TX has always been a breeding ground for exciting and original music, and Claire Morales is no exception. With a unique falsetto made to float over electric guitars, Morales bring mind that long lost era called the 90s when rock bands that were a little outside the mold of the mainstream actually got record deals and had songs on the radio. In another era, she would be a huge deal, but today she is a bit of a secret, although not for long. Her music is raw and catchy, and her set is not to be missed. –Neil Ferguson

Daddy Long Legs

NYC blues punks Daddy Long Legs are set to lay waste to Austin, leaving booze-blessed stages and wide-eyed revelers in their wake. The trio’s stripped down, gutsy and invigorated arcane blues styles make Daddy a must-see act for anyone who’s ever been left feeling slightly downtrodden and disheartened by many of today’s “blues-rock” groups and in need of a reaffirmation of faith. -Tim O’Neill

Dirty Fences

Brooklyn party boys Dirty Fences like playing their hopped-up party-rock the way it was meant to be played: fast, loose and loud, and their shows are guaranteed to be raucous, beer-drenched affairs. The Fences have professed that their best performances happen at Hotel Vegas, so don’t miss their Saturday set at Burger Records’ Burgermania 8 where they play alongside a slew of other notable acts including some from this list, like CHAI and Daddy Long Legs. -Tim O’Neill

Gabriella Cohen

Whimsical, offbeat lyrics and upbeat guitar is the cornerstone of Cohen’s sound. Much of her music carries a lo-fi, garage rock vibe with touches of the Velvet Underground and even surf rock. She isn’t trying to make huge triumphant songs, but rather little groovy meditations on life, and there is something oddly peaceful and comforting about it. –Neil Ferguson

Garcia Peoples

This Rutherford, New Jersey foursome has been playing the jam band circuit, appearing at the Brooklyn Bowl last week with Grateful Shred, an instrumental Grateful Dead tribute act. But they’re less a jam band than a rock band with a penchant for extended improvisational interplay. -Greg Ackerman

Kate Teague

Swooning dream pop from Mississippi is the mellow music you’ll be craving at SXSW. Teague is part of a wave of indie acts from the South who defy the stereotypes of what music from that region sounds like. Smart lyrics and light, guitar-driven grooves are always at the center of Teague’s music. –Neil Ferguson

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires

Hard-hitting, politically charged rock and roll from Alabama. This ain’t your shitkicker Southern rock, but rather what would happen if Bernie Sanders wrote songs, jumped on tables, and cranked up the volume as loud as possible. In these turbulent times where daily resistance is absolutely necessary, the Glory Fires are an essential band. –Neil Ferguson

Moving Panoramas

This Austin trio founded by singer and guitarist Leslie Sisson has morphed into a sextet and is a likely breakout act this SXSW. The indie-pop shoegazers’ sophomore album In Two topped non-commercial charts before the record dropped two weeks ago. Tracks “ADD Heart” and “Baby Blues” both have hooks that grab the listener by the ears and don’t let go. -Greg Ackerman

PowerSolo

Despite what the band name might suggest, PowerSolo is a trio and a weird one at that. In a similar psychobilly vein to acts like Bloodshot Bill, these Danes have a speedy, unhinged style that makes their live shows fun as hell. There aren’t many bells and whistles here, just straight up high-octane rock and roll aimed at getting your ass shaking. –Neil Ferguson

Ratboys

At first glance you might think a band called Ratboys is a scuzzy punk band, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Fronted by Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan with the former doing most of the singing, this Chicago outfit offers a refreshing take on alt-country. Their recently released EP GL (“Good Luck”) blends indie rock sensibilities with plenty of twangy pedal steel and beautiful harmonies.  –Neil Ferguson

Sávila

One might hear Sávila and think they hail from Spain or somewhere in Latin America, but this trio in fact comes from the Pacific Northwest where they happen to be one of the most exciting bands in Portland, OR. With percussion and dreamy surf rock-like guitar at the core of their sound, Sávila find inspiration in cumbia, Latin, corridos, and world music, and they exude a sort of worldly coolness. –Neil Ferguson

Smokey Brights

Fist-pumping rock anthems and woke lyrics come together for some of the most infectious tunes you’ll hear in a while. The music of Smokey Brights is meant to make you happy and make you want to dance. –Neil Ferguson

Sudakistan

If ever there was proof that music has no boundaries, Sudakistan is it. They hail from Sweden and are considered one of the country’s best live acts now, but only one band member is actually from Sweden with the other four all coming from South America. Latin sounds can be heard in their music as the band throws them into a potent cocktail of punk and psych rock. This translates to explosive performances that go from thrashing guitars to downright trippiness. –Neil Ferguson

Sun June

These self-styled “regret pop” musicians led by former Moving Panoramas keyboardist and vocalist is a sleeper SXSW buzz act waiting to happen. Bandleader Laura Colwell’s songs have a way of creeping into your consciousness in a way that is surprising until one day you realize you’ve been streaming their lovely songs more than you thought. -Greg Ackerman

Think No Think

Austin prog-rock group Think No Think put out a well-received debut, Silent City, in 2017 that garnered praise from local critics. The trio led by John Dewey (guitar, vox) makes loud, noisy guitar rock that oscillates from post-punk minimalism to proggy jams with a psych-rock bent. -Greg Ackerman

Twanguero

If you’re looking for some serious guitar action at SXSW, this is the act for you. Led by Diego Garcia, this Spanish group plays mostly instrumental music with an array of Spanish and Cuban musical styles and plenty of shredding. On their 2015 album Pachuco, there is a song called “Rockabilly Mambo”, the title of which pretty much sums up their awesome sound. –Neil Ferguson

Valley Maker

Seattle-based Valley Maker – the songwriting project of Austin Crane – recently released a new album called RhododendronThe album was immediately striking for its subtle yet powerful tone. Crane composes songs that feel in tune with nature and also the way we as humans interact with our surroundings. Though he’s originally from South Carolina, Crane’s brand of psychedelic and at times quiet folk feels influenced by the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. –Neil Ferguson

Vandoliers

Red Dirt Rock at its finest with this gang of revelers who straddle the line between country, punk, Americana, and blue collar rock and roll. The band just released their new album on Bloodshot Records and it’s a scorcher that begs to be seen live, where one can only imagine they know how to have a real rowdy time. –Neil Ferguson

Viagra Boys

Sweden clearly fucks because these punks are stone cold rockers. Frenzied sax and spazzmatic guitars meet a relentlessly fast groove and the darkly humorous, deadpan vocal delivery of tattoo-covered frontman Sebastian Murphy, who has a darkly humorous lyrical style. Their music video for “Sports” will have you hooked, plus it’s hilarious. Full disclosure: this is the band I am most excited to see at SXSW. –Neil Ferguson

The Waco Brothers

Longstanding veterans and perhaps kings of SXSW the Waco Brothers are sure to deliver wild and reckless live sets with their brand of ass-kicking cow-punk. Don’t get it crossed, the Wacos may be on the older side in terms of bands playing the festival but their performances are more electrifying, unpredictable, and downright fun than any band you’re likely to see all week. Be sure to catch this menagerie of merry hooligans at the Bloodshot Records showcase where they traditionally close out the party with a resounding bang. -Tim O’Neill

Yola

This British songstress has been making waves on both sides of the pond with her honey sweet style of country soul. She has a gorgeous voice that lends itself to the old school Nashville arrangements with strings and all on her fabulous new album Walk Through Fire, which was produced by Dan Auerbach. Definitely catch her if you can because she has a buzz already and after SXSW will most likely be moving onto bigger venues. –Neil Ferguson

SXSW takes place March 8-17 in Austin, Texas. For more info visit sxsw.com.

Stay tuned to Glide for more SXSW coverage! 

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