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The dA-Zed guide to SXSW buzz bands

The 26 essential bands, singers, rappers and producers playing for the baying industry in the soggy Austin sun this week

It is, as has been mentioned before, SXSW this weekend. The new music world's biggest tradefair, set in the weirdest town in Texas. And every year tens of thousands of audience members, A+Rs, digital label consultants and spring breakers tear through looking for the proverbiakl next big thing. So, we decided to pull together a quick list of 26 tips, whether you're there or here. For those mopping last night's Mojhito from your brow and wondering which band to see between tech stands and sponsored BYOB BBQs, or just a reader in search of some good new tunes in handily alphateticised form, dig in, read the list and play through tracks above.

Absolutely Free 

Totonto four-piece Absolutely Free describe themselves as "" on their Facebook page, which may as well be the waveform for their oscillating art-punk, where electronic rhythms shine through guitar clatter. The band is composed of four of DD/MM/YYYY's members, and in their bloopy song collages, Stereolab-esque pulses morph into heady, Black Mountain-esque guitar fuzz freak outs.

Saturday, March 16 1:00AM - 1:50AM, Valhalla


The Toronto-based duo on No Pain In Pop have a taut line in C86-ish dreampop that would sound perfect with the blurry edges of the first bloody mary of the day. Jesse of the band recently told us how proud she was of her gong-playing on the record, and you don't pass up a gig with someone playing a gong do you?

Saturday, March 16 11:00PM -11:40PM, Empire Control Room

Casey Veggies

With his easy, witty flow and predilection for skunk in the Sauna, ex-Odd Future member and Cali native Veggies is one of the most likeable rappers around. He'll be taking his playful stage presence to South By in support of his latest mixtape Life Changes .

Saturday, March 16 12:45AM - 1:15AM, StubHub Live @ Old School


The Estonian-born chanteuse will be briging her cash and diamond rings to Austin for the weekend. Her swaggy wordplay is still in its early stages, but we hear MIA mixed with a brighter DIY pop bent. In a tragic oversight however, someone has neglected give her a show in a swimming pool. 

Thursday, March 14 11:00PM -11:40PM, The Tap Room at Six & Friday, March 15 12:00AM -12:30AM, Karma Lounge

Empress Of

Labelmate to Solange on Terrible Records, Empress Of's swirling pop songs are super-swoony, with her generous come-ons and ambrosia vocals. Her songs aren't a million miles away from the palette that Glasser and Chairlift paint from, and SXSW may well catapult her to the recognition enjoyed by those acts. 

Saturday, March 16 9:00PM - 9:40PM, Mohawk Outdoor

French Montana

Cocaine City's finest has cleaned up his swagger since signing to Bad Boy, but his live show still mixes mixtape cuts with the glossy dancehall rhythms of a new song like 'Freaks', which samples the Chaka Demus & Pliers' iconic "Murder She Wrote". Will Nicki show up? Who can say! (no)

Saturday, March 16 7:30PM - 8:00PM, Fader Fort

Girl Unit

Night Slugs' finest's bright and buzzy take on electronic music is a one-track highway to euphoria as it draws on funk, disco and weird house, with with a touch of torrid gloom to make the high points shine brighter. Hope they bring their LinnDrum - the zippy piece of kit heard in Girl Unit's 'Ensemble' that was favoured in 80s synthpop like 'Boys of Summer' and 'Take On Me'. 

Saturday, March 16 1:00AM - 2:00AM, Easy Tiger

Holy Balm

Sydney-based take their scruffy synth-led party pop to South By, and will be appearing on their label Not Not Fun's showcase on the 15th alongside acts including Xander Harris Maria Minerva. Last year they told us that when they perform it's a "sweaty time with lots of dancefloor moves. We like to mess around with the structures of our music, let it ride itself and the audience." Amazing!

Saturday, March 16 8:00PM - 8:40PM, Maggie Mae's Rooftop & Friday, March 15 11:00PM -11:50PM, The Hideout


The 90s Aged brothers' debut No World was about finding a new world through their R&B and soul influences. In their live performances, their sensual tracks stretch into 10-minute-pushing loungey tinkles with riffs drenched in reverb. Get loose to their boogie love songs. 

Joey Bada$$

Fake IDs at the ready for Joey Bada$$, who's bringing the Pro Era from from Brooklyn to Austin this weekend. Expect packed venues for the yung rap prodigy, who'll be performing cuts from last year's 1999 mixtape.

Thursday, March 14 1:20AM - 2:00AM, The North Door, Thursday, March 14 9:45PM -10:05PM, Brazos Hall, Thursday, March 14 8:30PM - 9:00PM, Hangar Lounge, Friday, March 15 12:30AM - 1:30AM, Lucille


An LA musician leaning towards the artier end of the scene's spectrum, Kelela teamed up with Teengirl Fantasy last year on 'EFX', a highlight of their album Tracer where she sang Barely touching/ That's how we started like a modern soul diva over the airy, highly-danceable synth pattern. Kelela's performing at the Fade to Mind/Night Slugs after-hours part alongside names like Bok Bok and Kindgom, likely previewing her forthcoming solo material and collaborating with the other names on the bill. 

Saturday, March 16 11:30PM -12:10AM, Mohawk Indoor


Dazed, and many many, others, been banging on about this extraordinary rapper for months, and the New York rapper is taking a trip down to the boggy Austin heat – and the soggy A+R handshakes can't be that far behind. Bright, bare, true – this is rap for the second golden age. 

Wednesday, March 13 12:00AM -12:30AM, Stubb’s


The vogue maestro and ballroom house DJ will be behind the booth at a number of shows, and we can guarantee SXSW's party crowd will follow him like blogs to Azealia Banks' twitter beef. He DJed at our Dazed House Ball last month, where he layered R&B chanteuse's coos over arpeggaited beats - we can recommend this from one first-hand experience. 

Friday, March 15 8:00PM - 8:40PM, The Madison

Nguzunguzu & Total Freedom

The LA-based doyennes of dance will be playing the aforementioned Fade To Mind/Nightslugs party. When we saw Nguzunguzu last year it was a wholly unusual experience dancing to their jagged-edge electronic set with its oddly oscillating rhythms. Check out Total Freedom (aka Ashland Mines) at the same party - when he played at Boiler Room LA he mashed together Rihanna and a Turkish canticle from Abdurrahman Önül. 

Friday, March 15 9:30PM -10:55PM, The Madison

OG Ron C 

One of the founders of the chopped'n'screwed style alongside DJ Screw, Houston's finest OG Ron C will be doing a set at SXSW with Chopstars. While the trend for ChopNotSlop has recently come back around, it's a rare change to see a live set one of the names that made the subgenre what it is today. 

Saturday, March 16 8:00PM - 8:15PM, The Main & Friday, March 15 10:20PM -10:45PM, 404 Austin    

Peggy Hsu

Taiwanese singer and multi-instrumentalist is one of the more unconventional names on the lineup, which also features the K-Pop band f(x) and, um, Charlotte Church. With an odd, tender beauty, she quaveringly and quickly speak-sings. This is the kind of thing we'd like to see the morning after to soothe us back to consciousness. 

Thursday, March 14 12:00AM -12:40AM, Meduse Lounge

Quay Meanz

A member of the Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang Records cohort alongside Juicy J and Lola Monroe, Quay Meanz is one of Pittsburgh's most hotly tipped emerging rappers. His recent track 'Long Day' lifted the skittering synth pattern and chorus from Ellie Goulding's 'Lights' in a tale of "good weed and bad hoes". Hopefully he finds what he's looking for in the alley behind the taco stand. 

Saturday, March 16 11:25PM -11:35PM, Suite 101

Ryan Hemsworth

Everything this guy touches is buffed to a spit-and-shine glimmer. At their best, his R&B-inspired remixes become the definitive version of the song - like his interpretations of 'Pull Me Down' and 'Manhattan' - where he recruited Angel Haze for a twisted trap take on the midtempo. 

Thursday, March 14 12:05AM -12:25AM, 1100 Warehouse & Friday, March 15 11:00PM -11:40PM, 512 Rooftop


Phantasmagoric unease, yes please. Austin band S U R V I V E take their synths down to the venues of their hometown, playing the Moog Music/Switched On showcase, where they'll create creepy pulsating soundscapes with fellow vocoder-enthusiasts Austra and Xeno & Oaklander. 

Saturday, March 16 10:00PM -10:40PM, Elysium

Trash Talk

Legendary for their chaotic live shows, Sacremento hardcore outfit Trash Talk will be repping their label Odd Future and supporting their current album '119' in their appearances. If there's any band likely to bring the anarchy this year - like Off Future and A$AP Rocky brawling in recent memory - it's these dudes. 

Friday, March 15 1:15AM - 1:55AM, Mohawk Outdoor & Wednesday, March 13 1:00AM - 2:00AM, Scoot Inn

Useless Eaters

I guess that punk getting eaten. It's all elbows for DIY Nashville four-piece Useless Eaters with their bratty 80s-inspired tunes with the cavalier strut of Wire or The Stooges. They'll be taking their taut riffs and call-and-resposnse harmonies to SXSW to throw a release party (with free pizza and beer!) for their new record 'Hypertension'.

Thursday, March 14 11:10PM -11:50PM, Metal & Lace Lounge & Saturday, March 16 1:15AM - 1:45AM, Hotel Vegas/Volstead

Vinyl Williams

A couple of weeks ago Vinyl Williams talked us through his latest technlor visual - an interactive visual world. "In a sense you can jam with it," he said. He's bringing his famously immersive live shows to Austin to throw his roomy disco-funk into the crowd and invite them to dance. 

Thursday, March 14 10:00PM -10:40PM, Latitude 30


Sydney-based experimental musicians White+ have a fine line in colourful patterns and rhythmic experimentation. In a statement on their Bandcamp they talk of their influences that range from minimalism to German avant-garde - appropriate, then, that they recorded their album in the same studio as Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten.

Thursday, March 14 12:00AM -12:40AM, Soho Lounge


Marcel Everett (aka XXYYXX) of Orlando, Florida makes twisted productions that sound like a Timbaland playing a cavernous cyborg rave. But in a song like 'Alone', the space-funk synth plaintive makes for a surprisingly textured and emotional listen. Catch him at the True Panther Showcase alongside Supreme Cuts and Le1f. 

Friday, March 15 1:00AM - 1:50AM, Maggie Mae's Rooftop & Saturday, March 16 12:00AM -12:40AM, Mohawk Outdoor

Young Fathers

The Anticon signees don't mess around. The Edinburgh three-piece twist hip hop with rock and exotica do make songs as thrilling as they are unpredictable, with unusual and erudite tongue-twisting rap verses. They'll be performing at the Anticon showcase alongside label luminaries WHY? and Baths. 

Tuesday, March 12, 11.10-11.40pm, The North Door

Zebra Katz

One last "reinventing rap from the inside out" band appearing at the once terminally rockist festival is Zebra Katz. We interviewed them with their hero Rick Owens last year, and if you're Texas bound, see what you think. If you're not, listen to their track again and see why you loved them alredy. 

Thursday, March 14 11:25PM -11:50PM, 1100 Warehouse. Friday, March 15 12:35AM -12:55AM, Maggie Mae's Rooftop