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The 10 Music Acts You Shouldn't Miss at SXSW

SXSWnewImage.jpgIn 2015, everyone's favorite thing about Austin's SXSW Music and Arts Festival is complaining about it. Lines, corporations, brand building, "synergy," fucking brisket -- all of these topics have crossed my Twitter timeline with a sigh and an eye-roll. And it just started today, for chrissakes! With that in mind, I have two pieces of advice: 1.) Don't go, or 2.) Head to Austin and see some cool bands and meet some cool people and get some free shit and eat some good food. And while that sounds simple enough, there will be lines and there will be brand building. Like all things in life, you're going to be disappointed to some degree. If you think you're going to get into every showcase and every party, well, you're bound to have a lousy time. But you also could be stuck in the snow, or at the dentist, or stranded on the Syrian-Turkish border. So lighten up, eat a taco and have some fun. And, if you can, check out a few of these up-and-coming acts that will be playing music they made just so you could hear it.

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Chastity Belt
There's a good chance that more SXSW goers know Chastity Belt for their brilliant promo photos than for their music, but that's almost sure to change. On March 24, the Seattle band are releasing their second great album, Time to Go Home, so their time in Austin should feel like something of a celebration. And given the (deserved) excitement surrounding Time to Go Home and the fact that this year marks the band's first time playing SXSW, expect the Chastity Belt ticket to be a hot one. From sex-positive party jams to odes to overindulgence to songs about regretting some of that overindulgence, it's safe to say they'll fit in just fine.
Wednesday, March 18, midnight at 720 Club Patio, 720 Red River St.


For those of us who spent our winter months digging out of the snow, the Austin spring sunshine will be doing many a body good this week. And nothing pairs better with Austin spring sunshine than some good old fashioned indie-pop. Enter Toronto's Alvvays, whose lovely and lovesick self-titled debut album was a surprise hit last year, thanks in part to single "Archie, Marry Me," the new anthem for hopeless romantics everywhere. If you're single and a little twee, their set at the Main Thursday night is a must.
Thursday, March 13, 9pm at The Main, 604 Old Pecan St.

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Fetty Wap
If what teenagers on the subway blare over their speakerphones is any indication (and it often is), Fetty Wap's set at the Fool's Gold showcase is going to be jammed. The Patterson, New Jersey native's weirdly endearing smash "Trap Queen" has become a club and radio fixture in recent months (it has 13.5 million Youtube views to date), landing the rapper a deal with Lyor Cohen's 300 Entertainment. But perhaps more important than the 18-to-24 vote is the much-coveted Kanye West co-sign, which came in the form of Yeezus inviting Fetty onstage at his Roc City Classic show in NYC last month.
Friday, March 20, Time TBA at Gypsy Lounge, 1504 E. 4th St.

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Girl Band
That name, I know, I know. But Ireland's Girl Band -- who smash together noisy no-wave and industrial styles and still come off like a pub band -- are worth some of your time and attention. Take "Lawman," off their debut EP The Early Years due out in April on Rough Trade, a queasy thumper that clocks in at a relentless six minutes. Granted their set might be a little light in that Early Years only features three original tracks (plus an excellent cover of Beat Happening's "I Love You" and a less-than-excellent cover of Blawan's "Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage"), but Girl Band display enough deranged physicality to make the argument for quality over quantity stick.
Saturday, March 21, 1am at Latitude 30, 512 San Jacinto Blvd.


More people should've paid more attention to Honeyblood's very good self-titled debut last year, so use this opportunity to get more familiar. The Glasgow duo of Shona McVicar and Stina Tweeddale write songs about dirtbag boyfriends with awesome hooks, perfect for cathartically slurry sing-alongs. Like a poisoned candy apple, Honeyblood's alterna-pop balances just the right amounts of sugar and spice.
Saturday, March 21, 8pm at Latitude 30, 512 San Jacinto Blvd.


Billing themselves as a "funktronica" act, the LA duo Thrillers, which consists of real-life brothers Jeremy and Gregory Pearson, has garnered a few famous fans in anticipation of their debut EP Cotton Candy Kisses (due in April). Solange and Twin Shadow have both given the brothers their stamp of approval, and it makes sense: If "Can't Get Enough" is any indication, with it's unapologetically retro but surprisingly soulful sound, Thrillers are bound to convert more than a few more new fans this week, both famous and not.
Friday, March 20th, 7pm at Firehouse Lounge, 605 Brazos St.; Saturday, March 21, noon at The Main, 604 Old Pecan St.

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Sheer Mag
Quite possibly the best garage rock band in America right now, Philadelphia's Sheer Mag not only sound great on the stereo -- their debut self-titled 7" showcases the band's love of hooky '70s guitar rock -- but their live sets have become something of legend. So while their late night, showcase-closing set at Hotel Vegas next Wednesday is sure to be packed, it's also sure to be worth it. Also: Loud, sweaty and fun.
Wednesday, March 18, 1:15am at Hotel Vegas, 1500 E. 6th St.

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Tobias Jesso Jr.
Between Matthew E. White, Father John Misty and now Tobias Jesso Jr., the '70s singer-songwriter revival is officially a thing. For Jesso, the road has been a long one: After failing to make it in LA as a songwriter, he moved back home, started working on some songs of his own, and soon found himself as one of the most talked about new acts of 2015. With his debut Goon dropping this week, the pressure will be on for Jesso this SXSW, or as much as it can be for a mop-headded guy who writes really earnest love songs.
Friday, March 20, 8:30pm at Central Presbyterian Church, 200 E. 8th St.

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Tunji Ige
Making music in your dorm can lead to some pretty amazing things (just ask Rick Rubin), and 19-year-old Tunji Ige is likely hyper aware of this. The rapper and producer works out of his West Chester University dorm's basement, which birthed his first mixtape The Love Project. Ige has a melodically-inclined flow and often sings, so it's easy for most to compare him to Drake and move along. But it's Ige's eclectic tastes -- as evidenced on singles like the infectious "Day2Day" and "Ball Is Life" -- that make him such an exciting prospect this week.
Friday, March 20, 12:20am at Trinity Hall at Old School, 401 E. 6th St.


For a guy who calls himself "Club Godzilla" and makes music for strip clubs, what you see is what you get with BeatKing. Long a fixture of the Houston underground scene, BeatKing's NC-17 rhymes and booty-jiggling bass are now perking up ears outside of H-Town. Willfully un-PC and frequently funny, BeatKing isn't for everyone, but will no doubt be on the radar of anyone looking for a proper turn-up function.
Thursday, March 19, 11:40pm at The Roosevelt Room, 307 W. 5th St.

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