6 Acts Everyone Will Be Talking About at SXSW 2019
In just one short week, thousands of music-lovers and Spring-breakers (and a couple of confused tourists) will flock to the streets and nightclubs of Austin for what has come to be one of the most widely-recognized music festivals in the nation: South by Southwest (SXSW). With dozens of acts taking stages all across the city, sorting through who to see vs. who to skip can be an arduous process. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a shortlist of surefire hits, from international indie-rock groups to down-home rap.
By Lydia Gregovic
Four jazz musicians turned college classmates join forces to form New Zealand’s latest breakout indie-rock group: if The Beths’ backstory is unorthodox, it only serves to enhance the off-the-wall, alternative sound the band has become known for. Fronted by lead singer and former trumpet teacher Elizabeth Stokes, the group has been making waves with fans both home and abroad since the release of their freshman album, Future Me Hates Me, this past August. Raw, honest lyrics (if the album title didn’t give it away, Stokes isn’t afraid of a little self-deprecation) and complex, guitar-heavy melodies gives The Beths’ songs a depth rarely found in pop/indie ballads. Check out title track “Future Me Hates Me” to get a taste for the group’s playfully pessimistic tone, then move on to the equally-cheerfully titled “You Wouldn’t Like Me” for a tune that you won’t be able to get out of your head.
Where to see them: Head over to Mohawk at 8:30pm on March 11th to catch this Auckland-based group live before they fly back to the Down Under.
The jazz of Ezra Collective is a far cry from the tastelessly bland elevator music often associated with the genre—rather, the London-based quintet’s work is as dynamic as it is alive, an ever-shifting tapestry of saxophone, piano and trumpet that somehow weaves together into one remarkable musical experience. As a form, jazz has deep roots in working class and minority life, and it is this sense of inventiveness and resistance to mainstream culture that Ezra Collective emulates in their latest EP, Juan Pablo: The Philosopher. By mixing in elements of African and Caribbean traditions such as calypso and Afrobeat, Ezra Collective pushes the limits of what jazz is while staying true to the genre’s heart, producing a sound that above all else, comes straight from the soul.
Where to see them: Pack in all of the UK’s best in one night at the British Music Embassy @ Latitude 30 on March 12th. Ezra Collective plays at 10pm, but be sure to arrive by 8:00 to catch the earlier acts
Hailing from Norman, Oklahoma, indie-rock group BRONCHO first gained national attention with the release of their irresistibly catchy 2014 single “Class Historian”. The group’s newest album, Bad Behavior, continues their reign of success with tracks ranging from the light-hearted “Get in My Car” to the grungier bass riffs of “Sandman”. While Bad Behavior experiments with pop influences more than BRONCHO’s previous work, the album’s energetic vibe combined with strong melodies and playful lyrics prove the group has lost none of its original charm.
Where to see them: If you can’t make BRONCHO’s March 14th show at Augustine, swing by Parish at 1am on the 16th to catch their second performance.
Representing the local music scene this year are Austin natives Sun June, termed a “regret pop” group by SXSW’s official schedule—although there’s certainly nothing regretful about this band’s selection to our list. Since releasing their debut album, Years, this past June, Sun June has already produced an Audiotree Live recording and completed an international tour spanning the UK, Italy, Germany and Belgium. Lead singer Laura Colwell’s dreamy soprano tones wonderfully complement the comforting, ethereal instrumentals which run underneath her melodies. The effect is a lovely sense of nostalgia reminiscent of drinking a warm cup of tea on a rainy morning, a bittersweet, warming sensation sure to leave any listener hooked. With breakout tracks such as “Discotheque” and “Young” already gaining popularity, Sun June is sure to be a SXSW darling—be prepared to wait in line for this one, folks.
Where to see them: Night owls will flock to Sun June’s performance at The Townsend, March 15th at 1am.
“Yeah baby, it’s the PNTHN, baby.” The opening line of 9-man rap group PNTHN’s (pronounced ‘pantheon’) hit song “chumbucket”, spoken in a low, seductive drawl, perfectly encapsulates the act’s gritty, homegrown style that fans have grown to love. Born in San Marcos and comprised of members from all across Texas, PNTHN draws deeply from their Southern roots, incorporating aspects of soul music and old-school hip hop into their tracks. After releasing their first EP, Potluck, in March of 2018, PNTHN cemented their place among Texas’s most promising rap groups when they dropped a follow-up EP, Rico, only three months later. And with seven rappers, an in-house DJ and winning tracks like “El Salvador” and “Henry Dreams”, PNTHN is just getting started.
Where to see them: Start of your SXSW 2019 right by seeing PNTHN perform at Indra’s Awarehouse at 10pm, March 8th.
With Run It Again, their sophomore album (and first album since 2013) releasing just last week, Criminal Hygiene is the kind of classic punk rock band that makes you long for the days of broken curfews and secret after-school rendezvous. Tracks like “Dangers of Convenience” and the more laid back “Greetings from a Postcard” are strongly reminiscent of The Replacements, mixing catchy guitar riffs with choruses that you can’t help but sing along to. More than that, though, Criminal Hygiene’s songs are fun. They embody rebelliousness in its most simple, Hollywood form, highlighting all of the mischief with none of the consequences. Whether you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia or simply on the hunt for a new favorite song, one thing is for certain—Criminal Hygiene is here to provide a glimpse of punk rock’s glory days and prove that we’re still very much in them.
Where to see them: Head down to Barracuda Backyard March 15th at 11:45pm to see the boys of Criminal Hygiene in action.