One of the most exciting aspects of South by Southwest is discovering new acts and enjoying live music at the different venues scattered throughout the city. This year, SXSW has a ton of bands to choose from, so we’ve compiled a list of the 10 bands we think you should definitely check out.
Here is a list of our top 10 bands to see at SXSW 2019:
1. Chasing Nomads
Indie Rock band founded in 2015 by Cesar Saul and Estefano Ramos. Met while studying their passion, music; they decided to create a project that throughout time would turn into a lifestyle. The name “Chasing Nomads” is more of a metaphor, meaning that they see their most influenced artist as nomads, as people that travel across the world sharing their art. Henceforth the name , Chasing Nomads, the band’s wish to share their art with everyone they meet. It was in mid 2017 that the band started taking a more structured shape as they prepared for their debut EP “Lucidity”, this includes a beginning-of-year cover of Sorry by Nothing But Thieves. Now joined by drummer Josh Negron.
Check out Chasing Nomads’ SXSW schedule.
2. Cherry Glazerr
Cherry Glazerr released their explosive full-length album Apocalipstick on Inauguration Day in 2017. You might think the two tumultuous years since would have driven the band toward even more explicitly topical commentary. But as singer/guitarist/founder Clementine Creevy began writing the first of some thirty songs that would make up the new Stuffed & Ready, she found unexpected inspiration by turning inward. That meant leading her band somewhere new and writing songs that would reveal aspects of herself she realized she’d once concealed.
Apocalipstick sizzled with Creevy’s confidence, vision and fiercely idiosyncratic personality. Stuffed & Ready announces Creevy as a songwriter newly tempered and strengthened by coming to terms with her own uncertainty confusion and anger. It’s her go-for-broke honesty that gives Stuffed & Ready its power and gravity. “I am telling my story of how I feel and where I am in life,” she says. “I’m exploring my own self-doubt. I’m confused about what happiness is and I’m searching for my place in the world. With Apocalipstick, I was an over-confident teenager trying to solve the world’s problems.”
Check out Cherry Glazerr’s SXSW schedule.
3. Gong Gong Gong
工工工 (Gong Gong Gong) is the duo of Tom Ng and Joshua Frank. Formed in 2015 in Beijing, China, they make music from the sparest of means: one guitar and one bass, interweaving riffs and rhythms to create forward-charging, drummerless grooves. Their inspirations extend from Bo Diddley to African and Southeast Asian folk music, psychedelic drone, and the structures of electronic music.
Together, the duo explore the concept of “phantom rhythm”—between their two instruments, an aura of ghostly snare hits emerges over a thumping low-end pulse. Atop this framework, Ng sings in his native Cantonese, recounting tales of absurdity and fragmented visions.
Active members of the Chinese music underground, Gong Gong Gong have nonetheless remained an anomaly—outsiders who call Beijing their home. After a series of self-released tapes recorded in underpass tunnels, subterranean art spaces, and on weathered 50-year-old guitars in a Hong Kong high-rise rehearsal studio, Gong Gong Gong released their first US single, Siren 追逐劇 on Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records in November 2018.
4. Lizbeth Roman Y Los Duendes Invisibles
Lizbeth Roman is a puertorrican/caribbean artist known for her musical and theatrical work. The songwriter and “teatrera” has written, directed and presented her original music and plays in and out of Puerto Rico. Lizbeth is known for her histrionic and powerful performances and her genius way of playing with the ‘story telling’. Her style mixes the slang and the poetic. “Lizbeth Román y los duendes invisibles” is the name of her musical concept, the name ‘los duendes invisibles’ refers to the imaginary and the mystical in life and in the creative process. Her songs fusion the everyday language, ‘lo cotidiano’, with Caribbean rhythms. In ‘los duendes invisibles’ her tropical folk style embraces the theatrical, the bohemian and the alternative in a fusion with the latin, the blues, the trova, ‘rumba’, ‘bomba’, bossa , hip hop, and others rhythms.
Her first album“La otra ruta: Live at NewYork” was launched in 2017, it was recorded live in a 2016 New York tour with a bohemian compact version of the band. ‘Lizbeth Román y los duendes invisibles’ had presented locally (in Puerto Rico) and in festivals in Cuba (Festival del Caribe), New York (Loisaida Fest) and Philadelphia.
Check out Lizbeth Roman Y Los Duendes Invisibles’ SXSW schedule.
5. Black Midi
black midi are the enigmatic new London 4-piece that are quickly becoming one of the hottest new underground bands in the UK.
Taut, frenetic, inventive, and with an off-kilter sound that is so completely their own, their first (and only) release ‘bmbmbm’ was recorded in just a few hours with South London producer- Dan Carey, and had to be send to repress in a matter weeks.
Having formed just over year ago, they have already signed to Rough Trade Records, and despite making their name at the modern-day legendary London venue that is The Windmill in Brixton, ‘enigmatic’ doesn’t even cut it. With only the shadow of an online presence, including NTS and KEXP live radio sessions, they primarily exist as a live act, with one of the most exciting live shows around.
black midi are Geordie Greep (vocals/guitar), Cameron Picton(bass/vocals), Matt Kelvin(lead guitar) and Morgan Simpson(drums)
Check out Black Midi’s SXSW schedule.
Liily are five Los Angeles teenagers hailing from deep in the San Fernando Valley to the edges of the Inland Empire. Emerging from a new and burgeoning culture of youths in the city, their wildly frenetic shows point to a new vision for alternative and hard rock music in 2018.
Liily’s local shows reflect that crazed manic intensity. Their fans have turned up to dance and absolutely tear the place apart alongside the band. Having started out playing mostly house parties and warehouses, it’s only recently that the band has started entering into nightclubs to bring that same energy.
“We like our music to make people crazy,” says guitar player Sam De La Torre. “It has a lot of energy. We want to make people move. When we write something, we want it to hit really hard. If we knock people out, we’ve done our job.”
Check out Liily’s SXSW schedule.
VACATIONS are the sweethearts of their hometown, Newcastle, Australia, and beyond. Consisting of Campbell Burns, Jake Johnson, Nate Delizzotti, and Joseph Van Lier. They’ve been steadily building up a fanbase worldwide completely on their own terms and through the internet with a unique blend of indie rock, jazz, and shoe-gaze.
VACATIONS released their debut album ‘Changes’ last year in March. A bittersweet and nostalgic mix of arrangements, ‘Changes’ is multi-layered and rich work recorded almost entirely from home, before the neighbours complained and they had to shift the last of recording to a nearby studio. ‘Changes’ separates them from their contemporaries and highlights their development on all fronts from earlier releases like Vibes and Days.
VACATIONS show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With more touring worldwide and new material on the horizon, it’s early days in this band’s career.
Check out Vacations’ SXSW schedule.
8. Ferris & Sylvester
Ferris & Sylvester are songwriters – With clear references in their catchy setup to the mid-60s sounds of Greenwich Village combined with their meatier blues tones, the pair sit somewhere between Jack White and First Aid Kit. Their clever combination of blues, folk and rock n roll has created a distinctive genre of their own.
The London-based pair met almost three years ago and have since won over the capital with their ever-growing live presence and songwriting. In 2018, the duo released their highly anticipated EP ‘Made In Streatham’ which they self-produced in their South London flat. Released through their own label ‘Archtop Records’, the EP has clocked up millions of plays on Spotify and received widespread praise across the board.
After a monumental year of touring in 2018, F&S now stand poised and ready to launch into the new year as proudly independent songwriters and performers. With their eyes fixed on building up to their debut album, the duo have expanded their sound into a deeper and darker body of work.
‘A rich and fully realised sound that leaves one pining for a full-length.’ – Rolling Stone Magazine
Check out Ferris & Sylvester’s SXSW schedule.
Heavy As the Sun is Löwin’s second release but marks a rebirth in sound for the Austin based quartet. While Royal Jelly (released in 2013) asserted the band as a member of the Austin rock scene, Heavy as the Sun emerges with a more shimmery pop aesthetic on intro tracks “Sake” and “Maybe It’s Over.” Songwriter/singer Sara Houser switches from guitar to keyboards (her primary instrument) to create a uniformly synth centered record. “I wanted the focus of this record to be more lyrically and melodically driven and for me those ideas come the most naturally when I’m playing piano,” explains Houser.
That being said, Heavy as the Sun doesn’t lack dynamics or the bombastic post rock moments that are more present in Löwin’s earlier releases. Amidst the glitz are songs like “Hard to Love” which starts off with heavy hitter Chris DeGeorge and Nate Ribner’s signature bass fuzz but then builds into a B52s inspired banger. Guitarist Michael Sanders shines on “Sloop” and “The Wheel” with tones reminiscent of Real Estate and Johnny Greenwood alike.
Heavy as the Sun was recorded in Austin, TX.
Check out Löwin’s SXSW schedule.
SMiiLE is an experimental pop band based in Austin, TX and born out of a shooting star. They have provided direct support for bands such as Twin Peaks, Ringo Deathstarr, and Temples, and just completed their third national tour.
The band is fronted by singer, guitarist and producer Jake Miles. Annie Long and Mary Bryce fortify the outfit with stunning vocal harmonies, and provide a spectacle at live shows with matching alien-esque attire and singular dance moves. Other members include Harrison Anderson on the bass and Everett Bergstedt on the drums. “Sunny dissonance, avant garde pop, and playful instrumentation inform SMiiLE’s warm sincerity,” says The Austin Chronicle. Instrumentally, SMiiLE is notably polyrhythmic and complex, but with a pop influenced buoyancy that satiates.
Following the release of their first full length album, “Like A Diamond In The Rough, You Shine,” the band united their following with a continually expanding repertoire of new songs. Stay tuned, as they are on track to release 2 singles and a music video every month of 2019.
Check out SMiiLE’s SXSW schedule.
South by Southwest 2019 takes place March 8-17 in Austin, Texas. Make sure to check out our SXSW Spotify playlist below. Good luck and see you there!