SXSW 2016: Artists to Watch

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With thousands of artists from all over the world traveling to Austin for SXSW, narrowing down who to see can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to make that task a little less daunting. We searched the lineup to find the best up-and-coming artists that could quite possibly be some of your favorite shows of the week.

1. The Accidentals

the accidentals

Billboard’s Breakout Band at SXSW 2015, Winner of the Emerging Artist Series, Winner of WYCE’s Album of the Year 2015—and the list goes on. In just two years, The Accidentals recorded three original albums, scored two films, landed song placements in documentaries, independent films and commercials and played over 700 live shows…and then they graduated high school. The group features an eclectic blend of classical, jazz, bluegrass and indie folk and synthesizes a wide variety of instruments that reflect the group’s impressive orchestral roots.

When to see them:

3/16: 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn (8p.m.)

2. Barns Courtney

barns courtney

With an almost accidental launch into the global mainstream, modern day voice and guitar man Barns Courtney is on an exciting (unexpected) journey. After spending most of his childhood in Seattle, Courtney returned to his native UK, and this change comes across clearly in his eclectic mix of US blues-rock, hip-hop and grunge with British indie melodies and an undeniable US-British twang. Courtney’s first track, “Glitter & Gold” was dropped on Soundcloud in September and quickly racked up over forty thousand plays. Another track—“Fire” made it’s way onto the big screen when it caught the ears of Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein who featured it as the main track on the Bradley Cooper-staring film, “Burnt.” With an already impressive start and a debut EP in the works for early next year, Barns Courtney’s journey is an exciting one to follow.

Where to see him:

3/16: Lamberts (10 p.m.)

3/18: Stubb’s (10:40 p.m.)

3/19: Latitude 30 (11 p.m.)

3. Beach Slang

beach slang

In just two short years, Beach Slang have proved themselves as a band that can write memorable songs and create a devoted fan base. With the release of their first full-length album, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us, in November, the band crossed off their only missing element. The group’s tireless love for music and life shines through in the part punk, part pop sound. With youth and vulnerability at the core of each intriguing live show, Beach Slang brings a sound that will stay with you long after they leave the stage.

Where to see them:

3/16: Cheer Up Charlie’s (10:30 p.m)

3/18: The Sidewinder Outside (1 a.m.)

3/18: SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird (6 p.m.)

4. Cicada Rhythm


What happens when you combine articulate guitar picking with Julliard-trained bass lines? Chilling harmonies, unbridled passion and sincere enthusiasm—a sound that basically sums up Cicada Rhythm. The Georgia-raised duo meanders through the fields of folk, rock and Americana, modernizing each to a chilling degree. Reminiscent and filled with imagery, the lyrics this act brings to the stage tell an invigorating story. Cicada Rhythm has the ability to captivate listeners with the first pick of the guitar.

Where to see them:

3/16: The Velveeta Room (10 p.m.)

5. Dilly Dally



Like the eclectic city they live in, Toronto four-piece band Dilly Dally cannot be defined by just one thing. The band has a mutual appreciation for slurred poetry, pop ballads and grunge-heavy guitars, and these elements are evident in each and every song. Dilly Dally has made a name for themselves amongst Toronto’s noise-punk scene and there’s no doubt they will bring the same energy and overall awesomeness to the SXSW stage.

Where to see them:

3/17: Hype Hotel (10 p.m.)

6. DMA’s


On the heels of their debut album, Hills End, DMA’s are only at the beginning of a promising journey. The Australian rockers epitomize the laid-back lifestyle of their home country and have a sound that is too inviting to be ignored. The record combines each individual’s own influences—folk artists like Bob Dylan, American guitar bands from the 90s, and English bands like The Stone Roses and The La’s—into one enormous sound. Although only just beginning, DMA’s are on the brink of a successful journey to success.

Where to see them:

3/17: Radio Day Stage (5 p.m.)

3/17: Parish (1 a.m.)

3/18: Stubb’s (8 p.m.)

7. Japanese Breakfast


A side project from her work as front woman of indie punk band Little Big League, Michelle Zauner released a tape in 2013 under the name Japanese Breakfast. The solo project showcases Zauner’s dark lyrics and unique vocals—a stark contrast to the guitar-based indie rock of Little Big League. Now, Japanese Breakfast is in full-force with the LP and vinyl release of Psychopomp. The album explores new interests, hosts a variety of sounds and chilling new vocals, making it one to watch out for at this year’s festival.

Where to see them:

3/17: Barracuda Backyard (8 p.m.)

8. The Kickback


The modern indie rock group gathered praise from a number of publications including Rolling Stone, SPIN and Chicago Sun Times after the release of a few EPs. With the release of their debut album, Sorry All Over the Place, the group has garnered even more prominence, making them a must-see at this year’s SXSW. The band is influenced by a broad array of cultural references, often referencing the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace and David Lynch, and their songs are filled with references and revelations. With their focus on contrast and a fascination with juxtaposition, there’s no doubt that The Kickback will put on a raw and memorable performance.

Where to see them:

3/16: Speakeasy (12 a.m.)

9. Marlon Williams


New Zealand solo artist Marlon Williams brings a sound to the stage that combines folk, country, soul, bluegrass and the blues. Williams first made a name for himself as front-man of The Unfaithful Ways, but has started a successful journey with his solo career. Williams brings an upbeat and sincere vibe to the stage earning him a spot as an artist to watch at this year’s festival.

Where to see him:

3/16: 3TEN Austin City Limits Live (9 p.m.)

3/17: Barracuda (11:15 p.m.)

3/18: Central Presbyterian Church (11 p.m.)

10. Mothers


Originating from Athens, GA as the solo project of Kristine Leschper, Mothers quickly emerged into a full-fledged band, on tour alongside of Montreal, and supporting Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They made the leap to headlining sets in a matter of months and in February, released their debut album, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, with Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Deerhunter). Now, the indie-folk outfit is taking on SXSW. If the vulnerability and raw emotion displayed in their album are any indication of their performance, then Mothers are definitely an act to watch out for.

Where to see them:

3/16: Clive Bar (9 p.m.)

3/18: Mohawk Outdoor (10 p.m.)

11. Moving Panoramas

moving panoramas

Hailing from Austin, the all-girl trio that makes up Moving Panoramas will return to their hometown roots for SXSW. The name itself paints a perfect picture of the band’s sound—it’s indie guitar music at its’ finest, and the vocals have a dreamy, ethereal air about them. Each heartfelt lyric envelopes you into the songwriter’s story, making them one you will not want to miss at this year’s festival.

Where to see them:

3/15: The Sidewinder Inside (12 a.m.)

3/16: ScratcHouse Backyard (11 p.m.)

12. Roomsounds


Self-described as a “modern day Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers,” Roomsounds bring an eclectic mix of genres to the stage, making them an act to add to your list. Combine vivid song writing with versatile vocals and you have a group that gets as much out of playing a live show as they do creating a brilliant song. If you don’t know much about the band before seeing them live, you will leave eager to find out more.

Where to see them:

3/17: Lucky Lounge (9 p.m.)

13. Sunflower Bean


What do you get when you channel a passion for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Velvets? The sweet sound that is Sunflower Bean. The indie trio hailing from NYC is sure to take the SXSW stage by storm with their rock-influenced vocals and sweet riffs. Their debut album, Human Ceremony, is self-described as a “conflicting interest”—a mixture of dream pop and rock ‘n’ roll. The diversity this group brings to the stage makes them a must-see.

Where to see them:

3/17: Radio Day Stage (3 p.m.)

3/17: Stubb’s (9:25 p.m.)

3/18: Parish (1 a.m.)

3/19: Hype Hotel (8 p.m.)

14. Sweet Spirit

Sweet Spirit

The country/rock band hailing from Austin brings a different, but nonetheless charismatic and vibrant energy to the stage. Ironically, the nine-piece act started as the solo project of Sabrina Ellis, but new members were quickly added. The group began putting out songs at a breakneck speed, and the confident blend of genres that defines Sweet Spirit was born.

Where to see them:

3/19: Parish (10 p.m.)

15. Saint Pé

saint pe

After 10 years of recording and touring with Black Lips, Ian Saint Pé decided it was time for a change. His solo act—Saint Pé—was born. If you love Black Lips, then hopping on board with Saint Pé will be an easy feat. It has the same garage flavor and rock ‘n’ roll sound but with a sunnier, more pop-influenced side. Saint Pé brings a sound to the stage that is refreshingly upbeat and will leave you wanting more.

Where to see him:

3/18: Valhalla (1 a.m.)

16. Spookyland


The 4-piece act from Sydney received both local and international praise from the likes of NME, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork with their debut EP, ‘Rock and Roll Weakling.’ In 2015, an appearance at Lollapolooza landed them a spot in Consequence of Sound’s Top Ten acts not to miss. The band has a knack for delivering raw, emotional music that sticks with you long after they leave the stage. With their debut album, Beauty Already Beautiful, set to release in May 2016, Spookyland is well on their way to garnering even more prominence and prestige, making them a must-see at this year’s SXSW.

Where to see them:

3/16: Buffalo Billiards (9 p.m.)

3/17: Latitude 30 (12 a.m.)

17. T. Hardy Morris


For 10 years, T. Hardy Morris has explored the parallels between grunge and Southern rock with his band Dead Confederate. His first solo effort was 2013’s Audition Tapes, a relatively melancholy, confessional work likes so many of the records out of Nashville. His latest release, Drownin on a Mountaintop, is the complete opposite. Unsentimental, enthusiastic and rowdy, the album gives Morris’s voice ample space to roam and cut loose. Although Morris is not new to the music scene, his work as a solo act is well worth talking about.

Where to see him:

3/19: Parish (12 a.m.)

18. Tedo Stone


Garage/psych-rocker Tedo Stone forged a love for music at an early age, forming his first band at the age of 12. While living in the musically rich town of Athens, GA, Stone dove further into the music scene and his sound took on a noisier, carefree character that caught the attention of producer Drew Vandenberg (Deerhunter, of Montreal). After pairing up with him, Stone released a follow-up to his 2013 debut. 2015’s Marshes is decidedly grittier in comparison to his debut, Good Go Bad, and is definitely one to watch out for as it garners a larger fan base.

Where to see him:

3/17: Yard Dog (1 p.m.)


A junior studying journalism and music business at the University of Georgia, Camren spends her time procrastinating under the discover tab on Spotify and taking pictures of her dog. After spending the summer abroad, she has a remarkable appreciation for good gelato, cheap wine and British accents. With favorites like Simon and Garfunkel, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay and Moon Taxi, she is open to a variety of musical genres and is a connoisseur of any and all music festivals. In her spare time you can find her binge watching her latest obsession on Netflix or dreaming of ways to meet and marry John Krasinski.

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