The South by Southwest music festival has long been considered a proving ground for fledgling musicians; bands that generate a lot of buzz at the annual Austin festival often go on to accomplish great things (Vampire Weekend, anyone?) But with so many artists performing at venues throughout the city, it's difficult to know where to begin. Here are our picks for 10 top rising artists to catch at SXSW next week.
Erika M. Anderson, otherwise known as EMA, brings just the right amount of dangerousness and confident swagger to her electro-garage-rock tunes. Channeling Kim Gordon and St. Vincent, EMA has serious sex appeal and the brains to back it up.
New York chillwave duo MS MR have been generating "next big thing" buzz with their danceable tunes that combine powerful female vocals akin to Florence and the Machine with the electronic-rock intimacy of Bat for Lashes. They've already booked slots at Coachella and Bonnaroo later this year, so don't miss the opportunity to catch them in a more intimate setting at SXSW.
Don't let his lumberjack appearance fool you. Australian artist Chet Faker, born Nick Murphy, has taken cues from American R&B singers and melds smooth, neo-soul stylings with electronic elements to create sultry tunes that are the perfect backdrop for baby making.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper counts Justin Bieber and Childish Gambino among his friends and close collaborators, and has toured with Eminem, but that's not why you should pay attention. The 20-year-old Chicago native's debut album, "Acid Rap," digs deep and illustrates his mad skills for wordplay and flow, as well as a more serious, political bent.
Singer-guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards have spent the past year touring the world with everyone from Arctic Monkeys to Queens of the Stone Age on the back of their groundbreaking debut album, "Sistrionix," leaving carnage and plenty of loyal new fans in their wake. Funny to think that these blues-rockin' vixens met at a crocheting class in Silver Lake.
Don't know NO yet? Well, you should. The L.A.-based indie rockers deliver electrifying tunes in the same darkly melodic vein as the National and Interpol, but with their own unique twist that showcases layered guitars and irresistible crescendos. Frontman Bradley Hanan Carter's onstage charisma is palpable, and it's easy to imagine the band filling arenas before long.
English five-piece Eagulls have brashness and attitude to spare. Their self-titled debut album is fresh off the presses and is already making waves on both sides of the Atlantic. They'll be doing the rounds at SXSW, and will surely win over new fans with their scathing guitar rock that's simultaneously angry and life-affirming.
While Eagulls are all about aggression, London four-piece CYMBALS just want you to put on your dancing shoes. Combining bright synths, hand claps, and catchy melodies, the band will undoubtedly make their SXSW debut a joyously raucous affair, and "The Natural World" could easily be the party anthem of the spring.
Avid Dancer is the stage name of Jacob Summers, a snare-drumming prodigy and former U.S. Marine drum corps champ, although you wouldn't know it by listening to his music. Avid Dancer's gorgeously crafted tunes take things in an unexpected direction – more mellow psychedelia along the lines of Tame Impala than percussion-heavy romps – and they beg to be kept on heavy rotation.
Although this 21-year-old Brit is currently working on her third full-length album, she's still relatively new to US audiences, who are more familiar with the Icona Pop hit "I Love It," which she co-wrote than her own tunes. This won't be the case for long, as she continues to wow audiences with her delicious dance-pop and live performances that pack the punch of a tornado.