The Ovrld Guide to the Best Austin Music at SXSW 2019

by Nick Hanover

Ovrld SXSW 2019

Every year, SXSW rolls around and movers and shakers in music, film, tech and brands take over Austin like an especially intoxicated and needy flock of migratory birds. And every year, local acts in particular seem to get the short end of the stick, cast aside by venues and press looking to catch on to the next big buzz act from anywhere but here. As always, though, our mission is Austin Music First so we’re here to point you towards the official local acts you’d be a fool to neglect while you’re fighting the scooter riding hordes in your search for hype, swag and libations.

Most Likely to Break Out

Abhi the Nomad

Abhi the Nomad

We spent a big chunk of last year demanding you pay attention to Abhi the Nomad, the hyper talented and ambitious pop auteur almost singlehandedly revitalizing Tommy Boy Records, and it seemed like by the end of 2018, more and more fans and critics were catching on to Abhi. Marbled, Abhi’s near flawless breakout LP, picked up album of the year honors from us as well as Kevin Curtin at the Austin Chronicle, and he received flattering profiles in outlets like Texas Monthly and the Statesman. Still, national media have been slow to catch on, particularly Pitchfork, who inexplicably left Abhi off their scene profile on Austin hip hop. We’re confident that will change soon, though, as Abhi has already kicked the year off with “Flush,” a brilliant single that bridges trap minimalism, pop maximalism and, uh, Mitski references and an upcoming acoustic reinterpretation of Marbled shows his versatility. Abhi had a good showing at SXSW in 2018, but if any local act will springboard into the national consciousness at SXSW this year, it’s him.

Abhi the Nomad plays the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Ladybird Lake on March 15th at 6pm


Most Likely to Lead an Australian Invasion

Go Fever

Go Fever

As our own Kayleigh Hughes observed on Twitter, Australia seems poised to dominate SXSW this year. Our theory for why Australia suddenly has so many great acts invading SXSW bills? Go Fever. The pub rock revivalists are led by Acey Monaro, who gets our vote for greatest Australian export since Heath Ledger thanks to her Elvis Costello-esque cheeky songwriting, goofy yet sharp stage presence and eternal devotion to classic rock god Meat Loaf, and now it seems clear Acey’s diabolical plan has always been to lead an Australian music invasion of America. And, honestly, we’re eager to surrender to her indie rock charms. After all, we’ve been in love with Monaro’s songwriting going back to her solo days. But as the leader of Go Fever, Monaro has truly blossomed into a singer worthy of the titans she idolizes and the band’s excellent new EP Daydream Hawker, with its readymade classic single “Feel So Much,” is an ideal work to introduce others to the Go Fever fold.

Go Fever play Mohawk Indoors on March 12th at 12:15 am

Most Overdue for SXSW Respect

Magna Carda

Magna Carda

It is absolutely absurd that Magna Carda remained overlooked by SXSW until last year. It’s so absurd, in fact, that we once made an entire mini-documentary about it. But now the group we once dubbed Austin’s answer to The Roots are back for a second year, in support of their brand new EP Ladee. Over the past couple years, the group’s recorded output has showcased Megz Kelli’s phenomenal growth as an emcee, with songs examining complex subjects ranging from identity struggles to Austin’s profound gentrification issues backed by breezy and infectious production from Chris Beale. We maintain that Kelli is one of the most underappreciated voices in hip hop, period, and we feel this is the year where Kelli and Magna Carda get spoken about alongside similarly bold breakout acts like Little Simz and Noname.

Magna Carda play Clive Bar on March 12th at 10:15pm

Most Likely to Get Added to the Stranger Things Soundtrack



Fanclub aren’t actually from Stranger Things ’80s time period, but if you told me their EP All the Same was actually a lost, unreleased artifact from Hawkins, Indiana’s lone New Wave band, I’d believe you. “Leaves” in particular sounds like it was written from the perspective of one of the members of the beloved supernatural mystery solving bicycle gang, with its “there’s something wrong with this town” lyric and the wandering romantic mood of the instrumentation, complete with a hard pedaling rhythm. I don’t know if any Strangers Things music supervisors will be out here sipping warmed over free Tito’s cocktails with the rest of us but if they are, I hope they do the obvious thing and buy up the whole Fanclub catalog.

Fanclub play BD Riley’s on March 14th at 10 pm

Most Likely to Soundtrack Makeouts with Strangers



You don’t know it yet but you’ve got a mixtape crush on Dossey. NPR tastemaker Stephen Thompson called Dossey’s single “Heartbeats” “expertly engineered, pleasurably Auto-Tuned synth-pop candy of the highest order” and prompted him to shoutout fellow synth-pop candy practicioner Kady Rain and ask “what’s with Austin and nationally little-heard practitioners of irresistible pop?” We couldn’t agree more with Thompson on both fronts and we’ve got a feeling that more than a few makeout sessions between strangers are going to break out during performances of “Heartbeats.” So if you want to get a head start on things, we suggest you add it to that playlist you’ve secretly been crafting for that crush you make eyes with in the cafe every morning.

Dossey plays Valhalla on March 11th at 9pm

Most Likely to Cause a Spike in Leotard Sales

Heart Bones

Heart Bones

Could there be a more fun pairing than Sabrina Ellis and Har Mar Superstar? The twosome have no shortage of projects to their name but their new collaboration Heart Bones sounds like it was made in day-glo spandex heaven, their soulful voices backed by bubbly production that may as well have come straight from some bonkers invention in the factory from Toys. We’re confident the good feels Heart Bones bring to the party will cause even the most stoic arm crossed SXSW goer to rip off their clothes and reveal the leotard ensemble they’ve been hiding underneath– or at least inspire them to go out and buy such an ensemble. Hopeful leotard entrepreneurs at SXSW, now is your time to shine!

Heart Bones play Esther’s Follies on March 13th at 12:30am

Best Dressed


The Teeta

It was no surprise that Pitchfork would single out The Teeta as one of the acts to keep an eye on in Austin hip hop. Outside of being a versatile rapper who has a better ear for hooks than almost anybody else in the scene, Teeta is also a budding style icon who immediately stands out anywhere he goes with his colorful ensembles and outsized presence. The production and hooks on Teeta’s upcoming album Teeta World are undoubtedly going to garner him a lot of praise and attention, but his style is going to dazzle people before they’ve heard a single bar, making him one of the few Austin rap acts with true star power.

The Teeta plays Barracuda on March 16th at 1am

Most Empowering

Molly Burch

Molly Burch

Did any line sum up toxic masculinity in 2018 better than “I don’t need to scream to get my point across/I don’t need to yell to know that I’m the boss” from Molly Burch’s “To the Boys”? The standout track from Burch’s remarkable First Flower felt like a 21st century response to Scott Walker’s regrettable ’60s misogyny anthem “The Girls and the Dogs” and in 2019, with the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s signature brand of calm but brutal wit, it has only grown in power. Burch received no shortage of accolades for her work in 2018 but we hope this year’s SXSW performances will propel her into the indie stratosphere and firmly shove the problematic boys of indie rock out of the spotlight.

Molly Burch plays the Official SXSW International Women’s Day Celebration at Palm Door on March 8th at 3:45pm

Most Likely to Kick Off the Revolution



If any band can turn a corporate brand saturated event like SXSW into a secret pop overthrow, it’s electro-punk firestarters BLXPLTN. As one of the most vital and incendiary bands in the city for the past few years, BLXPLTN have turned heads at any number of showcases, particularly with their riot ready classic “Start Fires,” featuring the all-time great singalong line “if you wanna burn it down with me, you just let me know.” In their more recent three piece form with live drums, BLXPLTN have only gotten louder and more ferocious, as “Education Destruction” so capably shows. Tyler the Creator may have gained SXSW infamy by trying to start a riot for shits and giggles but BLXPLTN are the type of band that could incite a crowd to march on the capital and actually pull it off.

BLXPLTN play the 720 Club on March 16th at 11pm

Best Kept Secret



This is likely the one and only year that we can call fuvk a secret at SXSW. Despite having a complete lack of social media presence until this year, the absurdly talented singer-songwriter has been receiving more and more attention and acclaim, including Bandcamp coverage of her recent Z-Tapes releases. That’s no surprise given the songwriting prowess and haunting voice of the local singer, and with an increasingly more confident and mature band in tow, we feel fuvk is on her way to a Mitski or Lucy Dacus breakout at SXSW. Get on board early, you won’t regret it.

fuvk plays CU29 on March 16th at 9pm

Most Historic Performance

Trail of Dead

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Before receiving one of the last ever perfect 10.0 scores from Pitchfork for the seminal Source Tags and Codes…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead helped put Austin’s doom laden indie scene on the map with Madonna. For the album’s 20th anniversary and vinyl reissue from Super Secret Records, Trail of Dead are performing the album in its entirety, making it perhaps the most definitive Austin moment at this year’s SXSW. Source Tags and Codes, with its Interscope backing, is what turned Trail of Dead into one of the biggest festival acts of their day but Madonna is arguably their greatest achievement and has long been overdue for a revival, as it firmly built on the colossal Sonic Youth influence that was oversaturing indie rock at the end of the ’90s and created something new and intriguing. Perhaps because it would ultimately have more influence on the post-rock and stoner rock scenes than the Velvet Underground and Gang of Four fetishizing indie scenes that took over the early ’00s, Madonna still sounds fresh and exciting, and an opportunity to see it performed live in its entirety should not be missed.

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead play Bungalow on March 13th at 12am

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Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover