by Nick Hanover
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 plays the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Ladybird Lake on March 15th at 6pm
Most Likely to Lead an Australian Invasion
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
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
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
The Teeta plays Barracuda on March 16th at 1am
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
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead play Bungalow on March 13th at 12am
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