Festival season officially kicks off with the music portion of South by Southwest as bands from all over the world flood into Austin to play day parties, official showcases, and shake hands with music industry types. SXSW is a marathon of music, overwhelming in every sense, with so much happening simultaneously it can be hard to keep up, or not feel like you’re missing out on something else. Chances are you probably are, but when you catch those moments it makes it all the more special. Who will be the break out bands this year? It’s hard to tell, but here are six acts we think you should keep an eye on, give a listen to, or go see live given the chance.

6 Bands to see at SXSW 2018:

Photo by Caitlin McCann

Vundabar: Coming out of the Boston music scene, Vundabar’s self-described “sludgy, jangly pop” sound is fresh and one to take note of. Vundabar’s third album Smell Smoke grew from frontman Brandon Hagen’s experiences over a span of a four-years dealing with an ailing loved one. Being a band that tours nonstop the energy heard in their albums translate to their high energy show.

3/14, 1:00am@ Swan Dive

3/15, 11:10pm @ The Swidewinder Outside

3/16, 12:30am @ Cheer Up Charlie’s

Photo by Jack Mckain

Duckwrth: South Central L.A. MC Duckwrth isn’t confined to the boundaries of rap infusing his music with funk, electronic, and groove .  “MICHUUL,” off his November release an XTRA UGGLY Mixtape, repetitious lyrics give a feeling of bounce to the entire track. The way Duckwrth operates within the music and art world make his live performances both an auditory and visual experience.

3/13, 10:45pm @ Lustre Pearl

3/16, 12:30am @ Empire Control Room

Photo by Kertin Vasser

Holy Motors: Dusky, twangy, moody are the first words that come to mind when describing Estonian quintet Holy Motors. Their music is atmospheric and vulnerable, as heard in their recently released album Slow Sundown. To be able to catch them performing in a scared space like St. David’s Historic Sanctuary promises a haunting performance.

3/13, 8:00pm @ St. David’s Historic Sanctuary

3/16, 3:30pm @ Flatstock Stage Austin Convention Center


Photo by Mathieu Rompré

Men I Trust: A Montreal electro pop trio, Men I Trust, just released a new single “Show Me How” last week. “Show Me How,”a lush soft dance track, demonstrates Men I Trust’s ability to make chill-wave dance songs while still leaning on classical pop elements creating a smooth and dynamic sound.

3/14, 10:50pm @ The Sidewinder Inside

3/16, 11:15pm @ Seven Grand

Photo by Shervin Lainez

Soccer Mommy: Sophie Allison’s project Soccer Mommy started in her Nashville bedroom after purchasing a Tascam four-track as a way to record her feelings, a kind of audio diary. Clean,  Soccer Mommy’s studio debut, came out March 2nd. On the track”Cool” the fuzzy, distorted guitar partnered with her clear, but spongy vocals suck up and expel the trope of  “the cool girl”.

3/16, 9:30pm @ Cheer Up Charlie’s

Photo by Leslie Leonard

Snail Mail: A lot has happened to Snail Mail since we caught their performance at Secret Stages last August. They have moved from Baltimore to Brooklyn and have also signed to Matador Records. Snail Mail’s EP Habit has a feeling of a suburban malaise. This feeling is mimicked in their live performance with front-woman Lindsey Jordan’s eyes that convey a disinterested hope.

3/14, 12:30am @ Barracuda

3/15, 9:00pm @ Clive Bar

South Carolina at SXSW 2018:

Photo by David Stringer

Grace Joyner: Charleston’s own Grace Joyner is headed to SXSW as an official showcase artist. Their album Maybe Sometimes in C grooves and melts from track to track with heartfelt songwriting and strong hooks. Check them out performing “Dreams” off that album in our Papa Jazz session with them.

3/13, 10:00 PM @ Central Presbyterian Church,

Photo by David Stringer

Brother Oliver: Making their way from the South Carolina Upstate to Texas, Greenville band Brother Oliver will be playing the Rooftop Raucous day party during SXSW. Brother Oliver pushes the boundaries of Americana music mixing in experimental elements primarily through their mandolin.  Their debut single “What Will Be Will Be” came out last fall. Check them out performing that single in our Papa Jazz session with them.

3/13, 3:00 PM @ Cheers Shot Bar, RSVP

Photo by David Stringer

Stop Light Observations: Charleston based band Stop Light Observations whil also be making their way to Austin as an official SXSW showcase artist next week. Last December they released their ongoing series of digital 45’s called Vol. II. “VANDERLIGHT,” a track off Vol. II, allowed SLO to step back from their easy-going energy filled music to write music that’s lyrics have great meaning.

3/14, 1:00 AM @Esther’s Follies

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