99 Luftballons (International Acts at SXSW Music)

South by Southwest by way of Sudan, Scotland, Colombia, and more


Japandroids (by David Brendan Hall)

1982 “diecinueve ochenta y dos”

Wed. 14, Speakeasy Kabaret, 9:10pm; Fri. 16, Townsend, 10pm Ecuadorian synth-pop duo 1982 sounds straight out of a tropical John Hughes movie. Debut LP Nuevas Ondas roots in guitar, while last year's Homesick follows a sample-soaked route framed by glittery synths and Sebastián Narváez's muffled vox. – Isabella Castro-Cota

Ace Tee

Mon. 12, Barracuda, 10pm; Wed. 14, Waller Ballroom, 10pm; Thu. 15, Friends, 10pm Her "Bist Du Down?" video going viral last year, 24-year-old Hamburg dweller Tarin Wilda Schröder became an instant worldwide sensation. The German-Ghanaian singer bows at the Gen X R&B altar, specifically the holy trinity of TLC, Salt-N-Pepa, and Aaliyah, with bilingual delivery and her own H&M clothing line. – Kevin Curtin

Acid House Ragas

Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 9pm Combine a drum machine, synthesizer, and sitar, and the result is a drone-y electronic solo project from Montreal's Rishi Dhir. Expect serious zone-out meditation and Persian rug vibes, a luxury within the context of SX's more sonically demanding electronic acts. – Dan Gentile

Adahzeh

Tue. 13, Flamingo Cantina, 11pm Named for the African word meaning "the King's daughters," this female Kingston quartet plies a retro-futurist synthesis of the deepest, dreadest Seventies roots reggae and dancehall into infectious Jamaican pop. YouTube enthusiasts: 2016 single "Island Girl" (not Elton John's 1976 hit), an erotically catchy collision of lover's rock and dub. – Tim Stegall

Ali AKA Mind

Fri. 16, Half Step, 9:30pm; Sat. 17, the Main II, 10:15pm Colombia rapper/producer Ali Rey Montoya came up on a steady diet of Nineties East Coast hip-hop, the Bogotá MC spitting reality raps with a steely flow over looping boom bap beats. His discography reveals his philosophy framework: Rap Conciencia ("Conscious Rap"), Palabras del Alma ("Words From the Soul"), and Mestizo. – Thomas Fawcett

Alsarah & the Nubatones

Thu. 15, Flamingo Cantina, 9:30pm; Fri. 16, Palm Door on Sixth, 12mid Based in Brooklyn, Sudanese singer Sarah Mohamed Abunama-Elgadi and her quartet specialize in a hypnotic blend of traditional Nubian "Songs of Return" and Sudanese pop from the Seventies. Oud, electric bass, and smooth harmonies of the frontwoman and co-singer Nahid ground the band's 2016 sophomore LP Manara. – Michael Toland

Avelino

Fri. 16, the Main II, 11:55pm When it comes to grime, Skepta and Stormzy tower the scene, but London MC Achi Avelino is fast ascending. Last year's No Bullshit LP obeys the same illicit attitude that follows through to his most recent single, "Energy," guesting aforementioned greats Skepta and Stormzy. – Isabella Castro-Cota

AveParadiso

Fri. 16, CU29, 11pm Club music for the masses of Guadalajara, Nacho Luquin and drummer Rodrigo di Vece drench heartbreak in the glitz and cheese of Eighties synths. Employing the former's gritty, strained vocals – reminiscent of a softer Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring, Aveparadiso rocks a light Phil Collins influence and danceable basslines. Libby Webster

Bad Gyal

Tue. 13, the Main, 6:15pm; Wed. 14, Bungalow, 11pm A viral sensation post "Pai," a revamp of Rihanna's "Work," Alba Farelo has burgeoned into Spain's rap queen. Braggadocio ("Nicest Cocky"), poison darts ("Indapanden"), and trap beats ("Fiebre") all lead up to recent mixtape Worldwide Angel, the Barcelona rapper fashioning dancehall and reggaeton through a club-pop lens. – Alejandra Ramirez

Bad Pony

Sat. 17, Blackheart, 12mid If Australia had a native tongue other than English, "Bad Pony" would translate into "Coldplay." These Sydney natives plow a similarly manicured field of alt/grunge/pop, as evidenced by singles "Sideways" and "Zombie," which also indicate a Steely Dan CD or two among the Nickelback and Smashing Pumpkins discs. – Tim Stegall

Bifannah

Thu. 15, Flatstock Stage, Austin Convention Center, 12:30pm; Thu. 15, Lamberts, 9pm Bifannah conjures the warmth of a Spanish summer filtered through a blurry UK lens. The Barcelona/London/Madrid foursome's 2017 debut, Maresia, thrums Sixties garage fuzziness into its Tropicália, hints of noir courtesy of Antía Figueiras' vox and Guille V. Zapata's slow-burning guitar. – Libby Webster

Jade Bird

Tue. 13, Elysium, 10pm; Wed. 14, Latitude 30, 9pm; Thu. 15, Mohawk Outdoor, 8pm Though only 20, Jade Elizabeth Bird brought stellar cred to last year's debut EP Something American. The London songwriter recorded stateside with Simone Felice as producer, recruited Larry Campbell to join in-studio, and toured with Brent Cobb. The singer's raw vocals ring like a bloodied First Aid Kit. – Doug Freeman

Blue Lab Beats

Wed. 14, the Main II, 1am London producer Namali Kwaten, 18, and multi-instrumentalist David Mrakpor, 23, fuse the legacies of J Dilla, traditional jazz, and British and American neo-soul into a lively brand of contemporary fusion. Their smooth, spacey debut EP Blue Skies and its entirely fantastic, sociopolitically tinged follow-up Freedom garnered praise from all corners of the globe. – Kahron Spearman

Boombox Cartel

Fri. 16, the Main, 12mid Mexican producer/DJ duo Americo Garcia and Jorge Medina are on the rise, providing a genre-destroying, low-end-centric sound. Signed to Diplo's Mad Decent, the pair rep debut extended-play Cartel, an atmospheric set of festival- and club-ready bangers with dubstep and drum 'n' bass. – Kahron Spearman

Breakfast Muff

Mon. 12, Latitude 30, 8pm; Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas Annex, 9:35pm "You're a feminist until I won't fuck you," scowls Eilidh McMillan in a thick Scottish accent. The Glasgow trio's been churning out fearless, no frills, sociopolitical punk since 2014. Last year's Eurgh! was viciously exasperated and aggressive toward baby boomers and pseudo progressives. – Libby Webster

Allman Brown

Tue. 13, Seven Grand, 8:35pm; Sat. 17, Barracuda, 8pm Allman Brown epitomizes the new music road map. 2013 single "Sons and Daughters" hit swooning tones à la Vance Joy, but rather than rush to record, the London songwriter cashed in on TV and film syncs. His debut LP 1000 Years only emerged last year, followed by trending 2018 singles that spotlight Brown's delicate tenor and sensitive ballads. – Doug Freeman

Bugzy Malone

Tue. 13, Latitude 30, 12mid; Fri. 16, the Main II, 12:35am "Evil genius" of Manchester grime, 27-year-old Aaron Davis is a tracksuit-loving boxer and ex-con who's deeply in touch with his emotions. From 2015 debut EP Walk With Me to last summer's increasingly nuanced King of the North, Davis effectively channels stress, insecurity, and his violent past. – Kevin Curtin

Calmly

Thu. 15, 720 Club, 11pm Fka Childsaint, Perth fourpiece Calmly fashions gloomy skuzz from a wall of sound that's been atmospherically stripped down to the same sort of glamorous ennui painted by the Dum Dum Girls. Across a handful of EPs and singles, the group unfurls a detached, eerily apathetic sound hovering above noir-rock. – Libby Webster

Catholic Action

Mon. 12, Latitude 30, 10pm; Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas Annex, 10:25pm Last year's debut LP, In Memory Of, shows these Glaswegians perfectly capable of saving UK indie rock. "L.U.V." and "Say Nothing" demonstrate simultaneous penchants for thick-n-hairy fuzz bass, man-sized glam hooks, and tangy, raspy, sub-Cheap Trick guitar science. – Tim Stegall

Chai

Thu. 15, Maggie Mae's, 12mid; Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas Annex, 8:15pm Rehashing cutesy kawaii culture with explosive, riot grrrl-inspired sensibility, hyper quartet Chai leaped from Nagoya, Japan, to American ears on a 2017 Burger Records compilation tape. Identical twins Mana and Kana lead the noise rock onslaught, channeling a punky Basement Jaxx on recent rapid-fire Pink. – Rachel Rascoe

Lorine Chia

Sat. 17, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 11pm Los Angeles singer Lorine Chia was born in Cameroon and raised in Baltimore. Her intoxicating smoky voice – Nina Simone meets Macy Gray – has blessed tracks by Jamila Woods, the Game, and Wiz Khalifa, but forthcoming sophomore LP Introduction to Sweet Noise could be her breakout moment. – Thomas Fawcett

Cirkus Funk

Thu. 15, Speakeasy, 9pm; Fri. 16, Russian House, 1am Steeped in Parliament-Funkadelic, this Cali, Colombia, ensemble infuses rump-shaking funk workouts with Latin percussion and woozy urban psychedelia. Their video for "Tu Funk" from 2015's Space Conga pits joyful choreography against a Brutalist government building. – Greg Beets

Club de Surf

Tue. 13, Friends, 1am; Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 11:20pm Meet Santiago, Chile's punk-fucked version of Jesus & Mary Chain, as capable of unleashing 1-2-3-4 pogo ravers like "Deportes Nocturnos" and "Kill the President" as vicious dance-floor noise like "X-Ray Nation" and "Wet King" from 2017's Anhedonia full-length. – Tim Stegall

Andrea Cruz

Fri. 16, Speakeasy, 9pm Feather-light timbre switching between forlorn melodies and bouncy harmonies, Andrea Cruz references classical, flamenco, and bossa nova. On 2017 debut Tejido de Laurel, the Puerto Rican songwriter ricochets from wistful folk shuffles in "La Promesa" and lovesick musings on "Contigo" to the rolling pop-rock jangle of "Escríbeme." – Alejandra Ramirez

The Dead South

Fri. 16, Continental Club, 12mid; Sat. 17, Lucille, 12mid True to their name, the Dead South revels in the retro, but imbues its acoustic strum and stomp with high-octane flair. The Saskatchewan quartet tours through roots strings styles on sophomore LP Illusion & Doubt (2016), unloading everything from bluegrass to gypsy fiddle with a devilish mischievousness in Nate Hilts' growling, punkish vocals spitting ballads of drinking, death, and other dependable debaucheries. – Doug Freeman

Denis The Night & The Panic Party

Thu. 15, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room, 12mid; Fri. 16, 720 Club, 8pm This multi-sensory collective embraces a heady mix of psychedelia, electronic, disco, and shoegaze. The trio covers almost as much ground as the distance between their home bases of London and the Adriatic beach resort town of Fano, Italy. Cosmic Youth, the band's 2016 debut, cracked the Italian Top 20. – Greg Beets

Descartes A Kant

Wed. 14, Karma Lounge, 9pm; Thu. 15, Elysium, 11pm Erudite and profane, Descartes a Kant leaves the staid legacy of its namesakes writhing in a mixture of blood, chocolate, and glitter. Drawing on John Zorn's Grand Guignol era in both sound and sight, the Guadalajara-bred avant-punk troupe reflects on the human condition throughout their Steve Albini-produced third LP Victims of Love Propaganda in screeching, grotesque strokes. – Greg Beets

Divide & Dissolve

Fri. 16, Hideout, 10pm Soaked in low-end doom, drone, and avant-garde classical tones, Melbourne multi-instrumentalists T//R and S//N use high-volume noise to fight white supremacy worldwide. A tall order, but based on the band's brand-new sophomore LP Abomination, one with possibility. – Michael Toland

Dizzy

Wed. 14, Blackheart, 8pm This small-town Canadian quartet from brothers Alex, Mackenzie, and Charlie Spencer, plus vocalist Katie Munshaw, have only released two songs, but they sound like Lorde fronting an indie pop band. November's "Swim" flows guitar glitter and emotive synths into electronically padded drums behind Munshaw's alluring pronunciation. – Kevin Curtin

Doble Porcion

Thu. 15, Speakeasy Kabaret, 11:30pm; Fri. 16, Half Step, 8:45pm Meaning "double portion," this Medellín, Colombia, duo waxes on their hometown in graffiti and weed. Mañas Rufino's smooth, oddball rhymes complement Métricas Frías' coarse bravado on seesaw bars reminiscent of Nineties rap with heaps of street flavor. – Alejandra Ramirez

The Dunwells

Tue. 13, Continental Club, 9pm Retaining a distinctively British tinge to their swelling pop, this Leeds quartet hit initially in the U.S. after signing with Austin imprint Playing in Traffic and recording their 2012 debut at Willie Nelson's Pedernales studio. Behind Joe and Dave Dunwell, last year's Colour My Mind EP bent acoustic against their emotive surge. – Doug Freeman

Ezra Collective

Wed. 14, the Main II, 12mid London's cool-kid jazz outfit remains firmly planted in tradition while allowing hints of hip-hop and Afrobeat to thrive. On standout EP Juan Pablo: The Philosopher, the young quintet stretches a cutting amalgam of spiritual jazz led by ancestral African rhythms. An electrifying version of Sun Ra's Space Is the Place highlights. – Kahron Spearman

FAVX

Thu. 15, BD Riley's, 7pm; Fri. 16, Barracuda, 8:45pm Sounding like one of the original grunge bands born again in the post-hardcore milieu of Touch & Go Records, Madrid power trio Favx applies post-punk dissonance to reformed classic rock like it's 1992. Debut EP Welfare arrived in January. – Michael Toland

Gabylonia

Fri. 16, Half Step, 11pm Whether launching rapid-fire lyricism reminiscent of Busta Rhymes on her 2016 release Lavoe, offering smooth romanticism on "Siempre Soñe," or doling out truths on government corruption, Maria Gabriela Sojo owns Venezuelan rap. – Alejandra Ramirez

Gang of Youths

Thu. 15, Empire Control Room, 12mid Gang of Youths frontman David Le'aupepe drafts epic, angst-riddled rock, the kind that transcends into the dramas of adulthood like Craig Finn or Matt Berninger at their most aggressive. The Sydney-based quintet reached peak in Australia behind last year's scorching sophomore LP, Go Farther in Lightness, nabbing four ARIA Music Awards including Album of the Year and Best Group. – Doug Freeman

Goat Girl

Wed. 14, Seven Grand, 12mid; Thu. 15, Latitude 30, 12mid; Fri. 16, Cheer Up Charlies Inside, 10pm London foursome Goat Girl combs through the buoyancy of Sixties surf-rock with a hardened attitude on often overtly political punk rock. Expanding and contracting from song to song, their debut full-length is forthcoming on Rough Trade Records in April. – Libby Webster

Hatchie

Thu. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 8:20pm; Fri. 16, Lucille, 9pm The cerebral pop project of Brisbane native Harriette Pilbeam is Cocteau Twins-comparable. Dreamy haze shrouding deep, dusky interiors, "Try" took off immediately in Australia, earning the ethereal songwriter a spot on Brooklyn tastemakers Double Double Whammy and her first U.S. dates, all with just two tracks. – Rachel Rascoe

Hety & Zambo

Thu. 15, Speakeasy, 12mid; Sat. 17, Flamingo Cantina, 12mid Fabian Perez and Relis Arigan lead Caribbean dancehall crew Kings of Creole. Repping the island of San Andres, which politically is part of Colombia but remains geographically closer to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, the pair spit fiery rhymes over thumping up-tempo beats.– Thomas Fawcett

IMUR

Fri. 16, Sheraton Backyard, 8:40pm Influenced in part by Detroit rap legend J Dilla, this Vancouver trio weaves futuristic electronica, boom-bap hip-hop, jazz, and progressive pop into their exponentially self-aware debut extended play, 2017's Slow Dive, which touches upon "substance use, abuse and recovery, non-traditional relationships and sexual dynamics" with focus on intricate instrumentation. – Kahron Spearman

Japandroids

Wed. 14, Lustre Pearl, 11pm Unabashed in its pursuit of sing-along anthems – as if distilling the Who down to a duo – the Vancouver pairing of Brian King and David Prowse had a banner 2017 thanks to the heavily acclaimed Near to the Wild Heart of Life, Japandroids' third album and first after five years. Keep your lighter app on standby. – Michael Toland

Karol G

Thu. 15, Half Step, 12:20am One of the few women in urban Latin, Carolina Navarro delivers female sensibility to a genre generally lacking it. Marrying pop and reggaeton, the Colombian's silky vox bounce off tropical beats in perfect synchronicity on last year's debut Unstoppable, which recalls Ozuna's R&B and Reykon's allure. – Isabella Castro-Cota

La Cuneta Son Machín

Wed, 14, Flamingo Cantina, 12mid; Thu. 15, Flamingo Cantina, 10:30pm Funky Latin dance music and Nicaraguan pop meet rock and hip-hop in this Managua group's slick mezcla. Frisky and infectious, latest album Cañambuco erupts a block party. 2015 third album Mondongo was nominated for the Best Latin Rock/Urban/Alternative Grammy. – Michael Toland

LAPS

Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas Annex, 1:25am Members of Golden Teacher and the Green Door Studio collectives, Glasgow-based electronic twosome Cassie Ojay and Alicia Matthews extend bouncy industrial/dub/disco offerings, while recalling the strange and elusive non-vocals of Eighties German pop-art duo Saâda Bonaire. Latest EP Ladies as Pimps tracks classic forms with uncompromising attitude and a wavy appeal. – Kahron Spearman

Leyya

Wed. 14, Esther's Follies, 8pm Latest release from Vienna's Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer, sophomore LP Sauna offers an energetic and sample-heavy amalgam of moodiness and carefree pop. Turning sharply away from predictability, they pulse forward in an understated beat under Lindinger's sweet, breathy vocals. – Libby Webster

Liniker e os Caramelows

Thu. 15, Russian House, 12mid; Fri. 16, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 12:30am Attired in headdresses and jewelry, transgender singer Liniker Barros fronts this rich capture of the bossa-nova, samba, and tropical textures from their hometown São Paulo, while fusing strains of primal blues and funk. Barros channels Etta James and Nina Simone on 2016 debut Remonta. – Alejandra Ramirez

Los Chinchillos del Caribe

Wed. 14, Speakeasy, 11pm; Thu. 15, Half Step, 11:20pm; Fri. 16, Speakeasy, 1am Born amidst the unrest of student strikes at the University of Puerto Rico in 2009, cumbia punk quintet Los Chinchillos del Caribe embody the chaotic energy of protest. Produced by Mexican mixmaster Toy Selectah, 2017 LP El Pugilato whips hard-edged cumbia, reggae, punk, and hip-hop into a heavy pachanga. – Thomas Fawcett

Los Wilds

Wed. 14, Bungalow, 12mid; Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 9:40pm These biker film garageniks from Madrid played more SXSW slots last year than any band, dropping jaws from Hotel Vegas to the Sheraton with their unhinged raunch and snarled Spanish lyrics. The Black Lips' Jared Swilley dubbed Los Wilds "the Spanish Fat White Family." – Tim Stegall

Dan Lyons

Tue. 13, 720 Club, 12mid; Sat. 17, Velveeta Room, 9pm Behind the kit with former outfits Phobophobes, Misty Miller, and most notably off-kilter UK punks the Fat White Family, Dan Lyons moved into the spotlight last year fronting the Wet Nurse. As with his previous crews, Lyons revels in lo-fi sounds, but cuts psych-pop charm tinged with dusty Americana that hearkens Robyn Hitchcock. – Doug Freeman

Marrón

Fri. 16, Townsend, 12mid Born in Mexico and based in NYC, Jorge Marrón's ethereal voice floats dreamy synth-pop productions. The Acapulco native's debut LP etc. came out on Nacional Records, the indie standard-bearer for progressive Latin music. Single "Cometa" emits the same breezy vibe as classic Brazilian bossa nova. – Thomas Fawcett

Metz

Fri. 16, Barracuda Backyard, 1:10am Combustive art squall since 2008, Toronto trio Metz substantiate the long talent shadow fellow Canadian legends NoMeansNo cast across the punk landscape. September 2017-issued third LP Strange Peace benefits from no-nonsense producer Steve Albini. Singles "Cellophane" and "Mess of Wires" detonate like mind bombs at a Trump cabinet meeting. – Tim Stegall

Meute

Tue. 13, the Main, 12:20am; Wed. 14, Mohawk Outdoor, 12:15am; Thu. 15, Friends, 8pm In Germany techno is king, but one act proves the genre doesn't require drum machines or computers. Hamburg's Meute takes classic techno from the likes of Laurent Garnier and transforms it into marching band arrangements, complete with booming bass drums substituting for 808 kicks and syncopated xylophones mimicking synth lines – bringing out the warmth and melody hiding in even the darkest electronic tunes. – Dan Gentile

Pete Molinari

Tue. 13, Townsend, 9pm London's Pete Molinari couldn't sound any more like he grew up playing guitar in the deep South. Crooning in his soulful choirboy voice behind guitar work that oscillates between quivering blues riffs and cleaned-up Americana, Molinari offers a retro throwback sound straight out of the Sixties. – Libby Webster

Mokoomba

Wed, 14, Russian House, 12mid; Thu. 15, Flamingo Cantina, 11:30pm Based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Mokoomba draws on the Tonga and Luvale rhythms of its region, but adds healthy dollops of funk, ska, and soukous to an irresistible dance fusion of pan-African (and beyond) styles. Vets of Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festivals, the sextet released third album Luyando last year. – Michael Toland

Mozes & the Firstborn

Fri. 16, Tap Room at the Market, 10pm; Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas Annex, 9:45pm A Burger Records band whose talent transcends the oft-airheaded garage rock scene, this young Netherlands quartet fronted by Melle Dielesen broke out in 2013 with debut single "I Got Skills," an undeniable sing-along tempting comparisons to the Black Lips. Ensuing sophomore LP Great Pile of Nothing shifted toward Nineties alt-rock. – Kevin Curtin

Mary Ocher

Sat. 17, Esther's Follies, 8pm Atmospheric synth swatches give way to African rhythms and Brecht-style librettos through this Russia-via-Israel émigré. Her Berlin-based post-punk cabaret pivots on the anti-capitalist stance of 2017's The West Against the People (not to mention its accompanying essay), with Ocher's Kate Bush-like gift for vocal drama and dynamics liberating her songs from the trap of agitprop. – Greg Beets

Ought

Wed. 14, Barracuda Backyard, 11:10pm; Thu. 15, Barracuda, 12:05am These post-punks' rousing fragmentation shaped around Tim Darcy's sprawling poetry, channeling Talking Heads' specialty for anxiously comforting tracks. On Ought's Merge debut, the Montrealers streamline a previously feverish sound, the duskier, muted Room Inside the World aligning deep instrumentals with Darcy's social commentary. – Rachel Rascoe

Our Girl

Mon. 12, Latitude 30, 12mid; Sat. 17, Sidewinder Inside, 12mid British alt-rock trio Our Girl meshes stark noise with tender harmonies without it sounding forced. On 2016 EP Normally, Soph Nathan's deep, breathy voice adds dimension while bass and rhythmic guitar thumps, courtesy of Josh Tyler and Lauren Wilson, cushion her lyrics about the vapidity characterizing the emotional labor of today's society. – Isabella Castro-Cota

Jay Park

Fri. 16, Parish, 10:15pm; Sat. 17, the Main, 12:10am Singer, rapper, dancer, actor, label owner, Jay Park came up in the Pacific Northwest B-boy scene before enlisting overseas in the K-pop forces. In a busy last decade, he's blossomed into the Korean Chris Brown, a bilingual triple threat, who last year signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. – Kevin Curtin

Partner

Tue. 13, Valhalla, 12:20am; Fri. 16, Swan Dive Patio, 12mid "Just two gay Canadians" according to their Twitter bio, Ontario-dwelling best friends Josée Caron and Lucy Niles brandish an openly queer, pro-slacker, totally 420 lifestyle on first full-length In Search of Lost Time. Opener "Everybody Knows" ("you're high") splays the pair's faux-Nirvana style, but behind the deadpan rings and streamlined shredding lies seriously exciting indie rock. – Rachel Rascoe

Peach Pit

Wed. 14, Javelina, 12mid; Fri. 16, Sheraton Backyard, 9:30pm This self-proclaimed "chewed bubblegum pop" fourpiece delivers teen angst wrapped around singer Neil Smith's hushed vox. 2016 debut Sweet FA gathers laissez-faire influence from fellow Canadian Mac DeMarco on last year's LP, which picks up the pace while retaining feathery melodies. – Isabella Castro-Cota

Lido Pimienta

Mon. 12, Empire Garage, 9pm; Thu. 15, Mohawk Indoor, 8:30pm; Fri. 16, Townsend, 9pm; Fri. 16, Swan Dive, 12mid; Sat. 17, Speakeasy, 11:20pm Trailblazing Toronto-based, Colombian-born Lido Pimienta took home Canada's Polaris Prize last year, beating out Leonard Cohen and Feist. Winning album La Papessa is an openly political art-pop statement sung entirely in Spanish. Afro-Colombian synth-pop traverses a landscape of gender, race, and motherhood through unhindered musical innovation. – Rachel Rascoe

Pussy Riot

Tue. 13, the Main, 7:15pm; Wed. 14, Belmont, 12mid Late 2017 saw the first U.S. musical performance from feminist Russian activists Pussy Riot, and now the balaclava-donning protest collective brings their confrontational, explicitly political music to SXSW. Pure pop ("Police State") to slithering electronica ("Organs"), Pussy Riot beckons resistance. – Libby Webster

Jordan Rakei

Tue. 13, Elysium, 9pm Contributing vocals to Disclosure's Caracal (2015), Jordan Rakei's career took a quick ascent as his honey-smooth timbres caressed the polyrhythmic jazz sensibilities and warm live instrumentation of his 2016 debut Cloak and 2017 follow-up Wallflower. Hip-hop-leaning, the Australian coalesces frantic, thumping basslines, in-the-pocket percussion, and free-flow horns. – Alejandra Ramirez

Gemma Ray

Mon. 12, Barracuda Backyard, 10:30pm; Tue. 13, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, 7pm; Tue. 13, Cheer Up Charlies, 10:10pm Since 2008, UK native Gemma Ray (currently haunting Berlin) has offered blackhearted R&B drawn from a pre-Beatles palette, ringing like Amy Winehouse with a serious Nick Cave fixation. Film noir, Billie Holiday, teen romance comics – all figure heavily into Ray's torching soul, full of heavy reverb guitar and throaty emoting. – Tim Stegall

Rosemary & Garlic

Wed. 14, Waller Ballroom, 8pm; Fri. 16, Central Presbyterian Church, 7pm Plying airy folk from Utrecht, Anne van den Hoogen and Dolf Smolenaers whisper a sound reminiscent of ethereal, piano-heavy music reverberating inside of a church. Their atmospheric debut dropped in January, its dramatic brooding steered by the frontwoman's delicate vocals and cinematic instrumentation. – Libby Webster

RVG

Tue. 13, Barracuda, 9pm; Thu. 15, 720 Club, 1am Melbourne's Romy Vager Group looks back to the post-punk/jangle pop Eighties for inspiration, coming off like the British arm of 120 Minutes one second and acknowledged homegrown inspiration the Go-Betweens the next. Vager's commanding drawl and memorable songs dominate 2017 debut A Quality of Mercy. – Michael Toland

Sahad & the Nataal Patchwork

Fri. 16, Malverde, 11pm Like a hand-stitched quilt, Sahad & the Nataal Patchwork make up a beautiful tapestry from many distinct parts. As evident on 2017's Jiw, the Senegalese octet draws on traditions ranging from West African Afrobeat, Malian blues, and sophisticated jazz, pop, and rock in crafting lush, multilingual compositions. – Thomas Fawcett

Saint Sister

Wed. 14, Central Presbyterian Church, 7pm; Thu. 15, Velveeta Room, 11pm; Fri. 16, Victorian Room at the Driskill, 8pm Traditional Celtic folk harmonies and harps receive a mesmerizing modern flourish from Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty, following in the increasingly eclectic line of the Staves or fellow Irish balladeer James Vincent McMorrow. Slanted electro-pop melodies course around ethereal, intertwining vocals on upcoming first LP The Shape of Silence. – Doug Freeman

Sarahmée

Fri. 16, Malverde, 10pm Grinding beats back and forth in her thick French accent, Senegalese daughter and adopted Québécoise rapper Sarahmée Ouellet proved her mettle on 2015 debut Légitime, 16 tracks that traverse the anxiety driven "Paniqué" to the gruff flexing of "DTVR." The French rap niche's sovereign. – Alejandra Ramirez

Remna Schwarz

Fri. 16, Malverde, 9pm Born in Senegal, Remna Schwarz moved through Zaire, Mali, Portugal, France, and the U.S. before settling in Cabo Verdé. That informs a pan-African fusion revolving around his soulful voice and nimble acoustic guitar work. No new album in a decade, recent singles "Upon Da Surface" and "Kal Koldadi" promise new work forthcoming. – Michael Toland

Sea Moya

Thu. 15, BD Riley's, 9pm Hailing from Mannheim, Germany, this mind-expanding trio marries Krautrock's legacy to skittering Afro-pop guitar and herky-jerk funk beats. After garnering acclaim for 2016's Baltic States EP, Sea Moya relocated to Canada to work on their forthcoming full-length. – Greg Beets

Seis Pistos

Wed. 14, the Main, 10:30pm These Chihuahuans' subversion of the Sex Pistols' name says everything about their "Latin punk." Warping the form since 1996, their three LPs and two singles ripple with all the crashing guitar chords, anger, and propulsive energy of the Clash in 1978. – Tim Stegall

Seyi Shay

Thu. 15, Highland Lounge, 11:40pm; Fri. 16, Palm Door on Sixth, 1am Rising at warp speed, Nigerian-English fusionist Seyi Shay has become as controversial as she is talented. 2015 studio debut Seyi or Shay blends Afro-pop with echoes of Beyoncé, whom she counts as one of her mentors. During 2017, she released a full rundown of club and radio singles, including island riddim "Your Matter" and Afro-salsa amalgam "Bia." – Kahron Spearman

ShitKid

Wed. 14, BD Riley's, 1am; Fri. 16, Cheer Up Charlies Inside, 8:30pm Brandished as one of Sweden's freakiest sonic happenings, Åsa Söderqvist smashes guitar fuzz and drum machines into her own weird, sinister shade of rock. The Gothenburg artist hones her tinny, stream-of-consciousness lyricism on newest EP This Is It, crafty electro-punk matching the bite of breakout "Oh Please Be a Cocky Cool Kid." – Rachel Rascoe

Shopping

Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas Annex, 11:25pm; Thu. 15, Latitude 30, 10pm London/Glasgow-based trio Shopping took an electrically danceable post-punk position on 2015's jittery Why Choose. They push a brooding, groovy stance on latest The Official Body, produced by Orange Juice's Edwyn Collins. On opener "The Hype," guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk spiral out over media brainwashing. – Rachel Rascoe

Skinny Lister

Sat. 17, Barracuda Backyard, 11:30pm London natives, Skinny Lister have pounded out a folk-punk odyssey everywhere from hotel elevators to record label car parks since 2009. They've even performed while wing-walking! Taking the legacy of the Pogues and upping the vintage punk assault, they went fully electric for portions of 2017's The Devil, the Heart & the Fight. – Tim Stegall

Noah Slee

Wed. 14, Scoot Inn, 8pm; Thu. 15, Malverde, 10pm; Fri. 16, Bungalow, 11pm Berlin-based Tongan-New Zealand musician Noah Slee got his start early this millennium singing with West Auckland pop-funk band Spacifix. August 2017 saw the release of his proper debut album, sleek R&B stormer Otherland, an intensely personal statement that digs into his coming out, a post-breakup depression, and recharge into a force of nature. – Kahron Spearman

Soia

Sat. 17, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 8pm Viennese singer Soia Hagen serves up melodic soul dabbling in jazz and spoken word. 2016 sophomore LP H.I.O.P. ("Roaming Deer," "A Porcupine's Agenda," "Intangible Tiger") proved her to be one with nature. More recent work with producer Mez ("Fractal Spirit") finds the singer crooning over jazzy, loop-filled hip-hop beats. – Thomas Fawcett

Sonars

Thu. 15, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room, 8pm Retro-futurism looms large in the spaced-out sounds of this British-Italian electro-psych duo. "Desert Moon" from 2015's Jack Rust and the Dragonfly IV EP incorporates astronaut transmissions over a transcendent wash of guitars and synthesizers. – Greg Beets

Sputnik

Wed. 14, the Main, 9:40pm; Sat. 17, 720 Club, 12mid The first satellite, Sputnik's Soviet launch in 1957 triggered the Space Race. Brash, tuneful, and entirely en Español, these Mexico City punks have run their own race since 2003, absorbing influences ranging from Bad Religion ("Cien Inviernos") to the Pixies ("Puentes"). – Tim Stegall

The Strypes

Thu. 15, Velveeta Room, 10pm; Fri. 16, 720 Club Patio, 8:45pm After furtive evolution toward Aughts Britpop on 2015's Little Victories, these ferocious Irish pub rockers found a richer, more sustainable mix of abandon and maturity on last year's Spitting Image. Character studies like "Behind Closed Doors" examine life's terminal velocity from a perspective more cynically wizened than the quartet's youthful vintage would suggest. – Greg Beets

Sturle Dagsland

Thu. 15, Hideout, 12mid Playing "spot the influence" doesn't work with Sturle Dagsland. The Norwegian singer, usually accompanied by instrumentalist brother Sjur, draws from the industrial atmospheres of the city and the wordless cries of the animal kingdom than anything immediately recognizable as rock music. Avant-garde folktronica blossoms on his self-titled EP released in 2017. – Michael Toland

Superorganism

Wed. 14, Stubb's, 8:20pm; Sat. 17, Latitude 30, 8pm A committee of largely unknown pop wizards, Superorganism is an eight-person, co-habitating London collective that emerged last year on Domino Records. First drop "Something for Your M.I.N.D." introduced 17-year-old Orono Noguchi's power chimes, while "Everybody Wants to Be Famous" confirmed the group's brightly nostalgic production capacity. – Rachel Rascoe

Surma

Tue. 13, the Main, 10:20pm; Sat. 17, Hideout, 9pm Portuguese multi-instrumentalist and pedal-looper Débora Umbelino, 22, delivers nymphlike vocals atop cosmic ethereality. Her lyrically and sonically ambitious debut, the fantastical and fantastic Antwerpen, serves rising blends and choral ambience over 10 gorgeous songs, each track listed in a different language. – Kahron Spearman

Tagore

Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas Annex, 1:15am The lush, sun-kissed psychedelia of Tagore feels like napping in a velvet Snuggie. Hailing from Brazil's northern coastal city of Recife, frontman Tagore Suassuna's spaced-out soulful haze invokes Revolver-era Beatles, the samba-soul of Marcos Valle, and a pinch of Os Mutantes. – Thomas Fawcett

Tan Frío el Verano

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 1am Shoegazing post-rock grounds this Venezuela-to-Argentina collective's sound, but the fractured glitch of the music and otherworldly alienness of the vocals keep easy accessibility at bay. The masked Buenos Aires group favors lushly camouflaged melodics, with new single "Portal" portending a third album. – Michael Toland

Tasha the Amazon

Sat. 17, the Main II, 1am Natasha Schumann boasts the best of both worlds. Fearless lyricist, she's also a diligent producer creating jarring, electronic hip-hop. Nothing prim and proper about the Canadian rapper, her lyrics offering a KO punch on 2016 EP Die Every Day, which was nominated for a Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year. – Alejandra Ramirez

Tawings

Thu. 15, Maggie Mae's, 8pm; Sat. 17, Hotel Vegas at Volstead, 9:15pm A dissonant blend of brainy instrumentation, angular guitars, throbbing bass, and girl gang vocals, Tokyo fourpiece Tawings counts only one two-track release. "Listerine" is a barbed blur clocking in at under two minutes, piercing guitars flitting in and out, while the other half of the demo, "Dad Cry," chugs Sixties surf. – Libby Webster

Tijuana Bibles

Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas Annex, 7:45pm; Fri. 16, 720 Club, 10pm Not to be confused with the Canadian trash-rock act, this Glaswegian quartet's post-punk pocket novellas brim with oversaturated emotion. Alternating between icy broods and fiery screams, frontman Tony Costello channels the darkened high drama of Nick Cave and Peter Murphy against a backdrop of sexy-bleak riffage. – Greg Beets

Totally Mild

Thu. 15, Cooper's BBQ, 8pm; Fri. 16, Lucille, 8pm Curating a retro, dream-pop landscape since 2015 debut Down Time, Australian quartet Totally Mild trickles textures carried by Elizabeth Mitchell's delicate soprano. This year's Her loses some of the fuzz and opts for a crisper tone, positioning Mitchell's voice in the center spotlight. – Isabella Castro-Cota

Trupa Trupa

Fri. 16, BD Riley's, 12mid; Sat. 17, Seven Grand, 1am Gdansk quartet Trupa Trupa made inroads on the U.S. market last year when its 2017 sophomore disc Jolly New Songs landed on a Newsweek best-of list. Haunting, atmospheric, with English lyrics, the Poles boast "elements of Sigur Ros and Radiohead," according to Rolling Stone great David Fricke, "but even darker." – Raoul Hernandez

Keith Urban

Fri. 16, Stubb's, 11pm Second only to Nashville, Austin isn't thought of as a C&W hotbed and neither is SXSW. The latter perception now modifies as the conference follows up a Garth Brooks free-for-all at Auditorium Shores last year with a far more intimate showcase by the Kiwi pop superstar. Having notched No. 1 country hits since 1991, Urban preps 10th studio LP Graffiti U for a world tour beginning in St. Louis on June 15. – Raoul Hernandez

Vacations

Tue. 13, 720 Club, 10pm Sun-kissed melodies, jangly reverb struts, and lackadaisical surf-rock rhythms all skip in Vacations' beach stroll. The Australian foursome glide through greasy guitar slides and laconic choruses on 2015 debut Days, and master a crossover between the sleepy rhythms of Mac DeMarco and the melodic Beach Fossils on Vibes (2016). – Alejandra Ramirez

Victim Mentality

Thu. 15, Dirty Dog Bar, 9pm From the teased glam hair, speed-fire guitar solos, and Eighties metal leather, Victim Mentality deliver on debut Heavy Metal Is Back. Built on Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, they're veterans of the South Korean scene. – Alejandra Ramirez

Marlon Williams

Wed. 14, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 12:45am; Thu. 15, Barracuda Backyard, 10:50pm Marlon Williams' crystalline croon turned down country and folk roads on his eponymous 2015 solo debut, but February follow-up Make Way for Love pitches his swooning range into the natural territory of torch ballads. With strings and easy throwback pop melodies, the New Zealand songwriter settles somewhere between Roy Orbison and Richard Hawley. – Doug Freeman

WSTRN

Thu. 15, the Main II, 10:45pm Wstrn's irresistible 2015 single "In2" turned a Top 5 UK hit, but the following year saw key member Akelle Charles imprisoned for his role in a particularly savage assault. Now a duo, sweet-voiced West Londoners Haile and Louis Rei remain marvels at crafting lovey urban R&B with strong hip-hop and dancehall influences. – Kevin Curtin

Xiaoxia, Mr. Asbo, Soulspeak play GuQin

Thu. 15, 3ten ACL Live, 8pm You've likely heard a guqin, but don't know it. The fretless, seven-stringed acoustic instrument resembles a pedal steel and has soundtracked countless Chinese period films. It'll be turned on its head by a virtuoso of the instrument teamed with a pair of electronic musicians who'll sample it live, resulting in the type of one-night-only cross-cultural experience that only happens at SXSW. – Dan Gentile

Yahyel

Wed. 14, International Day Stage, Austin Convention Center, 4pm; Thu. 15, Maggie Mae's, 1am; Sat. 17, Elysium, 12mid An English-speaking electro-pop band from Tokyo, Yahyel released their first EP, the critically acclaimed Y, in 2015 with the founding trio of Ikegai, Shinoda, and Sugimoto. Another extended play, Fool/Midnight Run, arrived 10 months later just before the addition of Kento Yamada and Kazuki Ooi. 2018's Human fuses emotive lyrics with bouncy synths. – Kahron Spearman

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan

Wed. 14, Dirty Dog Bar, 11:25pm; Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas Patio, 7:55pm; Fri. 16, Swan Dive, 1am This multi-modal Canadian avant-rock collective frequently overwhelms the senses with epic instrumental bombast, deeply emotive vocals, and stunning visual accompaniment. Founded in Montreal by vocalist Ruby Kato Attwood and drummer Alaska B, the ensemble builds aural mountains out of metal, folk, and theatricality, informing the noise with indigenous culture, Buddhist philosophy, and queer theory. Dirt, their first album in five years, arrives this month. – Greg Beets

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

SXSW Music Review: Keith Urban
Live Shot: Keith Urban
Country superstar’s “Wasted Time”

Doug Freeman, March 17, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW 2018, SXSW Music 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle