The Austin Chronicle

Essential Indie Acts at SXSW Music

Sneaks, Speedy Ortiz, and six other indie sets you won't want to miss

By Libby Webster, March 16, 2018, Music

Anna Burch

Tue. 13, Valhalla, 10:20pm; Thu. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 10pm

This Detroiter maintains a careful balance between twee and slacker rock on February solo debut Quit the Curse (Polyvinyl). Burch's shimmery concoction leans heavily on Nineties disaffect, "Asking 4 a Friend" trudging sing-songy skuzz and apathetic vocals alongside the longing, twang-n-tropics-infused "Belle Isle."


Tue. 13, Barracuda, 1am; Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas Patio, 10:45pm

Everything about Omni's sophomore LP Multi-task prickles. The Atlanta trio's spastic sound splits off into every direction, over-active and frenetic. Snarling guitars serve as the through-line for stop-and-go, jittery sonics, agitated punk at odds with impassive vox.


Wed. 14, Barracuda, 8pm; Sat. 17, Lamberts, 1am

Rare Feeling conjures unexpected devastation, a crushing swell of emotion that sneaks up on you slowly. From carefully curated ATX imprint Keeled Scales, the latest from Virginia-based troubadour Matt Davidson tangles heartache through warbling, expansive vocals reminiscent of both Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley. Immersive, moving, lovingly earnest folk.


Wed. 14, Javelina, 8pm

Eva Moolchan commands with minimal tools. As Sneaks, the D.C. artist employs only a drum machine and thumping basslines to build out slinky soundscapes of post-punk hip-hop. It's a Myth, her sophomore LP and debut for Merge Records, clocks in at under 20 minutes, yielding addictive pop simplicity "Look Like That" and "Hair Slick Back."


Wed. 14, Barracuda Backyard, 9:25pm

Crumb's atmospheric lo-fi glimmers with the slightest Brooklyn jangle, an underlying swirl of psychedelia, dream-pop, and jazz. Understated and mellow, the quartet blends all behind Lila Ramani's spacey vocals. Last year's second EP Locket yielded spacious easy listening.


Thu. 15, Scoot Inn, 8pm; Sat. 17, Cheer Up Charlies, 12:10am

The jarring first single from forthcoming debut Endless Scroll wants to know "How Did This Happen!?" Self-effacing and painfully observant, the Brooklynites' frontman Ben Hozie rattles off the pitfalls of consumption, of being plugged in, of algorithms, barking: "Your playlist knows you better than your closest lover!" A trilling, post-punk call to arms.

Speedy Ortiz

Thu. 15, Clive Bar, 10pm

Speedy Ortiz's third release Twerp Verse finds the Mass-based quartet veering down a dramatically different path. New single "Lucky 88" pulsates with pop, sounding closer to Sad13, the solo guise of frontwoman Sadie Dupuis. Speedy Ortiz still throbs knotted headiness and cutting lyrics, but now diverges from that Nineties Helium sound.

U.S. Girls

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas Patio, 11:30pm

More than a decade into Toronto artist Meg Remy's work as U.S. Girls, her most recent release for 4AD, In a Poem Unlimited, is incensed, shape-shifting feminist pop. Backed by ornate arrangements, a creeping dissonance bubbles beneath the pop sheen as Remy regales the search for meaning in womanhood.

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