Faster Than Sound: 15 SXSW Buzz Bands to Cure Millennial Burnout

By legs, Lyft, or Lime scooter, get to the following 15 acts


Black Belt Eagle Scout (Photo by Jason Quigley)

"Millennial burnout," a new affliction just becoming known to medical science, went viral in January among twenty- and thirtysomething workaholics. Former Austin writer Anne Helen Petersen described a condition where innocuous to-do list tasks feel absolutely insurmountable. Having experienced it myself, I can attest to how deadly it can be.

Armed with an extensive list of South by Southwest 2019 must-see acts, I suddenly recall promising a friend I would stop by their dinky afternoon set. And I can just see it now: Lyft surge pricing runs 17 times the normal rates, that infamous inclement Texas weather just turned, and I'm all out of clean socks. Nevertheless, for these 15 showcasing acts, I must prevail.

Out-of-towners, don't let the mystique of Franklin Barbecue or Insane Clown Posse's acoustic performance (Thu. 14 at Come & Take It Live) deter you from the vanguard of new young talent. SXSW Music 2019 includes more than a few first-timers, carrying ascending sounds from Houston to Ireland. Whether by legs, Lyft, or Lime scooter – now banned for the week from the busiest blocks – make time for these.


Yung Baby Tate (Photo by Christian Cody)

Yung Baby Tate

Daughter of Arrested Development singer Dionne Farris, this Atlanta upstart's playful, Nineties-inspired delivery took off on 2017 single "Bob." Self-assured "Wild Girl" features fellow SX buzzer Bbymutha.

Sasami

Former Cherry Glazerr member and go-to session player for L.A.'s indie elite, Sasami Ashworth debuts on Domino Records this Friday. Fortified rock anthem "Callous" already earned dates with guitar queens Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy.

Fontaines D.C.

Hype over the Irish post-punks' live act spread after dates with fellow noisemakers Shame and Idles. Partisan Records now backs their steep rise, boasting pub poetics under Grian Chatten's Dublin parlance.

Ezra Collective

Breakout pioneers of London's new jazz resurgence, this quintet merges tradition with hip-hop, Afrobeat, and electronic. April promises a debut LP.

Angie McMahon

Dusky Melbourne crooner who broke the country's Hottest 100 with 2017's "Slow Mover," re-emerging from teenage dates with Bon Jovi. A sold-out Aussie tour precedes her U.S. debut opening for the Pixies.

Black Midi

UK quartet Black Midi garnered a hyperbolic buzz in 2018 when scene leaders Shame called them "the best band in London." One frenzied, sparse noise single and a Rough Trade signing later, early domestic adopters remain amped up for their first U.S. shows.


Sir Babygirl (Photo by Emily Dubin)

Sir Babygirl

Equally influenced by maximalist divas and Nineties cartoons, New Hampshire producer Kelsie Hogue builds a queerer dance floor. Crush on Me deconstructs bubblegum pop on Father/Daughter Records.

Pink Sweat$

Garnering over 8 million views off 2018 crooner "Honesty," the fuchsia-outfitted Philly R&B singer already sold out forthcoming bi-coastal appearances. Bluesy guitar pick "I Know" previews upcoming Volume 2.

Cautious Clay

Without a label, Brooklyn soul singer Josh Karpeh already achieved a Tiny Desk appearance and John Mayer collaboration off distinctively weightless, chilled-out R&B instrumentation.

Bedouine

Syrian-born Azniv Korkejian found precisely gentle, fingerpicked excellence on her debut in 2017. The Los Angeles singer, backed on tape by the Spacebomb Orchestra, has since roved with Real Estate and Waxahatchee.

Jealous of the Birds

NPR backs Naomi Hamilton's fiery, razor-sharp guitar melodies. The Irish singer's dense wordplay and offbeat direction precede on new EP Wisdom Teeth.

Megan Thee Stallion

Houston artist Megan Pete joins the ranks of Young Thug on 300 Entertainment, making her the label's first female rapper. "Big Ole Freak" lets the 24-year-old spit forcefully on sexual liberation.

Black Belt Eagle Scout

Queer, indigenous songwriter Katherine Paul packs her shadowy Northwest Washington landscape into the raw, indie rock beauty of Saddle Creek debut Mother of My Children.

Westerman

Delicately persistent "Confirmation" drew pop connoisseur Will Westerman out of London. The airy composer now carries spacious, organic compositions on a first full-on U.S. tour.

J.S. Ondara

Deep love for Minnesota native Bob Dylan encouraged J.S. Ondara's relocation from Kenya to Minneapolis in 2013. Folk-rock Tales of America features work with Andrew Bird and Grammy-nominated Mike Viola.


Black Pumas at the Austin Music Awards (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Crosstalk

The 37th Annual Austin Music Awards happened last Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Moody Theater. Standout performances included Best New Band winner Black Pumas' killer Song of the Year, "Black Moon Rising," and Indian rapper Abhi the Nomad's "Letter for God," off his stellar 2018 debut, Marbled. Both locals are now poised for takeoff at SXSW 2019. Continental Club guardian Dianne Scott and renowned rocker Alejandro Escovedo offered heartfelt reactions to respective reception of the Margaret Moser Women in Music and Townes Van Zandt Songwriting awards. An all-star tribute to late ATX hip-hop pioneer MC Overlord closed out the music community love-fest.

NPR's Tiny Desk holds its first-ever "Family Hour" on Tuesday, inviting unannounced alums of the beloved in-office vids for acoustic performances from 8-11pm at Central Presbyterian Church. Ultimate public radio aesthete and All Songs Considered head Bob Boilen hosts.


The Teeta (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Trill City continues its SXSW compendium of Texas rap from all regions Wednesday at Scratchouse. Offerings include Chronicle cover star The Teeta, whose wavy style grabbed a Pitchfork mention of last year's American Pop. Soulful Houston voice Tim Woods takes a lighter direction, 22-year-old Aquila reps Latin trap from Pecos, and Yak the Mack delivers for Dallas-Fort Worth. Rising local scenesters Ladi Earth and Shirt Off Fe join San Antonio eccentric P2 the Goldmask, 3000Friends, and Trill City DJs.

A Fender Guitar study last October found that half of new guitar players are women, which counters prior proclamations of widespread six-string death. Fender expands their youth-oriented efforts March 14-15 with Fender Next, marketing "the new face of guitar" with Cali dream pop sensation Cuco, plus Japanese Breakfast, Melanie Faye, and more at Lustre Pearl on Rainey.

Ra: Path of the Sun God, an obscure animated masterpiece from 1990, faded to history soon after release. Local synthesizers Holodeck Records help re-score the cult flick March 13 via the Austin Film Society. Sonic re-envisioning by local hardware sophisticate Peter Tran as Curved Light, expansive Pittsburgh composer Majeure, and True Creature.


Daphne Tunes (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Before SXSW Music kicks off, happenings stack up this weekend. Golden native and recent Grammy-grabber Kacey Musgraves sold out Saturday and Sunday at Stubb's, the first night including an aftershow by local pop presence Molly Burch. Also Saturday, DIY space 523 Thompson hosts major Brooklyn spinner Umfang, co-founder of NYC techno-feminism collective Discwoman. Sunday platforms Austin Town Hall vs. Side One Track One to Hotel Vegas. The local indie party offers 30 free bands, including Moving Panoramas, Blxpltn, Being Dead, Go Fever, and Daphne Tunes (see "Live Music Recommended,").

Y'all or Nothing lifts up queer Lone Star performers Saturday at Cheer Up Charlies, inviting New Dad's Houston-based dark techno, local drag royalty Louisianna Purchase, club enigmas P1nkstar and Y2K, and many more. Nonstop showmakers Howdy Gals, psychedelic analog-lovers Mas Music Records, and industry meet-up Womxn in Music ATX collab Sunday afternoon at Dozen Street. Blushing's fiery shoegaze and Houston dream-poppers El Lago preview the team's main Haus of Venus showcase emphasizing womxn March 15 at Lakehaus, 1402 W. Oltorf.

SXSW Music Week lineups continue streaming in. StubHub Sound Stage, March 13-14 at Banger's Sausage House, brings rap legends De La Soul with Open Mike Eagle, Leikeli47, Phony Ppl, Sir Sly, Judah & the Lion, and more. Stereogum Range Life, March 12-13 at Cheer Up Charlies, stars Texan folk force Jess Williamson, Rico Nasty, Priests, Ratboys, Illuminati Hotties, and Sidney Gish, among others. Atlanta indie establishment Deerhunter headlines the Onion & A.V. Club party Monday at Mohawk. Minneapolis icon Lizzo, proprietor of 2019 rap-pop jingle "Juice," tops a Ticketmaster Music Party March 14 at Stubb's.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW Music 2019, J.S. Ondara, Westerman, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Megan Thee Stallion, Jealous of the Birds, Bedouine, Cautious Clay, Pink Sweat$, Sir Babygirl, Yung Baby Tate, Black Midi, Angie McMahon, Ezra Collective, Fontaines D.C., Sasami

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