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20 Essential SXSW Acts to Catch on Tour This Spring

on March 20, 2019, 7:14pm
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Charly Bliss

kaplan cos sxsw 31619 CharlyBliss 4 e1552940859278 20 Essential SXSW Acts to Catch on Tour This Spring

Charly Bliss, SXSW 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

Charly Bliss frontwoman Eva Hendricks isn’t actually a stack of spinning tops that stole a human suit and taught themselves to sing, but if you’ve seen the band live, you’d be forgiven for making that assumption. In her manic hands, the band’s tight indie pop morphs into an aural sugar rush, one that kept crowds at the band’s late-night sets moving later and faster than they might’ve expected. With new album Young Enough dropping May 10, expect more of the same near you this summer.

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Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast, photo by Caroline Daniel

Japanese Breakfast, photo by Caroline Daniel

If we had to pick one word to describe Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, it might just be “indefatigable.” After quietly dropping two incredible records in two years (we’re still listening to 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet), Zauner launched her own version of the neverending tour, which included 94 shows in 2018 and a whopping five sets at this year’s SXSW alone. As quickly as she came, she was gone again, heading out for more spring dates across the US.

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The Joy Formidable

Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Bowl, South by Southwest 2019, The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable, CoS x Brooklyn Bowl, SXSW 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

Welsh trio Joy Formidable live up to the billing, consistently turning out chaotically controlled indie rock that’s as emotionally exuberant as it is technically impressive. The SXSW veterans got back to the businesses of socking crowds in the face with music during three featured sets at this year’s event and will soon be returning stateside for an appearance at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees festival in May.

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Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks' Tim Showalter, photo by Philip Cosores

Strand of Oaks’ Tim Showalter, photo by Philip Cosores

After emerging to wide critical acclaim with 2014’s HEAL, Strand of Oaks’ Tim Showalter established himself as one of folk rock’s most evocative voices, but even evocative voices falter now and again. After a creative drought, Showalter is back in full blossom; over the course of four featured sets at this year’s SXSW, he revealed the latest wrinkles in his evolution with tracks from Eraserland, his forthcoming record and paean to perseverance.

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Pedro the Lion

Pedro the Lion, photo by Jim Bennett

Pedro the Lion, photo by Jim Bennett

It’s been years since David Bazan last donned the melancholy mantle of Pedro the Lion, so it was refreshing to see him and his band back in all of their sad glory at a late-night set at the Mohawk. Bazan appeared in support of his new record, Phoenix, which contains some of the most personal music in a career already marked by confessionalism. If you catch their band on their current tour, be sure to pack a hankie.

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Sego

sego sucks shame origins tom kenney new album

Sego, photo by Tom Kenney

The best kind of confidence is the self-deprecating kind. That seems to be the mantra of Utah rockers Sego, who named their forthcoming second album Sego Sucks after the insulting hashtag hurled at them online. So, does Sego suck? Reader, they do not. Need proof? Check out “Shame”, which channels the same slacker spirits that animated Beck or Austin legends Spoon into the kind of single you leave on repeat. Then, see what crowds at Empire Garage, Maggie Mae’s, and The Iron Bar already know when they come to your town this spring.

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Tasha

Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Bowl, South by Southwest 2019, Tasha

Tasha, CoS x Brooklyn Bowl, SXSW 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

When asked to describe the music on her debut record, Alone at Last, Chicago’s Tasha summed up her vision by saying, “These songs are bed songs.” The spirit of gentleness and self-care suffuses every track on that record and surely provided some momentary sonic respite to fest-weary concertgoers during her three sets at SXSW this year. Currently on a wide-ranging spring tour with Hand Habits, she’ll be helping fans sleep sounder and live gentler in cities across America.

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