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20 Essential SXSW Acts to Catch on Tour This Spring

on March 20, 2019, 7:14pm
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This article is sponsored by StubHub 

We made it. SXSW 2019 is in the books, along with new chapters in the careers of the thousands of musicians that descended on Austin this month. Since self-cloning technology is still a few years away, even SXSW attendees weren’t able to catch all of the memorable sets that went down last week. That’s okay, though; with spring also comes peak touring season, and the artists who you missed in Austin are already gearing up for tours that will take them a little closer to your home (wherever that may be).

Don’t believe us? Check out StubHub, the online ticket-selling superstars who give you easy access to rad shows and events in more than 50 countries around the world. In addition to helping you catch the hottest tours of the spring and summer, they also know how to throw a killer party: one of our favorite stages at SXSW this year happened to be the StubHub Sound Stage, where sets by rising stars like Judah and the Lion, Leikeli47, and Sir Sly gave attendees a glimpse at the songs they’ll be singing non-stop six months from now. Read on to find out about the rest of our SXSW favorites with upcoming tours in the works, and then head over to StubHub and book your next unforgettable night.

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Judah and the Lion

Judah and the Lion

The mandolin and banjo are ancient instruments, but in the hands of Nashville’s Judah and the Lion, they’re 21st century hitmakers. On their first two records, the band expanded and subverted folk tradition with heady infusions of rock, hip-hop, and EDM; on their third, the upcoming Pep Talks, they’ll fuse that anything-goes spirit with a turn towards the confessionalism that earned folk music its place in the American musical rotation to begin with. Does it work? Ask the packed crowd that caught them in Austin last week.

Get Tour Tickets Here

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Leikeli47

Leikeli47, photo by Killian Young

Leikeli47, photo by Killian Young

There’s power behind a mask. Just ask Batman. Better yet, ask Leikeli47, the enigmatic hip-hop MC who brought her intricate, unapologetic flow to the SXSW leg of her wide-ranging spring tour last week. From behind her the bandanna mask that’s quickly become her signature look, the self-described “rockstar mixed with a ghetto chick” got crowds moving to the martial beat of “Tic Boom” and other cuts from her acclaimed 2018 record, Acrylic. Catch her now, and thank us later.

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Sir Sly

Sir Sly

Sir Sly

As the midnight hour brought SXSW 2019’s Wednesday night to a close, the men of Sir Sly were only getting started. The trio behind 2017’s infectious single “High” kept the crowd at Bangers going on into Thursday morning with a tight set of their groove-laced indie rock. You’ll hear it, too, when Sir Sly descends on summer festivals including Napa’s BottleRock, Delaware’s Firefly, and Gulf Shores’ Hangout, where they’ll play featured sets all three days.

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Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish "wish you were gay" new song stream release pop music

Billie Eilish, photo by Heather Kaplan

We named Billie Eilish our musical Rookie of the Year in 2018, and she’s done absolutely nothing since then to sway our confidence. That includes her triumphant return to SXSW: two years after making her Austin debut as an anonymous 15-year-old, Eilish stormed back as a 17-year-old conqueror, treating a rapturous packed house to a live sneak peek at her upcoming debut LP, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

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Broken Social Scene

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Broken Social Scene, SXSW 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

Always the mellowest (and most critically beloved) of the indie rock supergroups to come out of Canada in the ’00s, Broken Social Scene nonetheless kept the schedule of a younger, hungrier band at this year’s SXSW; Kevin Drew and company played five shows in five days, including a full album run-through of 2003’s seminal You Forgot It in People that likely sent at least one thirtysomething attendee into a Proustian nostalgia spiral.

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Deerhunter

Deerhunter Element Philip Cosoroes new song

Deerhunter, photo by Philip Cosores

At his band’s lone SXSW set this year, mercurial Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox closed out Monday night like only he could: by preaching the gospel of ecological collapse and emotional entropy to a packed crowd of festivalgoers at the Mohawk’s outdoor stage. That may seem like an unnatural fit until you hear the band’s newest record, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, a “thoughtful meditation on destruction” that we found as irresistible as it is bleak.

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The Get Up Kids

Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Bowl, South by Southwest 2019, The Get Up Kids

The Get Up Kids, CoS x Brooklyn Bowl, SXSW 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

When they chose their band name back in 1995, The Get Up Kids probably weren’t banking on retaining it into their 40s (or becoming emo legends in the process). We’re glad they did; we’re also glad they hit up SXSW for a pair of late-night sets in preparation for a new record and an upcoming European tour. Catch ’em when they come back through the States; as the Austin American-Statesman put it in their recap: “The Get Up Kids still got it.”

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Khalid

Khalid "My Bad" Free spirit album new pop music releases stream

Khalid, photo by Heather Kaplan

Two years ago, Khalid made his SXSW debut in the 4 p.m. slot of a day party less than two weeks after the release of his album American Teen. Since then, the album’s gone multi-platinum, and the man himself has moved into the rarified air of SXSW prime time. If you didn’t catch his set at the Uber Eats House this year, never fear; with new album Free Spirit set to drop at the beginning of April, we think you’ll have plenty of chances to catch this rising star on the way up.

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Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers

Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers Bought to Rot Album Announcement Apocalypse Now & Later

Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers, photo by Bryce Mata

After a run of critically lauded records with her main band, Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace used a bout of songwriting frustration to explore a different side of her craft. The result is Bought to Rot, a garaged-up collection of power pop that was on full display during the band’s three appearances at SXSW. The band’s stops in Austin mark the beginning of their latest tour, which we’d recommend catching (even if she did diss our shared city on album standout “I Hate Chicago”).

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Lizzo

Lizzo Juice The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Andrew Lipovsky NBC

Lizzo on The Tonight Show, photo via Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

We’d only just gotten Lizzo’s rump-shaking 2018 single “Boys” out of our collective heads when her star-spangled showcase set at SXSW got it stuck in there all over again. She and her dancers, The Big Grrrls, put on one of the most talked-about sets of the festival (a headline over at Paste proclaimed “Shut It Down, Lizzo Just Won SXSW”), and they’ll be taking their singular show (and new music) on the road soon after new record Cuz I Love You drops in April.

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Wyclef Jean

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Wyclef Jean, SXSW 2019, photo by Heather Kaplan

It’s hard to believe that 23 years have passed since the release of the Fugees’ seminal The Score, but it’s equally hard to remember a world without it (and why would you want to, anyway?). Wyclef Jean could rest on his successes from decades ago, but thankfully for us, he’s chosen not to; at SXSW, his attention was solely on his new project, Wyclef Jean Goes Back to School, which pairs his mastery with the talents of college students from around the country. We suspect a tour will soon follow.

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Big Boi

big boi jimmy kimmel sleepy brown order of operations

Big Boi, photo by Ben Kaye

It was family reunion time at Lady Bird Lake last Friday, as the legendary Atlanta hip-hop collective the Dungeon Family gave the crowd at SXSW a preview of its upcoming April tour. Though we were hoping for an Andre 3000 sighting (let’s be honest: that’s always true), the fired-up set from Big Boi, Goodie Mob, and Sleepy Brown conjured up a bygone ATL without any outside help.

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Alice Phoebe Lou

alice phoebe lou street performer berlin artist of the month

Alice Phoebe Lou

Alice Phoebe Lou’s appearance at SXSW also marks the beginning of her very first North American tour, but even though she’s just now hitting the road in the states, the 25-year-old South African singer-songwriter is an Austin veteran; she first appeared at SXSW in 2015 and has been coming back every year since. Our Artist of the Month for March certainly did us proud this time around, even appearing at our Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion at the Scoot Inn.

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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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