Amidst the hundreds of showcases and thousands of bands slated to be at this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX, it is difficult to strike a balance between the established artists and the up-and-coming talent that soon after the festival becomes the next big thing. To help you with your scheduling dilemmas, in addition to BMI’s Bar 96 showcase, here are 15 can’t miss BMI acts to catch at SXSW 2014.
Young & Sick
8:00 p.m., Haven; Weds. 3/12 at 10:00 p.m., Hype Hotel
Young & Sick is a multimedia project based in Los Angeles. You’ve seen their art on Foster the People and Robin Thicke’s album covers, you’ve seen their fashion design at Urban Outfitters, and now, you will finally see the faces behind the Young & Sick name and the Soundcloud page full of sleek, heartfelt R&B. With new material rumored to be more up-tempo and a freshly inked deal with Harvest Records, this is a set not to miss.
Caught A Ghost
11:00 p.m., Buffalo Billiards; Sat. 3/15 at 8:00 p.m., Hype Hotel
Seamlessly combining bass-heavy production and soulful vocals, Los Angeles based Caught A Ghost’s songs are sure to get caught in your head. The brainchild of Motown fanatic Jesse Nolan, the songwriter/producer/lead singer has created a type of danceable neo-soul that feels familiar but unlike anything else being made today.
12:00 a.m., Haven
BANKS’ sultry voice and honest songwriting would be reason enough to see her perform. That flawless voice paired with some of today’s most interesting and innovative electronic production, though, renders her a must-see. Having spent the year touring with The Weeknd and with an onslaught of festival dates to come, a BANKS performance will probably never be this small and intimate again.
8:00 p.m., Half Step
Avid Dancer is Jacob Summers, a former U.S. Marine and longtime snare drummer. This background explains his fresh, unique take on 1960s psychedelia - the hazy vocals and jangling melodies of generations past are neatly reassembled into radio-ready and summer-friendly tunes like “Stop Playing With My Heart,” a perfectly chill way to start a SXSW evening.
10:00 p.m., Shotguns
A staple on country radio in the 1990s, with hits like “Drive South” and “Outbound Plane,” Suzy Bogguss has returned in full force. Her latest release, Lucky, is a collection of re-imagined Merle Haggard songs that pay homage to the originals but add new full band arrangements and the power of her voice.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
10:05 p.m., The Market
Considering their upbringing on gospel music in the deep south and time spent recording in legendary R&B hub Muscle Shoals, it isn’t even necessary to say that Alabama sextet St. Paul and the Broken Bones have soul. However, it is essential to mention the impeccably tight musicianship of the brass section and amount of fun to be had at their shows.
11:00 p.m., Blackheart
Bad Suns may be categorized as a rock band, but that title doesn’t do their music justice. The Transpose EP’s catchy hooks and danceable beats add a degree of originality and artistry to their arena-ready anthems that’s severely lacking in today’s rock landscape, making them a surefire good show and a must-see.
1:00 a.m., Cheer Up Charlie’s; Sat. 3/15 at 11:30 p.m., Hotel Vegas Patio
With live shows that consistently erupt into wild mosh pits and promise ridiculous stage from frontman Mario Cuomo, Chicago punks The Orwells are barely out of high school but seem like a band who has been on the road for years. Infectious choruses, interminable energy - it may be late, but it’s worth it.
11:00 p.m., Trinity Hall @ Old School
The bedroom project of longtime friends Joe Haller and Chris Duran has left the house for the beach and days of sun. The now-quintet’s breezy, well-produced indie pop music offers both the catchy melodies to land on summer playlists and the lyrics to give it staying power. For a spot of sun in the middle of the night, Cheerleader is the place to be.
Tony Joe White
11:00 p.m., Continental Club
With a career that spans 40 years, includes nearly 30 records and has shared stages Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker, prolific songwriter and swamp rock master Tony Joe White returns with his newest studio effort Hoodoo. With that signature growl and nearly a half century of country and rock music stories to tell, his set will be something special.
1:00 a.m., Soho Lounge
Delectably sweet three-part vocal harmonies, a knack for psychedelic grooves and catchy melodies make Cheers Elephant irresistible first just on paper. Add a tireless work ethic, tons of positive energy and the self-proclaimed “best indie rock haircuts” in person and the Los Angeles based quartet is a shoo-in for the next big thing.
9:00 p.m., Haven
Instead of sticking to the build-and-drop formulaic electronic dance music dominating the field today, Los Angeles based DJ Bixel Boys opts for a more varied method. Taking the catchiest sampled R&B vocals and pairing them with a vintage deep house beat, only to shortly transition into a trap beat makes their performances dynamic, unpredictable and a ton of fun.
7:00 p.m., Mexican American Cultural Center
Between a deal with Universal Music, Major Lazer cuts and a special edition Puma sneaker, cousins Raka Rich and Raka Dun are set for global domination. The Panamanian duo, now residing in the Bay Area, is making some of today’s most exciting hip-hop. Combining semi-autobiographical stories about immigrant life with a fresh mix of low key dancehall and hard-hitting beats, Los Rakas story and music are both an inspiration.
8:25 p.m., Whole Foods Rooftop Plaza
For a burst of energy as the week wanes, BLEAUX will be the place to be. The Hollywood-based quartet specializes in a unique fusion of up-tempo electro, new wave and pop-punk that makes sure not to let songwriting fall by the wayside.
9:00 p.m., St. David’s Historic Sanctuary
Johnnyswim’s power comes from the interplay between Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez, the couple’s strong voices traversing the blues, folk, and rock effortlessly as they sing their tales of love and loss. With a full-length album and extensive touring in the works for 2014, Johnnyswim’s easy on the ears, fresh take on singer-songwriter tunes are a perfect way to end a hectic week in Austin.
For more information on everything BMI is up to in Austin this year see our SXSW 2014 page.