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SXSW 2018: 10 Acts We Can't Wait to See

As hundreds of artists and thousands of festival-goers descend on Austin, Texas, for the 2018 SXSW Music Festival, these are some of the acts OPB staff have marked to see this week.

1. Nilüfer Yanya 

Nilüfer Yanya is a 22-year-old from West London with a smoky voice who brings both grit and sophistication to a softly swinging R&B sound. Her 2017 breakout hit, “Baby Luv,” made Yanya an artist to watch in 2018. She plays four showcases this week at SXSW. — Mike Baden

2. Hatchie

Brisbane, Australia, songwriter Harriette Pillbeam, aka Hatchie, has put out two songs, and I am fascinated. Swirling guitars and dreamy, layered vocals immediately bring to mind the best of The Sundays and The Cranberries, and the video for “Sure” puts her references squarely in the 80s. However you want to frame it, Hatchie is an artist I am intent on checking out in Austin. — Matt Casebeer

3. Goat Girl

At SXSW you always hope to see a new band that’s poised to break out, and upstart UK band Goat Girl fits the bill. Start with a hilarious send-up of fandom in their video “The Man.” — David Christensen

4. Blue Lab Beats and UK Jazz

For the second straight year, England is sending in their heavy hitters of jazz to SXSW. Standout UK music promoter Jazz Re:Freshed presents a showcase on Wednesday, March 14 at The Main II that includes drummer Moses Boyd, the Ashley Henry Trio, saxophonist Nubya Garcia, vocalist Zara McFarlane, Ezra Collective and Blue Lab Beats. 

Every player in this showcase has talent and imagination to burn, smashing the walls between jazz, hip-hop, electronica and beyond.  Take a peek at the mind-expanding video for Blue Lab Beats’ “Pineapple” below, featuring the drumming prowess of Moses Boyd. — Derek Smith

5. Say Sue Me

As far as we know, the only surf-inspired indie-rock quartet from South Korea to play SXSW this year, Say Sue Me brings super catchy songs that will force you to dance and grin. Check out their latest single, “Old Town.” — Mike Baden

6. Durand Jones & the Indications

The world lost two wonderful soul artists in Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley in the last two years. Thankfully, new artists are working in their timeless musical footsteps. Louisiana-native Durand Jones intended to be a sax player in a rock ‘n’ roll band but had a voice that belonged in front. I’m excited to catch Durand Jones & the Indications for the first time at SXSW to hear more like their song “Smile”  — David Christensen

 7. Anna Burch

We’ve been playing cuts from Anna Burch’s debut, “Quit The Curse” on opbmusic, and they are all the kind of songs that get stuck in your head. Take the quirkiness of Courtney Barnett, sprinkle in the charm of Alvvays, add the grit of Detroit, MI, and you might get close to the sound of Anna Burch. My only concern is being able to get into the venue. — Matt Casebeer

8. Snail Mail

After the 2016 release of a six-song EP, Snail Mail quickly drew a lot of national press. Frontwoman Lindsey Jordan is a classically trained guitarist who delivers beautiful, heartfelt songs that are wise beyond her 18 years. Snail Mail is set to release their full-length debut this year. — Mike Baden

9. Twain

I just came across this song by Twain last week and it stopped me in my tracks; so beautifully sung and allowed to unfold in such a sweetly unhurried way. Twain is the musical name of songwriter Matt Davidson, a California artist and Berklee College of Music grad with a high crooning voice and songs that crossover between indie folk and old-school soul. — David Christensen

10. ???

Discovery is my favorite part of SXSW. Sometimes it is checking out an artist I’ve heard and never seen live; more often it’s simply experiencing bands on a whim. Venue proximity, time of day, and more superficial determiners like band name all contribute to who I decide to check out. Two years ago I discovered Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Last year it was Mondo Cozmo and The Blind Owls. I have no idea who I’ll discover in 2018, but that’s the fun of it. — Matt Casebeer

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