Following the cancellation of South by Southwest in 2020 and its all-virtual iteration in 2021, this year marks the return of live music (with COVID-19 guidelines in place) to the festival. Since the first SXSW Music Festival in 1987, the event has grown to include national and international musicians, but it still celebrates local Texas artists. This year is no different, with dozens of Lone Star musicians gracing the stages in downtown Austin next week. Here are five you won’t want to miss.
The alternative pop and R&B singer has come a long way after singing covers of Mariah Carey and SZA at her San Antonio home in 2017 and 2018. Now based in Los Angeles, she has since released her debut album, 2019’s Dream Catcher, as well as popular singles such as “Hometown” and “Blue Lights”. Her tender lyrics about heartbreak and longing, enhanced by her angelic vocals, perfectly encapsulate her claim to be a “sensitive Texas gangsta who makes songs from her diary.” Expect her to produce her new single, “Pink Honda Civic.”
Execution: March 19, 12 p.m. at HouseParty
If you’ve spent quite a bit of time on TikTok, you’ve probably heard snippets of “Loverboy.” It’s hard to pass up when the song has been used in over 114,000 videos since its release in 2019. Aaron Paredes’ viral hit, which goes by the name A-Wall, is a catchy portrayal of “bedroom pop.” , although he also draws inspiration from EDM and experiments with R&B and hip-hop sounds. Paredes writes, records and produces all of his music from his bedroom studio in Arlington, which he built after selling his beloved 1958 Ford Thunderbird. A-Wall is working on his third album, Automatic pilot.
efficient: March 16, 11 p.m. at Esther’s Follies
The soft, retro sounds of Luna Luna’s music carry me into a slow dance on the gym floor under a disco ball, wearing a puffy-shouldered pastel dress as my date gently holds me by the size. Never mind that I haven’t actually had such an experience, because the dreamy synth-pop songs “Commitment” and, more recently, “Call Me Up” evoke such a specific vibe of tender, young love. The group was founded in 2017 in Dallas by lead singer Kevin González, but quickly expanded to include Kaylin Martínez, Ryan Gordon and Danny Bonilla. The quartet recently left their home base and brought their dreamy sounds to Austin.
March 15, 12 p.m. at Speakeasy
March 16, 5 p.m. at the Radio Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center
March 17, 12:15 a.m. at the Vegas Patio Hotel
The eight-member group has long cemented its position as the champions of “Gulf Coast Soul.” Led by the powerful voice of Kam Franklin, guided by the soft percussion of Jose Luna, and wonderfully rhythmic by the trumpet of Jon Durbin, the sound of the group has a bit of everything: rock, jazz, reggae, salsa , and lots of soul. If you haven’t yet experienced the good and often danceable vibes of The Suffers live, be sure to check out their performances on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and the Last show to taste. The group may be entering its eleventh year, but they are still releasing new songs, including a lively ode to pre-pandemic life, “Take Me to the Good Times” and “How Do We Heal”, a dark memory of Juneteenth and a legacy of racial oppression.
Execution: March 17, 12:05 a.m. in Augustine
We don’t ride llamas
The four Mitchell siblings—lead vocalist Max, guitarist Chase, bassist Kit, and drummer Blake—are my new favorite family band (and SXSW’s best-named band). WDRL looks like a black punk-rock band, but it’s much more than that. Spend some time exploring the wide range of covers the siblings have shared online, including songs by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bob Marley, Lenny Kravitz, Mitski, and Khruangbin, and you’ll fully appreciate their musical talents. Although they’ve only released a few original songs, they’ve toured with another of their musical inspirations, Willow Smith, and recently won the Austin Music Award for Best Metal. Two of their singles, “The Flies” and “Venus & Mars”, are fun teasers of what we can expect from their upcoming EP.
March 16, 1am at Valhalla
March 17 at the Iron Bear
March 19, 1:30 p.m. at Flatstock Stage at the Austin Convention Center