words by Amanda Hatfield, Andrew Sacher and Bill Pearis

Julie Byrne at Rough Trade in January (more by Ester Segretto)

SXSW is upon us. If you're traveling to get there, hopefully your trip isn't too affected by the blizzard (a few us are getting to Austin later than planned).

We hope to see you at BrooklynVegan / Sound on Sound day parties at Cheer Up Charlies happening from noon to 6 PM on Thursday (3/16), Friday (3/17), and Saturday (3/18). We booked a lot of the artists we're excited to see this year, like Priests, Downtown Boys, Beach Slang, Minus the Bear, S U R V I V E, Jay Som, Vagabon, PWR BTTM, Allison Crutchfield, Sad13, Girlpool, Cherry Glazerr, and 30 others.

Obviously we couldn't book everyone we wanted to see, and we've already pointed out some bigger stuff we're looking forward to like Solange, Mastodon, Spoon, Royal Trucks, Wu-Tang Clan, and Jimmy Eat World. Here's a list of 15 more artists we're excited to see at SXSW 2017:


Holly Macve

Writing recently about Holly Macve's excellent debut album Golden Eagle, I said: " For a very modern comparison, she reminds me of a mix of Angel Olsen and Margo Price. She’s got Angel’s knack for combining deadpan, Leonard Cohen-style folk with a high-and-lonesome yodel, and Margo’s knack for throwing in just the right amount of country twang. (Holly was born in Ireland and raised in Yorkshire, but she can really nail the vocal stylings of American folk music.) But also like both of those artists, it’s clear already that Holly can make an old style her own." [Andrew Sacher]


Jamila Woods

One of the many artists hailing from the same Chicago scene as Chance the Rapper, neo-soul singer Jamila Woods has been rising in the world since releasing her very good debut HEAVN last year. The album spends some time taking on racial injustice in America, and it sounds uplifting while doing so. [AS]



More than just "Classic Man," Janelle Monae associate Jidenna finally released his debut album this year, The Chief, and it's a diverse record that moves from Afrobeat to trap to hard-hitting, classic-style rap. Jidenna's got a delivery that blurs the lines between singing and rapping, and he tackles those various styles of music with expertise. [AS]


Joey Purp

Chicago rapper Joey Purp has been riding high off the strength of last year's iiiDrops mixtape, which features his neighbors Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Mick Jenkins, Saba, and more. The Chicago scene is constantly evolving, but Joey Purp is a guy with a more traditional style that would've gone over just fine in 1996. (It sounds good now too.) [AS]


Julie Byrne

Julie Byrne has been making hushed, addictive folk music for a few years now, and this year's Not Even Happiness (her first album for Ba Da Bing) is something of a breakthrough for her. It's one of the better '60s/'70s-style folk records to come out this year and just one of the best albums of the year in general. She's only playing a few shows. They include Stereogum's showcase and the Twin Peaks shindig. [AS]



One of the best rap debuts of last year was Noname's Telefone. She also hails from the same Chicago scene as Chance the Rapper, and she really stands out in that scene. Her live show, which includes a full band, is even more powerful than the record. [AS]


Let’s Eat Grandma

The young UK duo Let's Eat Grandma impressed us when they came through NYC to play two shows in September. At their shows, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth run through a number of instrument switches -- often in the middle of single songs -- picking up and putting down a recorder, a saxophone, keyboards, drums, and guitars. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and the result sounds a little bit eerie and often reminiscent of CocoRosie. [Amanda Hatfield]


Lift to Experience

Texas spacerock cult legends Lift to Experience had a sound as big as their home state, towering guitars, crashing drums and Josh T Pearson‘s distinctive vocals soaring above it all, plus a live show folks still talk about. In fact SXSW is part of their mythos: Former Cocteau Twins members and then-current Bella Union Records co-heads Simon Raymonde and Robyn Guthrie were so blown-away by Lift to Experience at SXSW 2000, they basically signed the band on the spot. The band, sadly, imploded shortly after making 2001's The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. (Pearson would go on to an acclaimed solo career). The band reformed in 2016 to play UK's Meltdown Festival, and just reissued The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads with a new mix that better represented their live sound. In celebration, they're reuniting and returning to SXSW, with three chances to see them this week. Will there be more after this? Maybe, but why risk it when you can see them here and now? [Bill Pearis]


Moor Mother

Moor Mother is the project of Philly musician and poet Camae Ayewa, self described maker of "low fi/dark rap/chill step/blk girl blues/witch rap/coffee shop riot gurl songs/southern girl dittys/black ghost songs." Her debut album Fetish Bones is noisy, confrontational, and powerful, with bold political statements over analog noisemakers, field recordings, and free jazz segments. Her only show is the Don Giovanni showcase at Valhalla. [AH]



Even if you don't listen to Rapsody, your favorite rapper does. She's featured on instant-classic albums like Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly and Anderson .Paak's Malibu, and she also collaborates with Talib Kweli, Big K.R.I.T., Ab-Soul, and more. Her latest release is last year's Crown EP/mixtape, which is a great example of her intricate, show-stopping rhymes.


Rocket From the Crypt

Of all the bands in the Drive Like Jehu family, the John Reis (aka Speedo)-led Rocket From the Crypt are the most fun. With matching outfits, a horn section, and smiles on their faces the whole time, the RFTC crew turn their shows into total parties. They've been reunited for a few years now, but their shows are still on the rarer side and always worth catching. Their only SXSW show is House of Vans at Mohawk on Wednesday. [AS]


Roky Erickson

There's no Ice Cream Social at Threadgill's this year, but psych rock icon Roky Erickson is still playing a show. Roky is Austin royalty, having fronted The 13th Floor Elevators and followed with a rewarding (if cult status) solo career. No chance to see him should be taken lightly. He plays Desert Daze Fest's 'Desert Daze Nights' showcase at The Scoot Inn on Tuesday (3/14, he's on at 11 PM) with JJUUJJUU, Brazilian band Boogarins, Deap Vally, Froth and Al Lover also on the bill. It's free with RSVP. [BP]



The boundary-pushing Tombs are one of the best bands in Brooklyn's metal scene. We New Yorkers get to see them a lot, but if you're heading to SXSW from somewhere else, the opportunity to catch them is not one to miss. (And even if you are coming from New York, you just might wanna catch 'em in Austin anyway.) Their latest release is last year's All Empires Fall EP, and really everything they've put out is good. [AS]

P.S. there's isn't a lot of metal at SXSW, but there's also Austin Terror Fest and a Power Trip/Pig Destroyer show.


Topaz Jones

A lot of rappers sample old funk records, but Topaz Jones aims to fuse rap and funk and blur the lines between the two genres. He pulls as much from George Clinton and Earth Wind & Fire as he does from Kendrick Lamar -- not to mention he does a pretty great Michael Jackson-via-Justin Timberlake impression on "Howlin' the Moon." Also, if you've seen him live, you know he's got some of MJ's dance moves too. [AS]


Young M.A.

In New York at least, Young M.A. may very well be the hottest new rapper around. Her 2016 single "OOOUUU" could be heard at bars or coming out of car windows all summer, and more recent singles like "Hot Sauce" prove she's got more tricks up her sleeve. She's on a fast rise, so see her at SXSW now before she returns to headline a show that's impossible to get into, like, say Migos and Rae Sremmurd. In addition to her official showcase, she'll play FADER (she's on the cover of the current issue) and Pandora's parties. [AS]


Wondering why a specific artist didn't make this list? There's a chance it's because this list doesn't include any artists playing one of our shows, or any of the "big" artists we already listed either.

List your own recommendations in the comments!