SXSW is here once again! One of the world’s best showcase festivals has emerged triumphantly after a COVID instituted hiatus. Say nothing of the Interactive, Film, or Unofficial SXSW happenings, the fact that over 700 musical artists have performances on the official schedule is absurd. It’s a herculean task to filter through all of those artists and find the ones that excite you most.
But, fine reader, one of my many jobs is as an automation engineer, so I used those skills to assist in my vetting process. Succinctly put, I wrote some code to scrape every single of the 1052 artist pages from SXSW website, put all the info in one file, and exported it to a Google spreadsheet so I could make some sense of all the data. I filtered out all artists who signed up with SXSW but couldn’t land a showcase, which brought the number down to 649 artists. Not so bad! I then listened to the music for nearly every single artist on that list. One part masochism, one part curiosity; frankly I just wanted to give everyone a chance.
In an absurdly arbitrary attempt to find the artists I wanted to see most, I would give each artist a star ranking (1-5), and provide some quick notes for justification. I tried to be as quick as possible so as not to spend three years going through this effort, but it honestly took an extraordinary amount of time. But boy oh boy was the end result fruitful! After I went through everybody on the list I found so, so many new artists that were completely off my radar. What else is a showcase festival for except for discovery?
At any rate, I have two things for you. I have a Spotify playlist with 80 songs on it linked below, loosely ordered by my arbitrary power ranking. I’m also going to highlight 22 artists in particular who I’m most excited about, and who I will definitely not miss. Hopefully in some small way this will help you hone in on what you want to see. And, if you’re interested in getting access the the spreadsheet with my rankings, feel free to shoot me an email to ask for it!
I’ll mostly be using the descriptions that the artists posted on their SXSW page, because most of these artists I’ve never even heard of. In no particular order, here are 22 artists I’m extremely excited to see during SXSW 2022.
If you want a more local angle, read about the food trucks and restaurants you should be eat at during SXSW and then the best local Austin artists to see.
1. BeBe Deluxe
“Outspoken, hilarious, & not afraid to ruffle feathers”, the BeBe Deluxe sound combines a full pop spectrum, including alternative, indie & glitch. Deluxe, armed with cutting lyrics about the transgender experience and addictive dance hooks, aims to redefine what it means to be a trans woman in the entertainment industry.
BeBe Deluxe at Cheer Up Charlie’s – Mar 19, 2022 8:00pm — 8:25pm
2. Tequila Rock Revolution
Tequila Rock Revolution is a metal-fueled, Mariachi-infused spectacle of sight and sound paying homage to the tradition of Mariachi through an unprecedented fusion with modern metal and electronica. The band is the brainchild of Austin Latino Rocker/Electric Violinist Haydn Vitera.
Tequila Rock Revolution at Cooper’s BBQ – Mar 19, 2022 – 12:00am — 12:40am
3. Lil Cherry
Drawing her influences growing up in Miami, New York and Seoul, Lil Cherry pushes the boundaries of K-Pop and Korean hip-hop and paves her own narrative through her music and as an artist. Threaded with the recipes of the cities she grew up immersed in, resulting in sonic cuisines that serve as a cultural meeting point for listeners of various backgrounds.
Lil Cherry & GOLDBUUDA at Higher Ground – Mar 17, 2022 11:00pm — 11:40pm
Lil Cherry & GOLDBUUDA at Reina + ReyRey – Mar 19, 2022 12:10am — 12:40am
Dorian Delafuente, better known as BabiBoi, is a Queer rapper/songwriter from San Antonio that is currently based in Austin, TX. BabiBoi began his music career as a way of expressing a part of his identity that felt repressed throughout his upbringing. He utilizes his raunchy demeanor and radical queerness as an instrument to bring life to a community that is mis/under-represented in the music industry as a whole.
BabiBoi at Coconut Club Rooftop – Mar 16, 2022 8:20pm — 8:40pm
MOTHERMARY makes retro-futuristic art pop. Named after the mother of Christ, the ultimate symbol of religious hypocrisy and the impossible expectations placed on women, the bicoastal project is the brainchild of identical twins Elyse & Larena, who grew up in a Mormon family in Missoula, Montana, the youngest of nearly a dozen children. The sound Elyse and Larena have created is indeed extremely specific. The contrast of light and dark — of exquisite, ethereal vocals and dark, even gritty instrumentation — is elusive and engrossing, a unique juxtaposition that’s entirely in keeping with the sensibility of sisters who have always refused to be pinned down or defined.
MOTHERMARY at Elysium – Mar 16, 2022 – 11:10pm — 11:30pm
6. Antti Paalanen
Combining traditional Finnish music with Electronic Dance Music, all on the accordion … this is Antti Paalanen’s challenge. The artist thus superimposes the good-natured atmosphere of the accordion on the heady beats of electronic music.
Antti Paalanen at Antone’s – Mar 16, 2022
Antti Paalanen at Flamingo Cantina – Mar 17, 2022 – 1:00am — 1:50am
7. Jelani Blackman
Heavily influenced by R&B and soul, yet coming up at a time when Grime was everywhere, Jelani’s sound swerves stereotypes, blending the hard with the soft, the dark with the light; reflected in an impressively diverse rollcall of collaborators that spans from Brian Eno to Burna Boy, Wolf Alice to Big Zuu, and, most recently, Gorillaz and Barrington Levy.
Jelani Blackman at British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard – Mar 19, 2022 – 10:00pm — 10:40pm
8. Pom Pom Squad
But now, tumbling through her first queer romance—and her first queer heartbreak—some of that self-separateness began to mend: “Suddenly,” she says, “I was in a body that was mine.” The result of this stymying, galvanizing period—of escaping to come back—is their debut album: Death of a Cheerleader. With Death of a Cheerleader, Pom Pom Squad offer a fresh and decidedly queer take on picking up the pieces—from heartbreak, from injustice—and creating yourself anew.
Pom Pom Squad at Lustre Pearl – Mar 16, 2022 – 10:15pm — 10:50pm
Pom Pom Squad at Stubb’s – Mar 17, 2022 – 10:00pm — 10:40pm
Pom Pom Squad at Empire Garage – Mar 18, 2022 – 3:00pm — 3:45pm
Pom Pom Squad at Augustine – Mar 18, 2022 – 1:00am — 1:50am
Pom Pom Squad at Channel 3 – Mar 19, 2022 – 5:00pm — 6:00pm
9. Portrait XO
Portrait XO is an artist who creates musical and visual works with traditional and non-traditional methods. In collaboration with Dadabots, they won “Best Experiment” award at VUT Indie Awards 2021, Eurovision AI Song Contest Jury Vote for ‘most creative use of AI’ in 2020, and completed her artist residency at Factory Berlin x Sonar+D in 2020. She researches computational creativity, human-machine collaboration, and explores new formats & applications for forward-thinking art and sound.
Portrait XO at Neon Grotto – Mar 14, 2022 – 9:00pm — 9:30pm
Portrait XO at The Hideout – Mar 15, 2022 – 12:00am — 12:40am
Written, produced and creative-directed by the production polymath, real name Daisy Emily Warne, her album MiiRROR explores “the duality of emotions: good and bad, light and dark” across ten songs and a story full of demons and junk yards. The tale it tells may be fantastical, pulling fans through oil-smudged cities and glistening opaline clouds towards a climax in a beat-up transit truck, but it’s a universe built on real-life heartache – not so much a demon fire, but a brutal, beautiful inferno.
BABii at Half Step Mar 16, 2022 – 8:00pm — 8:40pm
BABii at Creek and the Cave Backyard Mar 18, 2022 – 11:30pm — 12:00am
BABii at British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard Mar 19, 2022 – 3:50pm — 4:20pm
11. Angélica Rahe
“We are treated to entrancing cascades of guitar, Spanish poetry whisper sung over lush and lovely soundscapes and a sensual vision of femininity at its most powerful.” – Austin American-Statesman
Angélica Rahe at Higher Ground – Mar 16, 2022 – 1:00am — 1:50am
Inspired by the likes of artists such as Frank Ocean, Julian Casablancas, Homeshake, Poolside, etc. multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, guitarist and vocalist of The F16s, Josh Fernandez decided to pursue his solo dream project on the side, thus creating JBABE. He describes his music as lo-fi, indie-pop mixed with rhythm and blues.
JBABE at Higher Ground – Mar 16, 2022 – 7:30pm — 8:10pm
JBABE at Flatstock Stage at Austin Convention Center – Mar 18, 2022 – 11:30am — 12:10pm
13. Balming Tiger
A diverse music collective taking their name from the famous Asian tiger balm ointment, Balming Tiger is a self-proclaimed “Multi-national Alternative K-pop band” with the desire to create a global impact. Balming Tiger’s main creative vision is to reflect and represent today’s younger generation of society with the goal of further popularizing Asian culture to the rest of the world.
Balming Tiger at International Day Stage at Brush Square Park – Mar 17, 20223:00pm — 3:40pm
Balming Tiger at Reina + ReyRey – Mar 19, 20221:30am — 2:00am
Balming Tiger at Swan Dive – Mar 20, 2022
MEMES is a duo that formed in Glasgow, UK, in spring 2019. Their debut single “Blah Blah Blah” earned the band a Steve Lamacq live session on BBC 6 Music and regular radio airplay on BBC and Amazing Radio (from Steve Lamacq, Vic Galloway, Tom Robinson and Charlie Ashcroft).
MEMES at Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside – Mar 15, 2022 – 11:00pm — 11:40pm
MEMES at Swan Dive Patio – Mar 17, 2022 – 11:20pm — 12:00am
15. Albi X
As an Afro-German of a new generation whose self-image is not based on being a stranger in their own country, but whose identities often cross national borders, ALBI X speaks deeply from the soul of many young people with more complex identities and life realities than “simply German.“ Locating himself on the difficult paths of German everyday life, the artist does not confront the realities experienced every day, such as the manifold facets of racism or classism, with aggression or gangsta attitude.
Albi X at Half Step – Mar 15, 2022 – 8:00pm — 8:40pm
Albi X at Higher Ground – Mar 17, 2022 – 12:00am — 12:40am
16. Los Texmaniacs
Los Texmaniacs is a conjunto band created by Max Baca in 1997. In 2010 Los Texmaniacs won a Grammy Award for Tejano Album of The Year for Borders y Bailes. Members include Max Baca on bajo sexto, Josh Baca on accordion, Noel Hernandez on electric bass, and Lorenzo Martinez on the drums.
Los Texmaniacs at Victorian Room at The Driskill – Mar 18, 2022 – 10:00pm — 10:40pm
17. Pom Poko
“If you have a vacancy for favourite New Band, Pom Poko would like to apply for the role,” tweeted Tim Burgess in April last year, as Norway’s finest punk-pop anti-conformists revisited their joyous debut album, Birthday, for one of Tim’s mood-lifting Twitter listening parties.
Pom Poko at Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside – Mar 16, 2022 – 12:40am — 1:20am
Pom Poko at Mohawk Outdoor – Mar 17, 2022 – 11:00pm — 11:40pm
18. Primo the Alien
Primo the Alien is an Austin-based pop artist creating contemporary electro-pop laced with 80s-inspired nostalgia. A multi-instrumentalist and producer, Primo’s style defies the bounds of traditional genres, serving modern tracks drenched in otherworldly futurism with a retro edge. Using a sharp wit and humor, Primo charms and disarms listeners just before letting loose her signature, powerhouse vocals.
Primo the Alien at Saxon Pub – Mar 16, 2022 – 1:00am — 1:55am
Primo the Alien at Sheraton BackYARD – Mar 18, 2022 – 8:00pm — 8:40pm
19. Student 1
Student 1 embodies an upbeat approach to interrogating the questions of life, fusing oddball braggadocio with meticulous technicality for an engrossing experience that’s equally whip-ready and stare-at-the-ceiling ready. For all the relentless energy in his flexin’, there’s a moment of self-crisis to match it.
Student 1 at Sheraton BackYARD – Mar 17, 2022 – 8:10pm — 8:25pm
20. Cruz Cafuné
Singer, rapper and songwriter from the Canary Islands, Cruz Cafuné burst onto the scene with his collective BNMP (Broke Niños Make Pesos) and put, together with the efforts of other artists from Tenerife, his island on the map. [….] His Canarian cultural background – halfway between Africa, Europe and Latin America -, his relaxed melodies in contrast to the direct lyrics and his revised pop music approach have made him a half crooner-half rapper with an eclectic and interesting body of work.
Cruz Cafuné at Reina + ReyRey – Mar 17, 2022 – 12:00am — 12:40am
21. Georgia Cécile
Gaining major attention for her engaging live performances, she opened as the main support act for Gregory Porter across four sold-out shows at the Royal Albert Hall and toured sold-out shows in 2021 including Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, and Royal Festival Hall with Guy Barker’s BBC Concert Orchestra.
Georgia Cécile at Swan Dive Patio – Mar 17, 2022 – 9:20pm — 10:00pm
Georgia Cécile at Elephant Room – Mar 18, 2022 – 9:30pm — 10:10pm
22. Priya Ragu
Over the short course of a few months, Tamil-Swiss musician Priya Ragu has mobilised a dedicated and highly engaged following, earning attention from Vogue, Rolling Stone India, Radio 1 and 1XTRA to name but a few. While she could be described, widely- speaking, as R&B, Priya’s music isn’t like any R&B you’ve heard before.
Priya Ragu at Augustine – Mar 16, 2022 – 10:00pm — 10:40pm
Priya Ragu at British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard – Mar 18, 2022 – 12:00am — 12:40am