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SXSW picks: Top music choices from our team


So much music! It started well before official South by Southwest showcases, during the first weekend of the SXSW Conference. The official music festival and its showcases really kick into gear — or go to 11 — Tuesday. Here are some top picks from our Austin360 team.

DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH

TUESDAY

7 p.m. Noname (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop): The Chicago rapper who’s graced Chance’s tracks unleashed an understated, R&B/rap flow dripping with barely contained emotion on her debut mixtape, “Telefone,” one of the best hip-hop releases of 2016.

8:30 p.m. Temples (The Gatsby): The British psych specialists blast into the fest with “Volcano,” a soaring new platter that explodes with buoyant pop melodies.

9 p.m. Francis and the Lights (Levi’s Outpost): The Bon Iver, Chance the Rapper and Kanye West collaborator smoothly drifts from electro-grinder pop to haunted forest R&B on his latest, “Farewell, Starlite,” but it’s his take on “Dear Theodosia” on “The Hamilton Mixtape” that sold us.

10 p.m. Anna Wise (Empire Control Room): The frequent Kendrick Lamar collaborator is as comfortable belting out punchy dance music as she is spinning airy loops that drift over ethereal downtempo grooves.

11:30 p.m. Thievery Corporation (ACL Live): After a detour into dreamy Brazilian sounds on their last release, the DC collective brings back their fiery blend of hip-hop, dancehall and electronica to chant down Babylon on new album “The Temple of I & I.”

12:45 p.m. Wu-Tang Clan (ACL Live): OK, here’s the deal. Wu-Tang Clan is still nothing to (expletive) with, but these days, they’re also not a sure shot. You never know which Wus will show, but if you’re already here, give it a go. It might be epic.

WEDNESDAY

8:30 p.m. Tei Shi (Empire): Her velvety voice cascades over swirly electronics that ebb and flow, often occupying a vaguely menacing, “Twin Peaks”-esque dreamscape.

8:45 p.m. Eric Biddines (Monster Outbreak Energy House): The Palm Beach rapper brings those syrupy Southern rhymes we’ve been missing since Outkast hung it up. Stick around for Deniro Farrar at 9:25.

10 p.m. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (Half Step): With rock solid grooves and swagger for days, this Japanese 10-piece churns out delirious Latin/ska mashups.

10:20 p.m. Lizzo (Stubb’s): One of the best live performers at the fest, the goddess-channeling Minneapolis rapper will make you feel “Good as Hell.”

11 p.m. Solange (Coppertank): “A Seat at the Table” with a magnificent meditation on the indignities of racism, an ode to healing and self-care that arrived at exactly the right moment in history.

12:40 They. (Ibiza): The L.A. duo’s rock-fueled R&B fever dreams fill the space between Toronto’s gloomy R&B kingpin and West Coast funk.

1 a.m. Danny Brown (Empire Garage): “Atrocity Exhibition” is a psycho-funk, head trip of a hip-hop album that sounds like nothing else.

THURSDAY

7:20 p.m. Ozomatli (Auditorium Shores): The perfect choice for a “music of resistance” showcase, the L.A. collective, who were once arrested (and quickly acquitted) for taking the party to streets during SXSW, have been raging against injustice with their electrifying mix of hip-hop rock and Latin sounds for over 20 years.

8:30 p.m. Tkay Maidza (the Gatsby): Propelled by a rapid, rhythmic flow and a knack for catchy hooks that work well over everything from skittering electronic beats to breezy pop and futuristic R&B, the Zimbabwe-born, Australia-based artist is making waves around the world.

9:30 p.m. Nick Hakim (Cedar Street): A wistful crooner who releases his heart-on-sleeve melodies over sparse, reverb-laced grooves.

10:30 p.m. Chicano Batman (Cedar St. Courtyard): Their latest, “Freedom Is Free,” is a glorious psych soul outcry.

11:30 p.m. Bas (Trinity Hall at Old School): We are obligated to tell you that this showcase features most of J.Cole’s Dreamville Records roster with no one in the headline spot.

Midnight. Pwr Bttm (Cheer Up Charlie’s): Glittery, gender-bending pop punk? Yes please.

1:05 a.m. Jamila Woods (Barracuda Backyard): The “Black Girl Soldier” is an acclaimed Chicago artist whose soulful sounds soundtrack the new web series “Brown Girls.”

FRIDAY

7 p.m. Riders Against the Storm (Auditorium Shores): The beating heart of Austin hip-hop, the husband/wife team spins magic every time they hit the stage.

8:40 p.m. Mamak Khadem Ensemble (Palm Door): The entire ContraBanned: #MusicUnites showcase, featuring artists from countries affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban, is worth checking out, but make sure to show up early enough to catch this Iranian singer’s enchanting trance music.

9 p.m. Tribute to a Friend Celebrating Prince (Auditorium Shores): Rapper Wyclef Jean and original members of Prince’s band, the Revolution, pay tribute to the Minneapolis icon. If we’re lucky one of the special guests will be Lizzo, who destroyed a cover of the “Beautiful Ones” at his hometown memorial the day he died.

10 p.m. Benjamin Booker (Banger’s): Gritty, gutbucket blues delivered with anarchic punk energy.

10:45 p.m. Migos (Coppertank): The, ahem, ladies are “Bad and Boujee,” the dudes are “savage ruthless” and the Atlanta trio’s album “Culture” is one of the best hip-hop joints of the year so far.

11 p.m. Sammus (Cheer Up Charlie’s inside): The Ph.D. scholar/rapper nerdy girls have been waiting for.

Midnight. D.R.A.M. (Banger’s): Unencumbered by any notion of what a rapper or R&B singer should be, D.R.A.M. takes a freewheeling approach, driven by passion and sheer joy. His superpower is making music fun again.

1 a.m. Naomi Achu (Russian House): The Cameroonian artist drops a fierce, club bumping mix of hip-hop, pop and Afro-house. Pro-tip: Show up early to catch powerful hip-hop priestesses Oshun, who play at midnight.

SATURDAY

8 p.m. Stella (Half Step): Carlos Santana’s daughter makes sultry R&B surrounded by a smoky haze.

9 p.m. The Roots & Friends Jam (800 Congress Ave.): As we go to press, there are no set times, but if it’s anything like last year’s event, if you’re not already in line to see Jidenna, Meth & Red, Shakey Graves and their homies jam with the roots by now, you’re out of luck.

10 p.m. Little Sims (Mohawk outdoor): A British Grime spitta with a wicked quick fire flow.

11 p.m. Radio Caliente (Flamingo Cantina): Hip-hop, cumbia and electro sounds from Colombia.

12:20 a.m. Lil Yachty (Mohawk outdoor): He calls his sound “bubblegum trap,” and it might just be the next big thing.

12:50 a.m. Mike Will Made It. (Mohawk outdoor): The dude behind pretty much everyone from 2 Chainz to Beyoncé closing out the fest? Yeah, there will be special guests

PETER BLACKSTOCK

TUESDAY

7 p.m. Lemon Twigs and Noname (Maggie Mae’s and Maggie Mae’s Rooftop): The official SXSW Music Opening Party pits two of this year’s biggest buzz bands on the lower and upper levels of Dirty Sixth’s old standby bar.

8 p.m. Jeff Plankenhorn (Cooper’s BBQ): Multi-instrumentalist right-hand man to Joe Ely, Plankenhorn also has the songs and the voice to shine on his own.

9 p.m. My Education (Maggie Mae’s Rooftop): The local instrumental band’s new album, “Schiphol,” impressed us enough to make them our Austin360 Artist of the Month for March.

10 p.m. Let’s Eat Grandma (Latitude 30): We’re more curious about the English teen pop duo than already won over, but they may have the best band name at this year’s fest.

11 p.m. Yael Meyer (Friends): A heavy emphasis on beats and sweetly cool vocals mark the mainstream pop songcraft of this rising star from Santiago, Chile.

Midnight. “Special Guest” (The Main): This is the first night of Spoon’s three-night takeover of the old Emo’s spot, and you know they’ve got some aces up their sleeve. Whoever this is, it’s likely to be worth it.

1 a.m. Wagoneers (Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room): Away from their SoCo home base, Monte Warden’s old-school Austin country outfit should be a kick to hear in the middle of the SXSW maelstrom.

WEDNESDAY

7:30 p.m. Curved Light (St. David’s Bethel Hall): Electronica duos are on the rise in Austin with the successes of Survive and Missio. Could Deirdre Smith and Peter Tran’s outfit be next?

8 p.m. Mastersons (Parish). Now that they’ve moved from Austin to Los Angeles, grabbing the chance to see ace Americana duo Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore is a priority.

9:20 p.m. Kasey Chambers (Cooper’s BBQ): No, Ed Sheeran (who sings a duet with Chambers on her new album) won’t be there. But the Australian singer-songwriter is a first-rate talent all on her own.

10:30 p.m. Minus the Bear (Lustre Pearl): The Seattle indie band has been one of the best representatives of that city’s poppier post-grunge sound for more than a decade.

11 p.m. Avett Brothers (ACL Live): The pairing of top-flight indie-Americana band with world-class music venue makes this one a no-brainer, if you can get in.

Midnight. Ben Sollee (Palm Door on Sabine): Perhaps no musician since Yo-Yo Ma has done more for bringing the cello into the landscape of American popular music.

12:45 a.m. Sad13 (Sidewinder Inside): If you liked her in Speedy Ortiz, you’ll want to check out adventurous indie-pop songwriter Sadie Dupuis’ new solo project.

1 a.m. Nicole Atkins (Parish): The big-voiced pop singer who’s appealed largely to indie audiences turns more toward soul sounds on her new album recorded in Fort Worth with Leon Bridges’ producers.

THURSDAY

7:20 p.m. Ozomatli (Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake): Join in SXSW’s “All Latino Resist Concert” with this eclectic activist outfit that has a long history with the festival.

8 p.m. Danny Malone (Victorian Room at the Driskill): The promising Austin pop singer-songwriter is now working in a duo format with Danish bassist Kenni Malone Hede.

9:30 p.m. All Our Exes Live in Texas (Cooper’s BBQ): Hailing from Australia, this all-women quartet brings jazzy accents into its acoustic folk sound, with vocal harmonies at the fore.

10 p.m. Agnes Obel (Clive Bar): The Danish singer-songwriter casts spells with her atmospheric songs with spacious, tasteful arrangements that emphasize her ethereal vocals.

10:45 p.m. Western Star (Saxon Pub): The Baltimore-by-way-of-East-Texas outfit serves up chunky, twangy roots-rock on its debut album produced by Old 97’s guitarist Ken Bethea.

11:30 p.m. Hanson (Bungalow): Never mind “MMMBop.” The brothers from Tulsa have been a solid rock-pop band for a long time now as grown-ups, with songs that transcend the nostalgia.

12:15 a.m. Future Islands (Gatsby): The 2014 SXSW Grulke Prize winners return with a new album imminent. What would the fest be without singer Sam Herring’s trademark bobs and weaves?

1 a.m.: Spoon (The Main): We’re thinking the final show of the hometown heroes’ three-night run to mark the release of their new album, “Hot Thoughts,” will be the most celebratory.

FRIDAY

7:45 p.m. Parker Millsap (Central Presbyterian Church): Fresh off last fall’s taping of the “Austin City Limits” TV show, the 23-year-old Oklahoman is one of the hottest rising stars in Americana music.

8 p.m. Swimming With Bears (Hotel Vegas Annex): Performing alongside better-known locals, this young rock-pop outfit emerged as a surprise star of last December’s Black Fret year-end Paramount gala.

8:40 p.m. Skylar Gudasz (Central Presbyterian Church): In 2012 I heard her light up a small crowd at a North Carolina wine bar. In 2017 she’s toured the world with Big Star’s Third and released one of last year’s best albums. Come hear why.

9:35 p.m. Robyn Hitchcock (Central Presbyterian Church): It doesn’t matter what style of music Hitchcock is exploring at any given time, or who he’s playing with: He’s the kind of rare natural talent who’s always worth hearing.

10 p.m. Sara Watkins (Cooper’s BBQ): From teen fiddle prodigy with Nickel Creek to confident and compelling solo artist, Watkins has grown into one of Americana music’s exemplary artists.

10:35 p.m.: Big Star’s Third (Central Presbyterian Church): Producer and ringleader Chris Stamey’s tribute to iconic 1970s band Big Star includes the band’s drummer Jody Stephens plus Mike Mills of R.E.M., Ken Stringfellow of the Posies, Austin’s Tosca Strings and more.

12:15 a.m. Diet Cig (Sidewinder Outside): After a banner SXSW last year, the upstate New York duo is back with its effervescent punk-pop and a new record coming next month.

1 a.m. Aaron Lee Tasjan (Cooper’s BBQ): The Nashville roots-rocker put in plenty of dues with other bands on the way up, but now he’s breaking out with his New West Records solo album, “Silver Tears.”

SATURDAY

8 p.m. South Austin Moonlighters (Saxon Pub): Veterans of many Austin bands teamed up a few years ago in this local ensemble of ace players that churns out solid, broad-ranging roots rock.

9 p.m. Heart Collectors (Driskill Victorian Room): This Australian acoustic ensemble featuring cello, mandolin and guitar has spent quite a bit of time in Central Texas, recording its last two albums here.

10 p.m. Lilly Hiatt (Lamberts): The Nashville singer-songwriter had a good role model in dad John Hiatt, but not surprisingly she aims for something more contemporary and indie in her own work.

11 p.m. Bonnie Whitmore (Driskill Victorian Room): One of Austin’s best singer-songwriters and MVP bass players is coming off a new record that’s her finest to date.

Midnight. Legendary Ils Sont Partis Band (Antone’s): It’s a Louisiana bash on the final night of SXSW at Antone’s, headlined by this versatile cast keeping the legacy of their late leader Buckwheat Zydeco alive.

1 a.m. Raul Midon (Stephen F’s Bar): Close out the fest on a quieter note with the eclectic and soulful acoustic-based sounds of this accomplished singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose new album “Bad Ass and Blind” comes out next week.

ERIC WEBB

TUESDAY

8 p.m. Quiet Company (Cheer Up Charlie’s): It ain’t Austin until you’ve seen a show by this thoughtful indie rock group. Hearts will be on sleeves.

9 p.m. Miss Lavelle White (Cooper’s BBQ): She’s 87, she’s a Texas blues legend, and she will sing you to your feet and then under the table.

9:30 p.m. Francis and the Lights (Levi’s Outpost): Chance the Rapper collaborators whose heartfelt cool will help you feel a little closer to Lil’ Chano.

10 p.m. Jess Williamson (Cheer Up Charlie’s): Austin’s own, a Sharon Van Etten-esque voice of heartache.

11 p.m. Moving Panoramas (Cheer Up Charlie’s): Narcotic, beachy chillwave rock with a hometown band.

11:30 p.m. Lisa Prank (Sidewinder inside): The title of Robin Edwards’ 2016 alt-rock album, “Adult Teen,” says it all.

12:15 a.m. Modern English (Barracuda backyard): Stop the world; melt into nostalgia.

12:45 a.m. Teen Daze (Cheer Up Charlie’s): Does for the elevator music genre what Warhol did for soup cans. (Not exactly, but you get the point, hopefully.)

WEDNESDAY

7:30 p.m. PWR BTTM (Stubb’s): Since their 2016 SXSW appearance, these sharp-witted glam rock gods have had a renaissance. With album No. 2 on the way, a queer political conscience and a besotted fan base, this will be the year they break big.

8:20 p.m. Hurray for the Riff Raff (Stubb’s): Alynda Segarra found a way to retrofit Americana for the rock club instead of the Cracker Barrel.

9 p.m. Birthday (CU29): Catch a little this mature-beyond-his-years artist’s soulful electronic intimacies with small-scale charm.

9:20 p.m. Sylvan Esso (Stubb’s): Based on singles “Radio” and “Kick Jump Twist,” don’t look for any shift to warm synth swells from the trip hop duo — we’re getting crispy circuit board bops aplenty.

10 p.m. Jimmy Eat World (Bungalow): So much more than “The Middle.” There’s “Sweetness,” too. Also at The Gatsby at 12:30 a.m., if you’d rather.

10 p.m. Japanese Breakfast (Mazda Studio at Empire Garage): But if “Bleed American” isn’t your mosh pit destiny, this Philly act truly is “sky-sized dream-pop,” as her bio suggests.

11 p.m. Solange (YouTube at Coppertank): Come for the singer of “The Proud Family” theme song, stay for one of the most vital singers of the moment, whose “A Seat at the Table” was one of 2016’s very best. Cranes in the sky, dreams coming true.

12:20 The New Pornographers (Stubb’s): No one does power pop like A.C. Newman, Neko Case and the gang. There’s a new album on the way, but hope for some “Brill Bruisers” highlights.

1 a.m. Eisley (Central Presbyterian Church): For your annual church show, let these emo family band darlings sweep you into a rock swoon.

THURSDAY

8 p.m. Tim Kinsella (Cheer Up Charlie’s): This showcase brought to you by sentimental devotion to emo music but a willingness to embrace musical idiosyncrasy.

10 p.m. Betty Who (Bar 96): This Aussie should have Katy Perry’s career. Start with the viral hit “Somebody Loves You” and work your way into her dancier singles of late.

11 p.m. Supermoon (Tellers upstairs): The jangly guitars and swaying vocals of all your favorite college radio indie, but with a tendency to veer into smatterings of post-punk drama and post-rock splendor.

11:30 p.m. Hanson (Bungalow): Like you had a better way to spend your evening. Please.

11:55 p.m. Survive (Hotel Vegas patio): The “Stranger Things” soundsmiths are certainly local boys made good, but their sinister synth spooks stand up on their own.

Midnight. PWR BTTM (Cheer Up Charlie’s): True, the queer punk phenoms are playing at the same time as Survive, but I just want to make sure everyone gets a chance to see the glitter-caked future of rock.

Midnight. Third Eye Blind (The Belmont): But! If you already got enough glam, go see the 1990s rock statesmen and scream lyrics about crystal meth.

1 a.m. Sad13 (The Main II): Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis keeps her 1990s MTV eyeroll-rock sensibilities for a riot grrl pop solo outing.

1:15 a.m. No Joy (Cheer Up Charlie’s inside): A Canadian shoegaze band that swirls crackling speaker blowouts with barely lucid dreaminess.

FRIDAY

7:30 p.m. Flor (Bungalow): Sweet synth-pop for a MySpace generation that’s a got a little more taste nowadays.

8:15 Pizza Time (Hotel Vegas annex): Gotta slot in one Burger Records show.

9:30 p.m. Lil Yachty (YouTube at Coppertank): Look up the videos for “Broccoli” and the “It Takes Two” cover/Target commercial with Carly Rae Jepsen and know joy.

11 p.m. The Japanese House (Latitude 30): London-based Amber Bain takes the best whirligig impulses of Imogen Heap and refines them to Swiss clockwork. Gorgeously intricate and lyrically penetrating, sonically shy. That’s one option …

11 p.m. Neko Case (Clive Bar): … another option is to go see Neko Case, because she is Neko Case.

12:15 a.m. Diet Cig (Sidewinder outside): One of my favorite up-and-coming bands. I’ll let the lyrics to “Harvard” speak: “You never wanted to date a college girl/Well, I hope you got something out of that deal/Or made your parents proud/I bet she’s not as loud.”

1:15 a.m. Joan of Arc (Sidewinder outside): One of emo stalwart Tim Kinsella’s stalwart projects, of the American Football/Cap’n Jazz/Owls universe.

1 a.m. Future Islands (Mohawk outdoor): Samuel T. Herring looks like Marlon Brando, sings like a lion eating David Bowie and once jumped straight into the air and bent his spine into a C-shape when I saw him at ACL Live.

SATURDAY

11 p.m. Tameca Jones (Continental Club): A singular voice for a singular venue.

1 a.m. Har Mar Superstar (Cheer Up Charlie’s): As good a way as any to end SXSW 2017 — with a pseudo-comedy show that’s sneaks in some powerful R&B chops.



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