SXSW 2018: Who’s bringing the buzz? Heavy hitters and hot newcomers


Which South by Southwest performers are riding waves of attention and acclaim coming in to Austin? Here’s a look at a dozen acts likely to be among the most-talked-about in the days ahead.

August Greene. We don’t know a whole lot about the new project helmed by rapper/actor/activist Common, jazz heavy Robert Glasper and hip-hop DJ, producer and rapper Karriem Riggins yet. The men collaborated on the Emmy Award-winning song “Letter to the Free,” which was part of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary “13th,” and they have an album that is expected to drop this month. We’re not making guesses about how their National Public Radio showcase will unfold, but last month, they stopped by NPR headquarters to play a sprawling 35-minute Tiny Desk Concert. During the webisode, Common said he thinks of the project as a collective, and they brought out a series of special guests, including R&B singer Brandy, who joined them to perform their first single, a breathtaking cover of the Sounds of Blackness song “Optimistic.” (12:20 a.m. March 14, Stubb’s) — D.S.S.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Rateliff’s star has been rising since the soul-shouter from Denver and his high-energy backing band released their self-titled debut album in 2015. Its success got them on the “Austin City Limits” TV show, and last year they played the Hurricane Harvey benefit show at the Erwin Center, joining the likes of Willie Nelson, Paul Simon and Bonnie Raitt. A new record, “Tearing at the Seams,” is due out on Stax this month. (12:30 a.m. March 13, Gatsby; 8:45 p.m. March 16, SXSW Outdoor Stage) — P.B.

Khalid. Just two years ago he was a “Young, Dumb and Broke” high school kid in El Paso. Then his summery, youth-in-a-bottle vibes and his knack for an instant sing-along hook propelled him from teen sensation into a chart-dominating global superstar. Show up early, because the crowd for this one will be tight. (Midnight March 15, Trinity Warehouse) — D.S.S.

Natalie Prass. A standout singer-songwriter in the fertile Richmond, Va., music scene, Prass toured as a keyboardist with Jenny Lewis before her 2015 self-titled debut earned widespread critical acclaim. Ready to record the follow-up a year and a half ago, she changed directions after the 2016 election, rewriting much of the record to reflect her social values and feminist perspective more strongly. The result, “The Future and the Past,” is due out in June. (9 p.m. March 14, Parish; 8:45 p.m. March 15, Cedar Street Courtyard; 2 p.m. March 16, Convention Center Radio Day Stage) — P.B.

Tank & the Bangas. The NOLA five-piece performs with a warm and wonderful vibe that draws you into a brilliant live show that’s equal parts funky soul get down and theatrical hip-hop happening. It will make you laugh and cry. They won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest last spring, they won our hearts at the Austin City Limits Music Fest in the fall and now they’re poised to win SXSW. (11:20 p.m. March 14, Stubb’s; 8:30 p.m. March 15, the Gatsby; March 16, South by San Jose) — D.S.S.

Courtney Marie Andrews. Just 27, country-folk chanteuse Andrews already has had an impressive career, working with emo band Jimmy Eat World, Seattle indie-folk mainstay Damien Jurado and Belgian singer-songwriter Milow leading up to her 2016 breakthrough “Honest Life.” Fat Possum Records will release her new album, the Mark Howard-produced “May Your Kindness Remain,” the week after SXSW. (8:45 p.m. March 14, Palm Door on Sixth; 2 p.m. March 15, Convention Center Radio Day Stage; 11:50 p.m. March 15, Barracuda Backyard) — P.B.

Bad Gyal. The Spanish sensation who hit viral gold with a cover of Rihanna’s “Work” is having a moment. Less than an hour after we left a meeting where SXSW staffers raved about her charisma and easy swag, the Washington Post crowned her the “future-present of club music” in a review of her D.C. debut. Her crowd in D.C. was relatively small, but by the time she leaves SXSW, we predict her rooms will be packed. (6:15 p.m. March 13, the Main; 11 p.m. March 14, Bungalow) — D.S.S.

Sunflower Bean. Appearances at SXSW 2015 helped this charismatic New York trio get a deal with Fat Possum, which released its 2016 debut “Human Ceremony.” The new track “I Was a Fool,” from the band’s sophomore album “Twentytwo in Blue” due out this month on Mom + Pop Records, suggests a kinship with 1980s pop standouts Dream Academy and Everything But the Girl. (11:35 p.m. March 15, Hotel Vegas Patio; noon March 16, Convention Center Radio Day Stage) — P.B.

Billie Eilish. Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America certified the 16-year-old singer’s debut single “Ocean Eyes” gold after it logged a staggering 363,524,897 streams worldwide. Her debut album, “Don’t Smile at Me” released last year, is a fully realized emotional pop platter. She comes into the festival off five sold out California dates and heads out to 10 more sold out shows on the East Coast. So expect to hear a lot more from this young up-and-comer over the next few months. (11:20 p.m. March 14, Central Presbyterian Church; 12:05 a.m. March 15, Palm Door; 10 p.m. March 16, Lustre Pearl) — D.S.S.

Nikki Lane. Momentum seems to keep building steadily for Nashville indie-country performer Lane, who got a big boost when the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach signed on to produce her second album, 2014’s “All or Nothin’.” Last year’s “Highway Queen” upped the ante, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. (10:30 p.m. March 13, Gatsby; 3 p.m. March 16, Convention Center Radio Day Stage)

Bully. In the current crop of garage rockers, the dudes can’t wave a grungey guitar at the ladies. Bully’s Alicia Bognanno is part of the current wave of post-riot-grrl rockers making thoughtful confessional songs backed by muscular riffs. (8:30 p.m. March 12, Mohawk outdoor; 9 p.m. March 15, Scoot Inn) — D.S.S.

Texas Gentlemen. With a sweeping perspective on American music and multiple songwriters and singers (including one whose voice is a dead ringer for a young Willie Nelson), this Dallas-based band has been raising eyebrows around the state for the past year or so, partly via their turns backing artists such as Jonathan Tyler and Paul Cauthen. Last fall, New West Records released their debut album, “Jelly.” (1 a.m. March 16, Antone’s) — P.B.

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