For seven days in the middle of March, Austin becomes the epicenter of the music world. Over 2,000 artists will play official SXSW Music showcases this year. And that doesn’t count those playing unofficial shows, parties, festivals or busking on Sixth Street. Thousands of musical dreamers road-trip to our city with nothing but a song and the desire to get it out to the masses.
But of the 2,000 officially invited artists, 244 are our hometown heroes. From DJs to punk rock, electro-pop to indie, ATX is well represented at this year’s festival. And I listened to every single band to bring you my Top 15 list of Austin bands playing SXSW 2017. Enjoy the list, enjoy SX and–most importantly–enjoy local live music.
Before we dive in, a few notes:
- Every year, I make a point of picking a new crop of artists I’ve never featured in an Austinot article. Many of last year’s picks are playing official and unofficial showcases this year. Check out my SXSW 2016 list and my ACL 2016 Preview to check out those Austin artists.
- Concerned about that 1 a.m. start time? Many of the bands on this list are playing multiple shows. Check out their social media accounts and websites for more information.
- This list is in alphabetical order, not best to worst.
- We’ve created a Spotify playlist and Freqsho video playlist of our picks for your listening/watching enjoyment.
1/ Adam Torres
There are few things more magical than when a song takes you somewhere. When I first heard Adam Torres’ sweet, sensational “Juniper Arms,” a serene memory of an early dawn sunrise illuminating frozen New York streets popped into my brain. Channeling Fleet Foxes with a touch more sensitivity, this local artist’s carefully crafted dream folk manages to paint extraordinary pictures with the simplest of tunes.
Recommended Tracks: “Juniper Arms,” “Morning Rain”
Official Showcase: March 17, 2017 @ 8 p.m., Lamberts (401 W. 2nd St.)
2/ Alex Napping
There’s a fine line between coy and cutesy. Veer too far into one lane and you become pretentious; veer too far into the other, and you become annoyingly saccharine. Alex Napping’s wry, clever and tightly wound indie rock hits that beautiful middle ground. Lead guitarist and singer Alex Cohen’s sweet, expressive vocals dance with varied indie rock arrangements, creating a sound that’s as surprising as it is catchy. Plus the video for “Catcalls” has singing felines. Rad.