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Although South by Southwest has become renowned as a multi-media event with the expansion of its Interactive and Film portions, the heart of it is still the music. After all, this is
Austin, Texas we're talking about here. There are so many great acts playing throughout the city the week of March 12th to the 17th that it's nearly impossible to catch everyone worth seeing. You'll drive yourself mad just trying to decide which one of a handful of shows to attend at any given moment, let alone trying to hit every artist on your list.
If you're going this year, the best advice we can give you is to resign yourself to the fact that you'll miss out on a lot of cool stuff. That said, there are some acts that are invariably going to stand out above others.
We've compiled a list of 25 acts worth going out of your way to see. The list includes sensitive singer-songwriters, shoegazing indie rock upstarts, established hip-hop artists, rock icons, and everything in-between. Check out the list below and have fun in Austin!
If you'd like a sampling of these artists, we've compiled a playlist on Spotify featuring all the artists in this article: Spike.com's SXSW 2013 Playlist
Even before he released an entire album of hip-hop songs based on the X-Men (available for a free download online
), his raps were littered with references to Marvel comics and various other related dork stuff. His enthusiasm is genuine and unashamed, but he produces something beyond novelty with his work. Definitely worth checking out.
An alternative rock band coming out of London, Bastille just put out their debut LP and have been tapped by many outlets as the act to watch coming out of SXSW.
A hot new act coming out of the West Coast's dense punk scene.
After departing Ozomatli and the official split of Jurassic 5 six years ago, the bass-voiced emcee still brings the same sensibilities from those former groups to his solo performances.
The power pop ensemble from Perth, Australia is in their twenty-third year and still going strong.
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The Crystal Method
Take a nostalgia trip (like I do?) to the 90s with this legendary electronic act.
The shoegazing Brooklyn act broke out last year with last year's "Oshin," which ended up on a lot of critics' year-end lists.
Eagles of Death Metal
No word on a new album yet, but Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age will have a presence and perform at the festival.
Mr. Muthaf***in' eXquire
The provocatively named New York underground rapper has been making waves due to his eccentric rhymes and material, but don't get it twisted: this guy is anything but a novelty act. We say this as people who are always skeptical of acts that seem to get a lot of coverage simply because some sites love being able to get away with putting the act's name in print.
One of Britain's best hardcore punk outfits. Their self-titled LP was one of the highlights of the last year.
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Iggy & the Stooges
After over forty years, the Grandfather of Punk is still going strong and committing the same mayhem and chaos onstage that makes him the live act by which all others are measured.
The sometimes novelist is, perhaps not surprisingly, one of the most eloquent lyricists on the scene. It also helps that he writes a beautiful tune.
The Joy Formidable
Alternative but poppy, their latest release is a pure delight.
The most critically adored rapper since Jay-Z, and possibly the next Dre (also from Compton and whose Aftermath Records published Lamar's breakout LP).
King Tuff mixes punk, glam, and garage rock into a delightful salad. Okay, that analogy's lame, but trust us, his live show isn't.
An unashamedly laid-back slacker whose arrangements are both gorgeous and haunting.
Murder by Death
A gothic alt-country band named after the 1976 spoof of Agatha Christie mysteries, although they're anything but light.
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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The heir apparent to Johnny Cash just seems to keep getting better with age and remains fresh with each release, just like his predecessor.
The noise-punk outfit from Allentown will likely be one of the loudest you'll hear in Austin.
An electronic dance duo that describes themselves as "daytime disco."
Probably best known for his score on the "Grizzly Man" soundtrack, the soulful British singer-songwriter harkens back to the old bluesmen of the Great Depression and is worth going out of your way to see.
Tegan and Sara
The twins' latest, "Heartthrob," is their catchiest and most accessible album to date.
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Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Indie darlings Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase are back. Their next release, "Mosquito," will be their first in four years. You'll likely hear a lot of it in Austin.
Youth Lagoon is the stage name of Boise native Trevor Powers. His lo-fi psychedelic rock has been making waves in the last few years, and he's become one of the most talked-about new-ish acts in this year's lineup.
It's hard to believe this hip-hop duo has been going for over twenty years. Their production continues to be innovative, challenging, fascinating, but above all a lot of fun.
Is there anyone in particular not on this list that you're excited to see? Let us know in the comments.