SXSW: 10 Acts To Watch

While Austin will be crawling with
unproven artists looking for an
iota of buzz, these 10 acts head
down to SXSW with proven
performing credentials and
enticing material. From Grimes’
indie-inflected mall pop to Mr.
Muthaf*ckin eXquire’s hip-hop
shenanigans, check out these
when they rock the desert this
SXSW 2012: Main Page
Where Best To See Them at
SXSW: Billboard Showcase, ACL
Live on Wednesday (3/14)
Why: Poliça’s brand of
psychedelic R&B has had blogs
buzzing since the band’s debut
album “Give You the Ghost” hit in
late 2011 (the fact that Bon Iver’s
Justin Vernon proclaimed the
Minneapolis quartet the best
band he’s ever heard provided
instant street cred). The nine
SXSW shows Poliça has booked —
including Wednesday night’s
Billboard showcase where they’ll
open for pop and soul icon Lionel
Richie — will make sure everyone
in Austin has a chance to fall
under their rhythmic spell.
Alabama Shakes
Where Best To See Them at
SXSW: NPR Music Showcase,
Stubb’s on Wednesday (3/14)
Why To See Them: These Athens,
Ala. rockers are defined by their
intense live atmosphere,
spearheaded by frontwoman
Brittany Howard, who combines
the energy of Janis Joplin and the
soul of Aretha Franklin. The group
hit the “Conan” stage in February,
and will release its debut album,
“Boys & Girls,” on April 10
through ATO Records.
Gary Clark Jr.
Where Best To See Him: Warner
Showcase, La Zona Rosa on
Wednesday (3/14)
Why To See Him: Austin locals
are already familiar with the
awesomeness of Gary Clark Jr. The
hometown hero has been
brandishing his potent mix of
rock, soul and blues at local
haunts for years. Since releasing
his first EP in 2010, he’s shared
the stage with guitar greats such
as B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Jeff
Beck, but SXSW 2012 is Clark’s
chance to bypass second billing
and emerge as the great new
voice of rock n’ roll.
Action Bronson
Where Best To See Them: Life or
Death PR Showcase, Lustre Pearl
on Wednesday (3/14)
Why: One of the best decisions
Action Bronson did was trade in
the cooking utensils for the mic.
The ex-chef, whose rap skills have
been compared to Wu-Tang’s
Ghostface Killah, has released four
mixtapes and two albums within
two years and is scheduled to
open up for 50 Cent at the Shady
Records SXSW showcase on
Friday, March 16.
Where Best To See Them:
Conflict Of Interest Showcase,
Hype Hotel on Tuesday (3/13)
Why: Brad Oberhofer — the latest
artist to emerge from the mighty
Glassnote Records imprint — is
still honing his 21-year-old chops.
But after a string of dates
opening for Sleigh Bells, Twin
Sister and Neon Indian, the
Tacoma, Wash. native and his
band of quirky indie-poppers are
ready to take Austin by storm
with their expansive
instrumentation and charming,
unpredictable song structures,
prepping the music world for the
release of their debut album on
March 26.
Kendrick Lamar
Where Best To See Him at
SXSW: XXL Freshmen Issue
showcase, 1100 Warehouse on
Tuesday (3/13)
Why To See Him: From the XXL
Magazine 2011 Freshmen Class
cover to recently signing with Dr.
Dre’s Aftermath, the West Coast
rapper has come a long way
within just a year. If you missed
out on his recent infamous sold
out show at NYC’s SOBs, Kendrick
plans to floor Austin with his
highly-addictive mixtape,
Mr. Muthaf*ckin esquire
Where Best To See Him at
SXSW: Thrasher Magazine
showcase, Scoot Inn on Saturday
Why To See Him: The unhinged
Brooklyn rapper’s 2011 mixtape,
“Lost in Translation,” included
“The Last Huzzah,” which paired
his audacious delivery with MCs
like El-P, Das Racist and Danny
Brown and became one of the
year’s most indelible posse cuts.
With a propensity for bringing a
dozen of his buddies onstage and
not giving a damn if the crowd is
feeling his live show, expect an
unforgettable night when eXquire
rolls into town.
Cloud Nothings
Where Best To See Them at
SXSW: 512 Rooftop on Thursday
Why To See Them: Rock fans
who prefer their indie on the lo-fi
tip need look no further than
Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings. Mixing
gritty punk passion with
infectious pop sensibilities (a la
“Kerplunk!”-era Green Day), the
quartet earned raves for their
third album, 2012’s “Attack on
Memory.” The band’s cred will
continue to swell in Austin, where
they will strut their angsty stuff at
six shows during SXSW.
Where Best To See Her at SXSW:
Pitchfork showcase, Central
Presbyterian Church on Thursday
Why To See Her: With the release
of her third album, “Visions,” on
the 4AD label, Canadian art-pop
songstress Claire Boucher, aka
Grimes, continues the momentum
she’s been feeling for the past
two years. Her SXSW appearance
follows performances with artists
like Lykke Li and Washed Out in
Danny Brown
Where Best To See Him at
SXSW: Fader Fort on Wednesday
Why To See Him: Danny Brown’s
time has been long overdue. The
witty Detroit rapper stepped into
the game in 2007 with his
mixtape “Detroit State of Mind.”
Fast forward to five years later
and Brown is on magazine
covers, has two highly praised
albums under his belt (“The
Hybrid” and “XXX”) and will rock
every other show at this year’s


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