20 Can’t Miss SXSW 2018 Artists

BULLY (Nashville, garage rock)

I’ve been quick to describe Alicia Bognanno as sounding like if Sheryl Crow became a grunge rocker and had a Cobain-esque scream in her bag of tricks. Bognanno’s extremely raw and relatable brand of songwriting is refreshing as hell and the band struck gold with their sophomore album Losing from last year. Their show at the Teragram Ballroom last month was as good as I’ve ever seen them and I think they’ll turn a lot of heads at their numerous SXSW shows. I always wonder how the hell Bognanno’s voice holds up over lengthy touring, because she really gets gravelly with her screams — but she’s got it all figured out.

SXSW Shows:
Mon. Mar. 12 
at The Onion & AV Club Presents: Just Another Manic Monday at 8:30 PM (RSVP) // Wed. Mar. 14 at KUTX at Four Seasons at 9 AM (OFFICIAL), at COLLiDE at Container Bar at 5 PM (RSVP) // Thu. Mar. 15 at Brooklyn Vegan Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion at 9 PM (OFFICIAL SXSW)

KIM PETRAS (Germany/Los Angeles, pop)

I’m just going to go out and proclaim that Petras’ song “Heart to Break” is THE pop banger of 2018 and it’s only March. The track takes that Charli XCX alt-pop sound and takes it another step further in the best way. It features a super minimalist beat that puts Petras’ voice at the forefront with its catchy-as-fuck chorus that is sure to be the anthem girls get ready to go out for a night on the town to. She hasn’t played that many shows so it will be extremely interesting to see how she adapts to the wild circus that is SXSW. This may explain the move her team mate to schedule her for just one showcase — it’s a lot less pressure.

SXSW Shows:
Thu. Mar. 15 at WFNM/Peppermint Club showcase at Palm Door on Sixth at 10:10 PM (OFFICIAL)

SOCCER MOMMY (Nashville, rock)

If Reality Bites was a movie being made in 2018, Soccer Mommy would undoubtedly be on the soundtrack. Her sound fits right in with that Gen-X not-quite-grunge sound that was ever present at the time. Sophie Allison is Soccer Mommy and her raw songwriting suggests maturity well beyond her 20 years of age. She has a deep, almost conversational vocal style that reminds me a bit of a female David Bazan, with the emotion and imagery creation of Saves The Day to match. Her debut studio record Clean dropped at the beginning of this month and it’s chock full of relatable emo jams that kids will be listening to while lying on their bed for years to come.

SXSW Shows:
Wed. Mar. 14 at COLLiDE at Container Bar at 2 PM (RSVP) // Thu. Mar. 15 at After the Gold Rush at The Sidewinder at 3 PM (RSVP), at FADER Fort at 6 PM // Fri. Mar. 16 at BrooklynVegan day party at Cheer Up Charlie’s at 12 PM (RSVP), at Urban Outfitters Space 24 Twenty at 4 PM (no RSVP needed) // Fri. Mar. 16 at AdHoc at Cheer Up Charlie’s at 9:30 PM (OFFICIAL) // Sat. Mar. 17 at Hotel San Jose at 3 PM


This band completely caught me off guard with their self-titled record to kick off March and I’ve been excited to see them for a while now. This UK collective gives me no idea what to expect from them as far as a live show and that kind of excitement is always fun. The band is fronted by 17-year-old Orono Noguchi, and this band has a Vampire Weekend vibe to them. They’re one of the most talked-about bands at SXSW this year with a debut record just released and a lot of mystery to them.

SXSW Shows:
Wed. Mar. 14 at Stubb’s at 8:20 PM (OFFICIAL) // Thu. Mar. 15 at The Mohawk // Fri. Mar. 16 at Heathers Pitchfork Party at Barracuda at 4:20 PM (RSVP) // Sat. Mar. 17 at British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 at 8 PM (OFFICIAL)

FREEDOM FRY (Los Angeles, rock)

I first saw Freedom Fry a few years back at School Night, a weekly free showcase that has boasted the first LA shows for bands such as alt-J, Wolf Alice, and numerous others who have gone on to big things. Freedom Fry has managed to maintain to write catchy tune after catchy tune but hasn’t fully broken through to being a household name yet. One of their latest jams “Strange Attraction” seems destined to find its way into the Netflix series LOVE (which always has an awesome soundtrack) and other television. They’ve became well known in LA circles and even brought out Smashing Pumpkins member James Iha for a residency gig out here, as well as Mayer Hawthorne.

SXSW Shows:
Thu. Mar. 15 at Palm Door on Sabine at 11:05 PM (OFFICIAL) // Fri. Mar. 16 at Sound Dessert Showcase at Icenhauer’s on Rainey at 3 PM

MT. JOY (Los Angeles, folk rock)

This Philly-bred, Los Angeles-based band’s debut album that dropped this month has so many stomp-and-clap bangers I have no doubts they’re destined for the kind of success sustained by fellow indie folk acts like The Lumineers, The Head and The Heart and Lord Huron have sustained. This band gives me Head and the Heart vibes, but their singer Matt Quinn has a voice more in line with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett, which makes for an interesting and enjoyable combination.

SXSW Shows:
Tue. Mar. 13 at Pandora at The Gatsby at 2 PM (RSVP) // Wed. Mar. 14 at Pledghouse at The Blackheart at 2:30 PM (RSVP), at Stubb’s at 8 PM (OFFICIAL) // Thu. Mar. 15 at Radio Day Stage Austin Convention Center at 1 PM (OFFICIAL), at StubHub at Banger’s at 6 PM (RSVP) // Fri. Mar. 16 at Hotel San Jose at time TBD (no RSVP needed)

PEARL CHARLES (Los Angeles, folk rock)

Pearl Charles has a bit of the folksier side of Jenny Lewis to her sound and a very ’70s rock and roll vibe a la Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, and The Eagles as well. She can go to the higher register seemingly with ease and her new album Sleepless Dreamer is a gem from start to finish. She stunned the crowd at her hometown album release show earlier this year and is likely to do the same at her various SXSW gigs.

SXSW Shows:
Wed. Mar. 14 at Hotel Vegas at 11:45 PM (OFFICIAL) // Thu. Mar. 15 at Girls to the Front at Paper + Craft Pantry at 3 PM (RSVP) // Fri. Mar. 16 at Music for Listeners at Lazarus Brewing Co. at 1 PM (RSVP)

NIGHT MOVES (Minnesota, rock)

This was a very recent discovery, but Night Moves has moved to near the top of my list of way too many bands with the word “night” in their band name. I’ve been listening to their 2016 record Penned Days almost constantly the last week or so. “Carl Sagan” is the catchiest of the bunch but the record is a fun listen from start to finish. A lot of the showcases they’re playing are of the smaller variety, and should be easy to get into without waiting in long lines.

SXSW Shows:
Wed. Mar. 14 at Hole In The Wall at 12:35 PM, Shiner’s Saloon at 3 PM (RSVP), and The Mohawk at 9 PM (OFFICIAL) // Thu. Mar. 15 at Luck Reunion

BRONCHO (Oklahoma, rock)

I remember having a hard time keeping from smiling as BRONCHO frontman Ryan Lindsey kept lifting his hand up in the air (as seen above) while singing and waving it awkwardly. I could barely understand what he was singing but it didn’t matter — the tunes were so uptempo and fun and weird and chill that I just fell in love with them. The song “Class Historian” gets stuck in your head instantly and if you give the rest of their catalog a listen, you’ll find that most of it will do the same.

SXSW Shows:
Mon. Mar. 12 at Strange Brew VII at Hotel Vegas at 1 AM (RSVP) // Tue. Mar. 13 at Spider House Outdoors at time TBD // Wed. Mar. 14 at Parish at 12 AM (OFFICIAL) // Thu. Mar. 15 at Bungalow at 1 AM (OFFICIAL) // Fri. Mar. 16 at BrooklynVegan day party at Cheer Up Charlie’s at time TBD, at Party In My Pants at Little Woodrow’s at 6 PM (RSVP) // Sat. Mar. 17 at Clive Bar at 10 PM (OFFICIAL), at The Octopus Project & Friends at The Mohawk at time TBD

CLARA-NOVA (Los Angeles, synthpop)

If you’re like me and the breakup of synthpop duo Chairlift left you in tatters, CLARA-NOVA is here to help you pick up the pieces. She came across my Spotify Discover Weekly with the song “The Illusionist” and my friend Danielle Gornbein — who often takes photos and writes for Pass The Aux  — saw her at the Resident DTLA around the same time. Wayser sounds so much like Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek on “The Illusionist” in the best way and delivered a sweet set at the Moroccan Lounge earlier this week.

SXSW Shows:
Thurs, Mar. 15 at Palm Door on Sabine at 7:45 PM (OFFICIAL) // Sat. Mar. 17 at KUTX Luve at Four Seasons at 9 AM

Head over to our SXSW 2018 list of shows and addresses and RSVPs to find more artists up your alley!


SXSW 2018 Parties