By Loren Diblasi, Samantha Smerconish, and Maria Gotay
Bushwick Daily is heading to South By South West! Surprise, surprise. Armed with cameras, iPhones, ear plugs, and some boots made for walking, we’re going to divide and conquer Austin, letting our Bushwick freak flags fly. To expedite the best offerings of unofficial SXSW, we’ve put together 10 bands we think are going to blow up (get big, not combust) at this 2014’s best indie festival, along with where to see them for free and without a badge.
#1 Wolf Alice
From: London, UK
Breakout Release: Single “Bros” from 2013 EP, Blush
Why They’ll Break Big: The blend of atmospheric grunge pop, punk riffs and hushed harmonies could be the beautiful lovechild of The xx, London Grammar and Hole.
Catch them at: Crack In The Road Showcase @ Hype Hotel (FRI 3/14, 3 pm)
From: Los Angeles, California
Breakout Release: 2014’s thrashing Badillac LP
Why They’ll Break Big: In these sub-zero temperatures (srsly, mother nature?), it’s easy to forget that summer is essentially right around the corner. In the southern USA, however, among the best bands ready to jog our frost-bitten summer memories is together PANGEA, who seamlessly blend retro pop melodies with breezy garage rock vibes, the occasional thrash guitarline and punk vocals.
Catch Them At: Echo & Echoplex SXSW Throwdown @ Red Seven (WED 3/12, 5:10 pm) ; Juxtapoz and Brixton present Sight & Sound @ Yellow Jacket Social Club (THURS 3/13, 9:15 pm) ; Converse/Thrasher Death Match @ Scoot In (THURS 3/13, 5 pm); Burgermania @ Hotel Vegas (SAT 3/15, 11:00 pm)
#3 Sir Sly
From: Los Angeles
Breakout Release: “Ghost” from 2013 EP Gold
Why They’ll Break Big: Easily the poppiest band on this list, the trio of Sir Sly have flown under the radar until now but are poised to make big waves at SXSW. Their electronic sound is just dark and mysterious enough to feel authentic but laden with pop hooks and singalong choruses that elevate the music. These guys are on their way to finding the perfect amount of mainstream shimmer for a top 40 hit.
From: Toronto, Canada
Breakout Release: “Adult Diversion”
Why They’ll Break Big: They’re bringing back the 1950’s beach blanket party, packed with surfy strings, bubbly vocals and dreamy choruses.
Catch them at: Vice Official Showcase @ The Main (THURS 3/13)
From: Kettering, United Kingdom
Breakout Release: 2014 LP Sun Structures, Single “Shelter Song”
Why They’ll Break Big: An undeniably groovy psychedelic band whose sound is rooted in the 1960s with sprinkles of Motown, glam, Krautrock, kraut throughout. Cited by Noel Gallagher as the best new band in Britain.
From: Jamaica Plain, MA
Breakout Release: Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts into Tears EP (recorded at Bushwick’s Silent Barn)
Why They’ll Break Big: We’re pretty obsessed with any act that calls local label Exploding in Sound home. Krill, the hyper-intellectual post-punk, moody rock trio led by Jonah Fuhrman, is no exception. They paint a surprisingly elegant shit-themed metaphor on latest single “Turd.” Totally charming.
#7 La Luz
From: Seattle, WA
Breakout Single: “Sure As Spring” from 2013’s It’s Alive
Why They’ll Break Big: The woman’s take on surf rock is accessible to all: uplifting and slow-churned with intention and delicacy, lush harmonies floating about and playful rhythms and waltzy guitars.
From: Nashville, Tennessee
Breakout Release: “Honey” from 2013 Self Titled LP, Torres
Why They’ll Break Big: In the same class as the emotional-laden Sharon Van Etten and the more minimal approach of Waxahatchee, Torres is songstress armed with a gorgeous-yet-vulnerable croon and reverb-laced chords from her lucky Gibson guitar. NME calls it a “masterclass in intricate and tender storytelling.”
Catch her at: Misra Records showcase @ Lambert’s (FRI 2/15, 1 am, $walk up ticket required)
#9 Gap Dream
From: Fullerton, California
Breakout Single: “Shine Your Light” from 2013’s Shine Your Light
Why They’ll Break Big: The perfect balance of garage fuzz, powerful psych guitar, and hazy synths overtop harmonious vocals and introspective lyrics is perfect for shoegazers and electronic fans alike.
Catch them at: Burgermania @ Hotel Vegas (SAT 3/15, 8:30 pm)
From: Detroit, Michigan
Breakout Release: “Scum, Rise!” Single
Why They’ll Break Big: Following in the vein of similarly excellent Detroit punk bands like Tyvek, Protomartyr’s brand of angular, energetic noise should make for some powerful sets at South by. The band’s latest, “Scum, Rise!” is a dark, twisted tale.
Catch Them At: Sub Pop Day Party @ The North Door (WED 3/12, 2:45 pm) ; Pitchfork @ French Legation Museum (WED, 3/12) Can’t Stop the Bleeding @ Beerland (THURS 3/13; 3:20 pm); Waterloo Records Showcase (FRI March 14, 3 pm)
We can’t wait to see all of these bands, and YOUR BAND down there if you’re making it. Leave your own SXSW tour dates in the comments if you’d like us to shout you out. Big thanks to Showlist Austin for making this list a whole lot easier to compile.