From Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players to Icona Pop, here are 10 acts that shouldn’t be missed at the epic Austin music festival.


Austin, Texas’ annual South by Southwest music festival is always one of the year’s most closely watched events — a collision of new bands, big stars and free beer that’s unlike anything else on the concert circuit. Billboard’s sharing in the fun this year as the media partner of Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players concert, the Warner Sound showcases and the Spotify Live show. While it’s hard to go wrong with the 1,000+ groups vying for attention in the bbq-fueled Austin madness, here are 10 acts worth keeping an eye on in 2013.

Sound City Players: After making their debut in Park City alongside the release of the Foo Fighters frontman’s “Sound City” documentary, Dave Grohl’s all-star group will bring a piece of rock history to Austin’s Stubbs on Thursday (March 14), just hours after Grohl delivers the SXSW keynote address. Grohl’s Sound City Players’ SXSW show, which is presented by Citi Private Pass and and for which Billboard is the exclusive media partner, will include Stevie Nicks, John Forgerty, Rick Nielsen, Rick Springfield, and a number of further rock heroes.

Iron & Wine: Sam Beam’s folk project will take a break from its usual theater shows for a series of intimate performances at SXSW, including a set at the Central Presbyterian Church March 16 and a gig among the gears on March 14 at Mellow Johnny’s, Lance Armstrong’s bike shop. He’ll go big just once this week, playing the Austin City Limits showcase at the Moody Theater on Wednesday night. The band’s upcoming “Ghost on Ghost,” due on Nonesuch on April 16, promises a further evolution of Iron & Wine’s increasingly lush sound, with single “Lovers’ Revolution” adding jazz to the mix.

Kendrick Lamar: It’s been quite a year for Compton-born MC Kendrick Lamar. Since playing a hot SXSW show in 2012, he’s released the critically acclaimed LP “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” leading to a bona fide hit with “Swimming Pools (Drank),” which swam to No. 17 on the Hot 100. He’s back at SXSW in a big way, headlining the March 13 Spotify Live show, for which Billboard is a media partner. Youngblood Hawke, Cazzette, Rober DeLon, Angel Haze and more on the bill.

The Staves: A trio so impressive they convinced father-son producers Glyn and Ethan Johns to head to the studio together for the first time, the UK’s Staves offer seamless harmonies and folk that ranges from tender to rollicking. The group’s debut, “Dead & Born & Grown,” is out in the UK now, though a U.S. release date remains in the works. They’ll play at St David’s Historic Sanctuary in Austin on March 15.

Snoop Lion: With the Jamaica-inspired “Reincarnation” due April 23, the MC formerly known as Snoop Dogg will showcase his new sound this week. Executive producer Diplo’s Major Lazer will open for Snoop on Thursday (March 14) at Viceland, so expect a full-on smoky reggae party.

Paramore: Grohl aside, the hardest rocking stars in Austin this week may well be Paramore, who will headline the Warner Sound showcase, for which Billboard is a media partner, on Wednesday night (March 13). The group will offer a preview of eclectic material from their April-due self-titled album, the band’s fourth–and first since the departure of founding members Josh and Zac Farro.

Rhye: The L.A. duo’s debut, “Woman,” has been an instant critical hit, drawing high praise from outlets including Pitchfork and the Guardian. The group’s string and sax-aided soul music may be better suited to bedrooms and boutique hotels than dive bars, but there’s likely no room in Austin that could dim the seductive power of tracks such as “The Fall” and “Open.” The twosome play Buffalo Billiards on March 15.

Icona Pop: While there’s no shortage of synth-pop bands at SXSW this year, only one’s soundtracked a pivotal dance floor scene in HBO’s “Girls.” The duo’s breakthrough track, “I Love It,” featuring Charli XCX, was already a massive hit in the duo’s native Sweden before cracking the Hot 100–with their debut album in the works, it’s a good bet Icona Pop’s sets (which include March 12 at the Warner Sound showcase) will summon both charmingly confused twenty-somethings and industry vets into sweaty, slo-mo celebration.

Earl Sweatshirt: Two years ago, Los Angeles’ Odd Future collective proved themselves a live force with a number of high-energy, high-controversy SXSW sets–most greeted with cries of “Free Earl!” In advance of his major label solo debut, “Doris,” the now-liberated MC will touch down in Austin with sets on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (March 13, 15-16) on his own this week.

Fear of Men: The UK act’s “Early Fragments” may be a singles collection, but it’s among the year’s most exciting debuts–a treble-heavy set that harkens back to the dramatic melodies of Kate Bush and the Cranberries. The band’s earned attention from Gorilla Vs. Bear and the A.V. Club, with enough SXSW sets (including a stop at Valhalla on March 14) lined up to corral everyone else.

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