SXSW 2014: Acts to Hear This Year

Trinidad James SXSW 2014

We just returned from South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX where we spent a glorious week listening to endless live music, dancing into the wee hours of the morning and, of course, eating our fill of delicious BBQ. As the music conference approaches it’s 30th year, there were around 2,200 national and international acts performing at more than 100 stages around the city. In addition to all of these official SXSW showcases that take place at night, there are dozens of daytime parties where you can get your booze on and dance to even more live music. We hung out with everyone from Spotify to Soundcloud, but spent most of our time at House of Vans at The Mohawk – a collaboration with SPIN, Stereogum and VIBE – where we saw acts like Trinidad James, Bad Suns and a killer closing set by Flosstradamus.

Looking back on an incredible week of music, we handpicked five of our favorite acts you need to check out this year. From a funky five-piece band from London to the hottest rapper coming out of Chicago, take a look and listen below and pump some new music through your speakers.

Jungle
We first saw Jungle at Spotify House during the first of their day parties and loved them so much, we caught them again at House of Vans at The Mohawk later in the week. Hailing from London, the five-piece band has remained quite mysterious and were able to hide their identities until their most recent breakout shows. Funky and soulful, their music will have your feet tapping nonstop until their debut album drops later this year.

ASTR
Here’s something you don’t hear every day. Adam, one half of New York City duo ASTR, met front woman Zoe at the yoga studio where she worked as an instructor. Even though they never intended to play professionally, show-goers already know every word to their debut Varsity EP. We boogied down to their performance in the sun-drenched NYLON Loft at Malverde Thursday afternoon and can’t wait to see them again.

Wet
This Brooklyn trio puts out the kind of seductive sound that will get stuck in your head for weeks – and you certainly won’t mind. We caught them during The Windish Agency Annual Day Party at House of Vans at The Mohawk on Friday, and we were floating on their minimalistic pop sounds for the rest of the afternoon. Not to mention, we can’t get enough of their laid-back 90s style. Check out their four song, self-titled EP and get in the mood.

Future Islands
If you’re familiar with Future Islands, it’s for good reason: the band’s fourth album Singles drops on March 25. But after seeing them perform twice at SXSW – first at Spotify House then at Cheer Up Charlie’s – we can tell this is going to be the North Carolina synth pop trio’s year. Lead singer Samuel T. Herring is absolutely electrifying on stage – his dance moves, facial expressions and energy are those of a true performer. The band also won SXSW’s second annual Grulke Prize for Developing US Act, an honor given to artists who are breaking new ground with their creativity and show the most promise in achieving their career goals.

Chance the Rapper
After dropping his stellar mixtape Acid Rap last year, Chance the Rapper started popping up all over the hip hop community. A 20-year-old from Chicago’s South Side, his style is a healthy mix of spoken word and fast flow. Unfortunately his SXSW show was truncated by the fire marshal for being over capacity, but he took home the MTV Woodie Award for Best Video for Everybody’s Something. Check him out if you haven’t already.

Photo credit: Bryan Derballa