ORANGE Music Roundup: Best Austin Artists to See at SXSW

It’s upon us.

South by Southwest 2016, that is. Surely any festival veteran worth his or her salt has been tirelessly perfecting a schedule for weeks now, checking Twitter updates and SXSW lineup additions with alarming frequency to make sure no band goes unseen. But, as these veterans also know, plans can quickly go to hell when dealing with a behemoth like SXSW, and it’s always good to have a backup. Rather than camp outside Fader Fort for 18 hours only to not get in (and not have that Drake headliner set anyway), check out some of the artists representing this city and helping it maintain its title as the Live Music Capital of the World.

Bryan — Otis the Destroyer

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Otis the Destroyer makes dancin’ music, and I’m not talking about the type you see at Barbarella on ‘80s night. I’m talking about kicking, punching, pogoing and head banging as this four-piece whips up a fine punk rock fury. The band’s new EP, “Belushi,” combines glammy, power-pop hooks with searing guitar solos and urgent vocals, coming off as the bizarrely brilliant lovechild of the Cars and Iggy Pop (the latter of whom they cover with diligence and zeal). Catch these flannel-rocking, hair-waving, axe-shredding dudes in the flesh at Javelina on Saturday, March 19 — consider it the last in a week of musical ass kickings. Search and destroy, baby.

Armando — Bill Converse

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

A legend in the Austin electronic music scene, Bill Converse is getting one hell of a push this year. He recently appeared on Resident Advisor’s podcast and released a project on Dark Entries. On Saturday, March 19, he’ll perform on NTS Radio’s showcase at Kingdom alongside Benjamin Damage and Footwork pioneers RP Boo and DJ Spinn. Converse makes hypnotic tracks that mix older electronic music with more contemporary acid techno elements. His local DJ sets feel like an interactive music history lesson thanks to his wide array of deep cuts from all eras.

Kristin — Ghostland Observatory

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

I remember hearing Ghostland Observatory for the first time when I was 11, after they released their sophomore album, “Paparazzi Lightning,” and thinking they were unlike anything I’d ever heard at that point. The Austin-based duo consisting of Aaron Behrens and Thomas Turner incorporates elements of electronic, funk and soul into its eclectic sound. The band has such a strong connection to its hometown that they even performed with the Longhorn Band in 2007 for Austin City Limits. They released their newest EP, “Life of the Party,” in October, maintaining the electronic funk we’ve come to know and love. Hear it in all its glory at Banger’s on Friday, March 18.

Jim — The Nightowls

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Photo Courtesy of Facebook

If I’m being honest with myself, my pick is as much about my hipster-ish pride in the fact that I’ve been following this band since 2012, as it as about their incredible music. The Nightowls make smoky, soulful music worthy of any city’s lounge scene, and it just so happens that they’ve set up shop in ATX. Their 2013 debut, “Good as Gold,” was one of the year’s best, and they kept the momentum going with last September’s “The Fame Sessions.” You can catch them and their full-band choreography next Tuesday, March 15, at Maggie Mae’s.

Kaitlin —The Canvas People

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Childhood friends Wes Maxwell and Kyle Taylor met Luke Williams and Pat Epley when they moved outside Austin to attend Texas State University. They quickly formed the Canvas People and have since played at iconic Austin venues, such as Mohawk and Stubb’s. In 2015, they released their debut album “Sirens,” which combined indie and classic rock in a raw, stripped down package. You can find out all their SXSW performances here, and when the madness dies down, you can catch them at at Whole Foods on Saturday, March 26 for free.  

Tess — Black Joe Lewis

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Raised right off the North Loop, Black Joe Lewis is a bona fide, authentic Austinite. The funky blues rocker released his first solo album, “Electric Slave,” in 2013 after splitting with his previous bandleader, Zach Ernst, and his backing band, the Honeybears.  Lewis’ stage presence demands full attention as he screeches into the mic and pounds out the chords on his guitar during every song. He was the first guitarist I ever saw live who played with his tongue, and by far one of the most captivating performers I’ve ever seen. You can see for yourself at the Clive Bar on Thursday, March 17.