Call it “The Great South By Southwest Paradox.” A festival initially founded to shed light on local artists has slowly become overrun with superstars and big-budget sponsors. Its current form is unrecognizable from its humble beginnings. It was bound to happen, but don’t let that dissuade you from taking a chance on some of this city’s finest homegrown talent. Sometimes it pays to skip the three-hour lines, stop refreshing Drake’s Twitter and mosey into the charming dive bar you’ve been meaning to go to. You might find that your new favorite artist comes from your own city.
Tess — Hikes
Falling into the unique math-folk genre, Hikes’ combination of progressive percussion and lulling harmonies create a sense of cathartic chaos that is best witnessed live. The band and their ever-growing fan base are truly all about camaraderie and companionship. I’ve spent many Hikes shows with my arms wrapped around both my best friends and strangers, belting the lyrics along with frontman Nathan Wilkins. A live set from Hikes promises friendly moshing, stage dives and a sense of unity as the crowd flails back and forth. The band consists of some of Austin’s finest musicians, and there’s truly no better time to catch them than at this year’s SXSW.
Belicia — Summer Salt
We all want a warm spring break — Summer Salt can help with that. Their sound is influenced by Bossa Nova, oldies and surf music. This combination makes for the perfect warm weather soundtrack. Their current album, “Driving To Hawaii,” consists of six sweet and breezy songs. Everytime I hear the title track I swear I’ve been taken away to a tropical island and am laying on a warm, sandy beach. Anytime I find out Summer Salt is playing a show, I’m there, and I advise all to do the same and check them out this SXSW.
Maria — Wild Child
On the softer side of Austin indie, Wild Child will provide the perfect relief for those mid-SXSW headaches and hangovers. Lead singer Kelsey Wilson’s silky vocals and harmonies with Alexander Beggins are a musical match made in heaven. On their more upbeat tunes, expect Wilson to dance barefoot on stage wearing a contagious grin that gets the whole audience swaying and singing with her. Coming back from a huge tour in Europe, Wild Child is excited to return to Texas, and I am more excited to have them back during SXSW.
Britny — Residual Kid
I wish I was half as cool as Residual Kid when I was in high school. Actually, I wish I was half as cool as them today. Clad in band tees and skate shoes, the teenage trio look like your average punk kids, but they have the talent to back it up. The band consists of brothers Ben and Max Redman on drums and bass, and vocalist/guitarist Devyn Ivy. Their brand of “noise punk grunge alternative” (as it’s labeled on their Facebook) sounds like the love child of the Ramones and Nirvana, making it a perfect match for the scattered, chaotic state SXSW will certainly put your brain in.
Bryan — Roger Sellers
A year-and-a-half ago, I wrote that I had no idea how to identify Roger Sellers, and I can’t really say much has changed. I could tell you that his newest album, “Primitives,” contains gorgeous melodies and lush instrumentation reminiscent of Animal Collective or Panda Bear, but with more tunefulness and less meandering. I could describe the way his live performances teeter on the brink of disaster, with Sellers constantly turning knobs, pushing pedals, flicking switches and even pounding drums — all in the moment and without a net. I could try to explain the way he bounces across the stage in step with his music, wringing and waving his hands like a wizard trying to cast a spell on his audience and wailing into the ether. I could emphatically assure you that the most prominent feeling you’ll take away from his show is a floating sensation indicating you’ve transcended your earthly surroundings and have experienced a rush of euphoria. But, in my opinion, I think you’re better off drawing those conclusions for yourself this SXSW.