Rosegarden Funeral Party, lead by Leah Lane, is an unmissable act at SXSW this year.Christopher Durbin
After two years of being virtual-only due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 29th edition of SXSW returns in 2022 with a March 11-20 run. Once again, an influx of artists will head to downtown Austin to be seen and heard, which means attendees get to plan out their schedules to see their favorite acts, and wake up to those they'd been sleeping on.
During SXSW, 6th Street is packed with people moving from one destination to the next, checking out the live music that blasts from the bars as they pass. A big part of the allure of SXSW is the promise of invaluable musical discoveries, the chance to break out of your curated playlists and to take a chance on people’s advice about what artists you should see. The intimate performance settings can make lasting memories and earn artists' new fans through a personal connection.
Back in October 2021, SXSW announced the first round of performing artists and continued to release more names in December and January. There’s a good amount of artists making the trip to Austin this year to represent Dallas. Here are the acts you should be checking out if you’re attending SXSW this year. Dates and other info are available on the festival's website.
Since 2017, Luna Luna has been producing bedroom pop and creating soundtracks for the emotionally drenched through throwback grooves and dreamy vocals. The four-piece bilingual Latinx band, consisting of Kavvi (lead vocals, co-producer), Danny Bonilla (keys, backup vocals), Kaylin Martínez (drums), and Ryan Gordon (bass), have continued to grow their Dallas buzz well into 2022, coming off the release of their debut album Flower Moon, and recently relocated to Austin. The band members fuse lyrics of English and Spanish in some of their tracks, delivered through a melody-rich writing that’s soothing and catchy. The band heads on part two of their Flower Moon Tour this year, starting on March 22 in Fort Collins, Colorado, but you can catch them at SXSW before then.
Listen to: “Early Morning.” Rosegarden Funeral Party Dallas Goth-rockers Rosegarden Funeral Party are the dichotomy of beauty in pain and heartbreak. Their name comes from John Cale’s “Rosegarden Funeral of Sores” and The Cure’s “The Funeral Party.” Just that alone has brought fans who first came to their shows based on their name. “I feel good about that,” says lead singer and guitarist Leah Lane. “I feel like it describes our music really well. It’s become something more than just a band name to us. It’s become a family that includes a lot more people than just us.” It’ll be an electrifying live show you wouldn’t want to miss.
Listen to: “Gates of Heaven.” Sara King
A self-proclaimed “glitter pop” artist, Sara King began her music career doing covers of songs by the likes of Billie Eilish, Tyler, the Creator, and Frank Ocean on YouTube. Her covers became popular, and so did she. With over 224,000 subscribers and over 2.4 million plays on Spotify for her single “Dreamz,” Sara King is ready to take her music to the next level. Many local publications have described her sound as “vintage” and “new retro” because it fits her personality so well. This year she tweeted: “i have absolutely no idea what kind of music i wanna make right now. i’m like hmm 80s synth pop hmmm jazz and blues hmmm soft rock mazzy star hmmm italian film score hmmmm.”
What we're gathering is that King wants to go for a bit of everything. She often writes straightforward-yet-poetic songs that match her mood board, giving off shades of Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Kali Uchis. Her debut EP Erotica was released in 2021, and she’s working on another batch of songs to drop soon.
Listen to: “Welcome to Erotica.” Skirts
Led by Alex Montenegro, Skirts is an indie rock band with a growing fanbase. Montenegro recruited live band members and friends Vincent Bui and Joshua Luttrull to Skirts to release last year’s Great Big Wild Oak. The album is calm and lush, with twangy guitars and mellow drums, the kind of album you play when you want to take the scenic route and get lost in your surroundings. The open-minded approach the band took when recording gave Skirts the freedom to make whatever sounded right while inspired by nature.
Listen to: “Always.” Jacks Haupt
Jacks Haupt’s musical journey hasn’t exactly been a smooth road. In a recent interview, the artist recalled how her high school classmates doubted that she had the potential to make it. But Haupt did whatever it took to share her art with the world.
Raised in Oak Cliff, Haupt’s inspiration for music came from her grandfather, who would play guitar and classic soul and rock from the 1960s and 1970s. Drawing comparisons to Amy Winehouse with her vocal style, Jacks Haupt is a bit of pop and a bit of Chicano soul with R&B mixed all together. Recently, her story was documented in director Isabel Castro's Mija, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Listen to: “3AM.” A-Wall
A-Wall is an artist primed for Gen Z fandom. The bedroom-pop crooner became an overnight sensation after his 2019 song “Loverboy” went viral on TikTok. The song became a soundtrack to a trend on the app that asks, “Yo bro, who got you smiling like that?” You can hear A-Wall’s song in over 110,000 TikTok videos, helping to push his streaming numbers well into the millions on Spotify. It earned a No. 1 spot on Spotify’s "Viral 50 songs" list shortly after.
While A-Wall has two solo albums (Verano, Helios) and a joint album with CHROMA, a Latino and American hip-hop band, called Primavera. He’s looking to gain new fans with his internet fame at SXSW so you can expect A-Wall to tease more music from his forthcoming album AutoPilot during his performances.
Listen to: “Nightcrawler.” Farah
Texas singer Farah has been one of the main artists on the label Italians Do It Better, working with producer/label head Johnny Jewel to create electronic dance music that releases serotonin-heavy joy. Farah die-hards are familiar with popular songs “Law of Life” and “Dancing Girls,” as well as her appearances on the label’s After Dark compilations. She uses both English and Farsi in a sing-talk style over Jewel’s dark disco compositions, mesmerizing listeners. With a devilishly fun music made for strobe lights, Farah is a must-see.
Listen to: “Fountain of Youth” Page 9
Page 9 is a five-piece rock band who are known to play at local bars in DFW and across the U.S. The self-proclaimed "Monsters of vaguely punkish alterna-rock” have just released a new single in 2021, a pop-punk cover of “Wait for it” from the Hamilton soundtrack, and are planning to hit the road again in March before SXSW. Earlier in February, the festival teased a Rent-themed poster with a promise that “all three bands are doing a showtune cover in their set.” Sign us up.
Listen to: “Wait for It” The Texas Gentlemen
The Texas Gentlemen have supported legendary artists such as George Strait, Kris Kristofferson and Ray Wylie Hubbard to modern icons Leon Bridges and Shakey Graves. Now the once-backing band is serving up original songs and making its name as a headlining force. With 2017’s TX Jelly and 2020’s Floor It!!!, the Dallas-based quintet has plenty of songs to lock into a groove and jam away. They make improvisation look easy, leaning into their individual styles to slip from one genre to the next. For fans of The Wrecking Crew and The Swampers, The Texas Gentlemen are ready to give Austin a memorable SXSW moment.
Listen to: “Bare Minimum.” Billy Star
Billy Star is a diverse rock band made up of frontman Nick (vocals, guitar), Haley (guitar, bass), Julius (drums, guitar) and bassist Alyssa Norman. They’re still relatively unknown with a small social media following, but they’ve already put out two releases, 2021’s 100% and their Talking in Circles EP. The group is all experimental punk and moody, channeling the same attitude as The Strokes.
Listen to: “Reducer.” Ehsan Matoori / Borderless Band
The Borderless Band was co-founded by santoorist and composer Ehsan Matoori as a response to the travel ban imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2017. The order placed restrictions on travel to the U.S. for citizens in Muslim-majority countries such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. When this ban left most of Matoori’s Middle Eastern and classic collaborators from entering the U.S. for an upcoming tour, Matoori wanted to keep the Borderless message alive.
The Borderless Band is made up of Middle Eastern musicians in collaboration with Western classic players including Matoori (santoor), Jonathan Jones (clarinet), Michael Nesuda (guitar), Ali Montazeri (bam tar), Yahya Alkhansa (drums), Joseph Kuipers (cello) and Sara Zare (vocals). Their goal is to bring the music from their home countries to North America, creating original works that draw from traditional folk melodies from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
Listen to: “Freedom Story.” Angel White
If you’re a fan of Atlanta rapper Kenny Mason, you've probably heard of Angel White. He appeared on Mason’s “Titan” from his new project Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut. As a solo artist, he’s already received a Dallas Observer Music Award nomination (Best Funk/R&B act in 2020) despite having only a few songs to his name. White's “A Lovely Place” is vulnerable, all-acoustic guitar and vocals. With a keen eye for arresting visuals, don’t be surprised if Angel White becomes the most-talked about act during SXSW.
Listen to: “Poison” SRSQ
After losing her Them Are Us Too collaborator, Cash Askew, to the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California, Kennedy Ashlyn was left to focus all her expression into her solo project SRSQ, pronounced “Seer-skew.” The keyboardist and vocalist dropped her debut album, Unreality, in 2018, an experiment of dark dream pop and Goth.
As she navigates the world solo, Ashlyn's music becomes more abstract. For example, SRSQ’s description for the video of “Temporal Love” defines the song as “about the condition of experiencing time, how moments can be warped and stretched, and how memories can pervade in disorienting totality.” The artist creates with self-awareness, reflection through her experiences and the knowledge that emotions are fleeting — even the bad ones.
Listen to: “Someday I Will Bask in the Sun.” The 40 Acre Mule
The 40 Acre Mule is all about making music for people from every walk of life. Formed in Dallas in 2015, the self-described “rhythm and blues outfit” built their fan base through word-of-mouth by performing at bars and roadhouses. They are inspired by pioneers such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Ray Charles, as well as later contemporaries like J.D. McPherson, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Gary Clark Jr. The group earned a reputation for blurring lines between vintage rock 'n' roll, blues, soul and a touch of country. They’re a great act to see live at festivals, as they're known for their high-energy performances that get people looking to boogie. With their debut album Goodnight and Goodluck finally out, they’re looking to make a splash at SXSW.
Listen to: “Dear Jen.” Lil Texxan
The Dallas underground hip-hop scene is bubbling with artists on the verge of blowing up. Plano’s own Lil Texxan is one of those rappers who's organically established a fanbase through live shows. “It’s pipe up time,” he says of his performance preparation in the mini-documentary Ya Feel Me: The Lil Texxan Doc. “And that boost of energy, it keeps going even if I do run out of breath.”
Lil Texxan’s songs are like a shot of adrenaline. Although he doesn’t necessarily fit in with the overarching Dallas hip-hop sound, he cites 2 Chainz as an influence and the “underground” as his style. The word “different” to describe him would just be boxing him in. So if you’re a fan of Xavier Wulf or the Suicideboys, a Lil Texxan show will give you the same rush.
Listen to: “Row Me Da Boat”
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