South by Southwest is a static thing -- both in theory and in practice. It's a chance for bands to fans to see the established acts they've been wanting to see and for new, up-and-coming acts to try and make names for themselves. And that latter part very much tends to be the case as the festival goes on and bands wow fans and critics with their offerings; by the end of the weekend, a band people hadn't even heard of heading into the festival, if they play their cards right, can be playing to max-capacity crowds.
So, with that in mind, we're going to be trying our best this weekend to keep track of the always fluid buzz bands at this year's SXSW in a buzz band power ranking format, using a very unscientific combination of our own preconceived notions and interests and the chatter we're hearing from other attendees on the street and in the venues.
Over the next couple of days, we'll be altering the list based off what we see and here. But, with Wednesday night in the books, we've got our initial SXSW Buzz Power Ranking ready for your perusal. Check it out after the jump.
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1. Kanye West
The hip-hop superstar's "secret" Saturday night showcase at the Vevo PowerStation is the talk of the town -- text-RSVPing to the event maxed out by 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon. The only thing more talked about, really, are all the other rumored other showcases he's supposedly playing under this bridge or that bridge or at this or that after-party. Wishful thinking, no doubt.
2. James Blake
Seem months and months of incessant blog hype can pay off: The British electronic artist's somber offerings and cool voice are almost sickeningly atop everyone's must-see list at this year's festival. We saw it yesterday. It's not that good, but whatever.
See: Rumored secret showcases that just straight-up aren't happening despite wishful rumoring.
4. Odd Future
The talk of the hip-hop world since the release of main man Tyler, The Creator's "Yonkers" video, the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All's official showcases, as well as Fader Fort appearances and MTVu Woodie Award cameos, all look to be almost impossible to get into at this point.
5. The Strokes
In town to promote their new release, it's the turn of the millennium all over again.
6. TV On The Radio
The critical darlings, like the Strokes, are in town to promote their own new release, playing various official showcases and high-profile day parties.
7. Queens of the Stone Age
Josh Homme and Co. headlined Rolling Stone's party at La Zona Rosa last night.
8. Lil B
After Kanye and Odd Future, the so-called Based God's rare live performances at this year's festival promise to be as sloppy as his somehow adored flow.
9. Jack White
White performed somewhere yesterday afternoon -- not sure where, but we saw pictures -- and his Third Man Records label/store's mobile shopping center has set up shop at Waterloo Records.
10. Toro y Moi
Because there's otherwise no sign of Neon Indian.
11. Wiz Khalifa
Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow...
12. Okkervil River
Aside from their opening slot for Arcade Fire, the hometown Austin heroes, with a new album at the ready, are hardly playing Texas on their upcoming tour, thereby making their sets here all the more must-see offerings.
13. Smith Westerns
Having one of the best pre-SXSW album releases of the year will do that for you.
The 23-piece aupergroup has curated their own showcase, called Gayngs Affiliyated, to go down tonight, and, last night, they played a secret, unlisted show at Red 7 patio, a few slots before Okkervil. Sorry, 35 Conferette attendees, but Bon Iver's Justin Vernon is very much present this time around -- and, says a Friend of DC9 who talked to him, he's expecting to perform with Kanye on Saturday night.
See: Smith Westerns
Hip-hop. So hot this year.
17. Surfer Blood
Among last year's top up-and-coming buzz bands with Neon Indian, Surfer Blood's hype this year is only slightly downgraded. The band's playing a handful of official showcases, plus unofficial parties -- almost as if last year never happened.
18. Cyhi da Prince
Kanye collaborator is a big draw among the hoping-to-see-a-surprise-Kanye-appearance set.
19. Gold Panda
Not to be confused with Panda Bear or Hot Panda, another SXSW showcasing act, this Pitchfork-approved electronic act's sets are big talk among the blogger crowd.
The new project from Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris drew a big crowd to Emo's last night. It probably didn't hurt that they played right before Bad Brains and the Black Lips, but still.
22. Wu-Tang Clan
They just keep feeding you, and feeding you, and feeding you...
New NME-approved UK act is all the rage among the foreign set -- which seems more prominent this year than in year's past for whatever reason.
People really like retro-leaning, female-fronted, lo-fi pop acts, in case you haven't heard.
Because MGMT is nowhere to be found at this point.
26. Mac Miller
Wiz Khalifa hype spillover, believe it or not, for the white, Khalifa-affialiated, also Pittsburgh-based rapper, who was just on the XXL freshman cover.
27. Big K.R.I.T.
More hippity-hop. And another XXL freshman.
28. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Easily, the best name at this year's SXSW.
One more XXL freshman... and probably the best of the bunch, if the least hyped.
Female electro-pop star in the making. Easily this year's Yelle.