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SXSW: Local Bands You'll Love, and Where to Catch Them This Week

Sure, you know Shakey Graves. Willie Nelson’s name might ring a bell. But this year the SXSW roster is stacked with some awesome local acts you might not be familiar with. We picked a few you need to know about.

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BUHU

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BUHU’s goofy social media shenanigans and unconventional style (their 2014 EP was recorded in trees, tattoo parlors and other obscure locations) is both unpredictable and entertaining. And while their attitude and sound reflect party boys making party music, the January release of Relationshapes reaffirms the fact that they’ve also got serious talent. Think rock and pop and electronic with a bit of a 1980s vibe and solid synth, produced and polished by collaborators who’ve worked with bands such as LCD Soundsystem, Spoon and Arcade Fire.

Catch them: March 17 at Doc’s on South Congress; March 18 at TenOak

[Photo credit: Stephen DeMent Photography]

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Calliope Musicals

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Calliope’s self-described genre — “psychedelic party folk!!” — not only illustrates their style of music but also the degree of enthusiasm with which they deliver it. While the songs themselves are dance worthy on their own, what’s especially impressive is their live performance: the playful implementation of art, props, costumes and confetti cannons combined with the genuine joy that emanates from each member of the band. Everyone is having fun on stage, and it’s a contagious feeling that easily overflows into the audience. This SXSW, you have multiple chances to catch the band live before their album, Time Owes You Nothing, drops on April 15. We imagine you’ll want to attend the album release party, too.

Catch them: March 15 and March 17 at Cheers (rooftop); March 17 at Tellers; March 18 at Stay Gold; March 18 at Shiner Saloon; March 19 at Doc’s on South Congress

[Photo credit: Jerry Sparkman]

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Chipper Jones

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Like the MLB superstar who inspired their name, James Lambrecht and Charlie Martin are definitely heavy hitters. While capturing and holding an audience’s attention is never an easy feat, it’s likely more difficult when there aren’t lyrics involved. But the talented guys of Chipper Jones — whose instrumentals and dynamic conjure fair comparisons to those of El Ten Eleven — never seem to have trouble mesmerizing audience members. If you miss them at SXSW, be sure to check out their recently released split cassette with Austin’s Chris Lopez. Whether you listen to it on an actual tape player or online, it’s guaranteed good vibes.

Catch them: March 16 at Midway Field House; March 17 at Wonderland

[Photo credit: Santiago RD/Facebook]

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Hikes

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“A band of friends from Austin … inspired by nature, and driven to meld their love of heavy, technical styles with jazz, indie, and folk.” So goes Hikes’ online band description. And the melodies — which, as they wash over you, nearly force you to close your eyes and properly soak them up — certainly don’t disappoint. Check out their most popular Spotify track, “Spring Forward” for seven minutes of music magic from four guys who appear way too young to be producing such awesome sound.

Catch them: March 19 at Get Over Yourself Fest; March 19 at Javelina

[Photo credit: Eric Morales]

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MCG

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While MCG frontwoman Marieclaire Gamble certainly boasts the vocal chops to succeed solo (and has previously recorded a studio album), the addition of four talented musicians transformed MCG into a bona fide band, with a sound aptly described by The Houston Chronicle as “a mix of Metric, Ghostland Observatory and Best Coast.” The group’s upcoming Outside EP, produced by Grammy-nominated producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith (who has worked with The Dandy Warhols and more), is the first studio album by the band’s current lineup and is set for an April 9 release, making South By the perfect opportunity to get a sneak preview.

Catch them: March 15 at Guero’s; March 18 at Shiner Saloon

[Photo credit: Katrina Barber]

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Mobley

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While there are plenty of talented acts in Austin, occasionally you stumble upon those whose quality blow the majority of the Top 40 out of the water. Mobley is one of them. Onstage, the frontman, backed by his drummer, seamlessly bounces between instruments (guitar, piano, an electronic device resembling an oversized calculator and more) and an electric presence with an incredibly smooth, radio-quality voice. His album is slated for an April 8 release, and if he isn’t a national household name within the next year — well then we’ve lost all faith in the system.

Catch him: March17 at Lambert’s; March 18 at Front Gate Tickets / Live Nation Morning After Party on South Congress; March 19 at Shiner’s Saloon; March 19 at ScratchHouse

[Photo credit: Katherine Larson]

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Obsolete Machines

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Obsolete Machines’ live shows aren’t exactly uplifting. Rather, the trio’s work is tinged with a definitive darkness that’s reflected in every element of their performance, from the lighting, wardrobe and makeup to the music itself. An Obsolete Machines show is essentially a piece of performance art, and the dramatic visual elements combine with their sound — featuring piano-heavy tracks and the expressive vocals of Adam Diener — to make it much more than just a musical performance. You probably won’t have the undeniable urge to dance, but you will be captivated in another way altogether.

Catch them: March 16 at Cheers (rooftop)

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Sweet Spirit

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What started as the individual endeavor of Sabrina Ellis eventually developed into a nine-piece band (complete with horns) that has not only become a highly regarded act within Austin’s music scene but has garnered national attention and adoration as well. (Spoon’s Britt Daniels is a fan, and has collaborated in various ways with the band.) Said by Stereogum to “oscillate between garage melodicism and dizzy fury,” Sweet Spirit’s sound and energy — with the commanding presence of Ellis up front — make the band a must-see, and this SXSW, you’ll have plenty of chances to do just that.

Catch them: March 16 at Panache/Hotel Vegas Boat Cruise on Lady Bird Lake; March 16 at Hotel San Jose; March 17 at Empire Control Room; March 18 at Waterloo Records; March 18 at Shiner Saloon; March 19 at KUTX Four Seasons; March 19 at The Parish

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Tameca Jones

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The best way to wake up on a Saturday during South by? That would be with the powerhouse presence of soulful songstress Tameca Jones. With accolades including 2015 Top Female Vocalist from the Austin Music Awards and a song roster featuring “honey dripping, hip gyrating, slow pulsating pimped out jazz, rock, pop, and soul tunes,” Jones’ performance is sure to be far more effective than any amount of coffee in your cup.

Catch her: March 19 at KUTX Four Seasons; March 19 at Continental Club

[Photo credit: Elizabeth Wiseman]

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Young Tongue

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Formerly known as The Baker Family, this five-piece band has been performing and producing music under their current moniker since 2014. Young Tongue’s style ranges “from progressive indie rock to dance-infused dream pop.” The alternating, sometimes harmonizing vocals of husband and wife Stu and Liz Baker combines with keys, bass, guitar, drums and even banjo, and the result is a musical product that’s best experienced in the form of their invigorating live show.

Catch them: March 17 at Lambert’s; March 18 at Fado; March 19 at Esther’s Follies

[Photo credit: Ryan Cooper]

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