SXSW Music 2022 is almost here and like every year I profiled 10 of the best local artists!
After two years of cancellations and virtual showcases, the South by Southwest conference and festivals are back with a screaming vengeance. On the music side, nearly 2,000 artists are preparing to hit our beautiful city, including more than 200 from ATX. A whirlwind of music and discovery, SXSW 2022 is poised to be one of the ages.
To celebrate SXSW’s triumphant return, I’ve compiled my Top 10 Austin artists you absolutely must see at this year’s festival. As always, here are the rules!
- This list is in alphabetical order.
- As always, I only choose bands and artists that I have never featured in my annual list or covered in detail on this site. You can read my annual lists here: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
SXSW Music 2022 in Austin – Top 10 Local Artists
1/ Adam Ostar
On first listen, you’d be tempted to call Adam Ostrar 60s retro folk. Crank out a few songs and you’ll learn that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Combining American folk with a Texas twang, Ostrar’s sound is familiar because it’s unique. “Take It Back” mixes a groove through an urgent Dylan-esqe Bleecker Street bop while “Kansas City” is the kind of subtle storytelling that helped me fall in love with the genre. A wonderful artist worth exploring and enjoying at the earliest opportunity.
Ever since I saw Zeale perform at 3Ten ACL Live in 2017, I knew I would follow him anywhere. Who knew a year later he would team up with flow master Phranchyze and create one of Austin’s best punches. Their latest record, “Indigo Room” is chock full of bangers. “Like Me Tho” sways and sways to a minimalist beat while “Viral” comments on our current state of social media’s obsession with style and flow. Don’t sleep on Blackillac, y’all. Should be up your SXSW schedule.
3/ Calliope Musicals
It is an inexcusable crime. Calliope Musicals didn’t make any of my SXSW lists (apart from superlatives). A nitro explosion of color, power and musical joy, Carrie Fussell’s glam renegade band of jammers is particularly sensational. Let the dirty growl of the bass of “Color/Sweat” drag you into the maelstrom, swirl through the explosive groove of the strings of “That’s Why We Dance.” When you’re ready, escape to relative normality with their latest single, “Dr. Poivre.” And see them live for heaven’s sake. You will thank me later.
4/ Jon Muq
Some artists go online the minute you hear their music. Others require a live frame before appreciation sets in. For me, Jon Muq fits into the latter. It only took two songs at Black Fret Black Ball 2021 to make me an insta-fan. Disgusting yet powerful, Muq’s unique voice reaches untold emotional depths and sends back touching truths and vivid imagery. While originals like “Always Remember Us This Way” demonstrate the full range of Muq’s skills, his cover of Birdy’s “Skinny Love” is inspiring. An artist I can’t wait to see again on the SXSW stage.
5/ Kydd Jones
Austin hip hop is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance. And when it comes to MCs leading the charge, Kydd Jones deserves to be in the conversation. His latest album, “Onyx d’Or”, is the musical equivalent of a collection of short stories. Of its 16 tracks, the highest notes go to the laid-back bumper “Sprinter” and “Sam’s Club,” a relaxing, drum-studded track featuring the incomparable Jackie Venson. An MC of exquisite flow and rockstar chops, Kydd Jones continues to fuel the ATX hip hop revival with skill and swag.
Be sure to check out my lists from previous years – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
SXSW Music 2022 in Austin – Top 10 Local Artists – Continued
Blending Motown, blues, funk and nearly every other influence known to man, Micah Motenko’s sound is a joy to listen to. Tunes like the soulful “On Your Level” feature Motenko’s signature piano while “The Thief” grooves through subtle drum work, soft touches and sharp lyrics of loss and regret. Another artist who begs to be experienced live, Motenko delivers a special brand of rare and special vibes.
7/ Primo the extraterrestrial
Before seeing her live at the Black Fret Ball, I thought of Primo the Alien as a talented songwriter who creates infectious pop tunes from a box of Crayola sounds and influences. Afterwards, it is a primordial force of nature. Using the backdrop of the 80s synth to create new and exciting music, Primo transcends the modern new wave genre. And the woman can belt like the best in ATX. One of my favorite artists to emerge over the past five years and must-see during SXSW 2022.
8/ Mister Woman
Don’t make a mistake. Kelsey Wilson is an Austin musical treasure. Once a Wild Child side project, Sir Woman has become a powerhouse with its own groove and soul. Wilson’s upbeat, effortless vocals shine on the charming “Highroad” while their latest release, “Get What You Want,” layers strings, jazz bar piano and sparse guitar to create a touching 70s soul jam. . I’ve had the chance to see Wilson perform several times, and each time is not just a new experience. It is an evolution. Listening and attendance required for SXSW participants.
9/ Sun June
Indie pop is a broad and often tense genre. Built from a web of influences and styles, the bands get lost in the label. Sun June stands out from the crowd with sharp lyrics and cloudy afternoon vibes. Vocalist Laura Colwell’s dreamy, evocative sighs and coos accompany subtle bops and rhythms. “Bad girl” tells a mournful short story about an escape to the Big Easy while “Everything I had” ups the tempo and emotional temperature in equal measure. Soft and austere pillow well suited to nostalgic gazes from bedroom windows and moments of contemplation. Absolutely love it.
10/ We don’t ride llamas
Sometimes you need a little grunt in your day and this fierce quartet delivers in a major way. “The Flies” turns a wicked punk flaw into a sonic nod while their latest single, “Venus & Mars,” is an infectious funk earworm with a tight guitar line and silky-smooth vocals. . A band I predict big things for and can’t wait to stay up late to check out during SXSW 2022.
Stay up to date on all the fun happenings and activities with our guides Things to do in Austin this weekend, Things to do in Austin this week and Things to do in Austin with kids this weekend
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