The annual South by Southwest Music Festival begins tonight, and Rock Daily will be reporting live from the mosh pit (and the barbecue pit) until the last note is played on Sunday. Stay tuned for live reviews, video interviews, photo galleries and footage of some of the hottest gigs (and while you're at it, catch up on what went down at last year's festival while you're there). In the meantime, take a look at the twelve bands Rock Daily is most excited about — six heavy hitters and six up-and-comers.
• R.E.M.: The venerable band is about to release its best album in years, and they are treating SXSW as their coming out party.
• Body of War (featuring Tom Morello, Serj Tankian, Ben Harper and Kimya Dawson): Some of the participants in the soundtrack to the Iraq veteran documentary Body of War will get together for what will be equally rocking and heartfelt.
• My Morning Jacket: My Morning Jacket are perpetual festival heroes; look for them to debut new tracks from their upcoming album Evil Urges.
• Paramore: The young'uns from Tennessee take their platinum success to their first SXSW.
• Vampire Weekend: The New York band has ridden the buzz wave right into downtown Austin.
• N.E.R.D.: Pharrell Williams' rap/rock/psych collective will bring some boogie to the festival and likely a special guest or two.
• Robyn: Sweden's favorite comeback kid puts on fantastically energetic, potty-mouthed performances.
• Duffy: The Welsh Dusty Springfield look-alike has topped the charts in the U.K.; Austin may be the first step in her conquest of America.
• She & Him: Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward will keep their momentum going on the eve of the release of their debut album Volume 1.
• Does It Offend You, Yeah?: This electro-rock outfit are already critical darlings in England; you'll be hearing from them a lot in the coming months.
• Yeasayer: These multi-national New Yorkers play sweaty, energetic shows that should make quite an impact with the festival crowd.
• he Cool Kids: Chicago's next great hip-hop duo's party vibe and playfulness will inspire crazy dances and rounds of "Did they really just say that?"