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SXSW 2013: 20 Must-See Acts

Make room in your schedule, between the beer and barbecue, for these bands

SXSW 20 must see acts

With more than 1,300 acts scheduled to perform at South by Southwest in Austin this week, it's easy to get lost among the endless choices at the 27th-annual festival, which runs Tuesday through Saturday. There are some clear standouts, though, from well-known acts like Iggy and the Stooges, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to buzzed-about up-and-comers including Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Alt-J and Waxahatchee. They're among 20 must-see acts at SXSW who are worth making room for, between the beer and the barbecue, in your schedule.

Click through to read more, and listen to songs from our bands to watch below.

By Eric R. Danton

Waxahatchee

Courtesy Enabler Agency

9

Waxahatchee

After twin sisters Allison and Katie Crutchfield ended their band P.S. Eliot in 2011, Katie started recording on her own as Waxahatchee. Her first album, last year's American Weekend, was well-received, but the buzz has grown much louder around the follow-up, Cerulean Salt. No wonder: Crutchfield alternates between kicking out gritty guitar rockers and charming, handmade folk-pop songs full of brainy, introspective lyrics that she sings in a wispy voice.

Earl Sweatshirt

Theo Jemison

8

Earl Sweatshirt

After Earl Sweatshirt gained as much attention for his absence from rap collective Odd Future as for his highly acclaimed 2010 debut Earl, the teenage MC reappeared last year after finishing high school in Somoa. In addition to rejoining Odd Future and contributing to Frank Ocean's Channel Orange in 2012, the rapper is working on the major-label follow-up to Earl, tentatively called Doris. He previewed the album last December with a video for the single "Chum."

Charli XCX

Dan Curwin

7

Charli XCX

Charlotte Aitchison is just 20, but the English singer has been making music for years already: she began recording as Charli XCX when she was 14. She's spent the intervening years honing a twisty, gleaming synth-pop sound on a string of singles and free mixtapes. She will release her major-label debut, True Romance, on April 16th, followed by an extensive tour supporting Ellie Goulding across Europe and then Marina and the Diamonds in the U.S.

Disclosure

Courtesy AM Only

6

Disclosure

After making a name for themselves with remixes for acts including Crystal Fighters, Emeli Sandé and Jessie Ware, the U.K. brother duo Disclosure began releasing their own music on pulsing, electronic singles and EPs. The brothers, Guy and Howard Lawrence, have been working up to their first LP, a still-untitled collection due later this year on Island Records.

Parquet Courts

Ben Rayner

5

Parquet Courts

Like a modern version of the Modern Lovers, Brooklyn rockers Parquet Courts sing idiosyncratic songs about offbeat topics, which often seem to involve getting, or being, stoned. For all their deadpan appeal, the band's music is deceptively complex on tunes that punctuate knotted riffs with bursts of noise – which isn't to say that their song "Stoned and Starving," from last year's Light Up Gold, won't end up being the simplest call-and-response anthem of SXSW.

Iggy and the Stooges

David Raccuglia

4

Iggy and the Stooges

Iggy Pop has been a force of nature for every minute of a career stretching back 45 years, which by itself makes him a must-see act. This year, though, he and the Stooges come to SXSW with just a few weeks left before releasing Ready to Die – their first album in 40 years with guitarist James Williamson, who last recorded with the Stooges on their landmark 1973 release Raw Power. The band offered a taste of the new music earlier this month with the single "Burn."

Vampire Weekend

Alternative Distribution Alliance

3

Vampire Weekend

After leaving SXSW in 2008 as one of the most talked-about bands at the festival, Vampire Weekend return this year a rather more seasoned group – and possibly just as talked-about. The New York rockers have an adventurous new album, Modern Vampires of the City, due May 7th, and while new songs have trickled out in wobbly audience-shot videos with murky audio, what better opportunity to hear the new music firsthand? 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Courtesy Press Here

2

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

It's been four years since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs last put out an album, but the New York art-punk trio are readying their fourth LP, Mosquito, for release on April 16th. In other words, there's an excellent chance some of the new songs, most of which they wrote in New Orleans, will make it into the band's Austin set list, given that they've been playing them in concert already. But even if they don't trot out the new jams, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are justly celebrated for their riotous live performances.

Natalie Maines

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

1

Natalie Maines

Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines has been busier as a parent and an activist than as a musician since 2007, when the chart-topping country trio went largely dormant. But Maines is back this spring with a new album, Mother, that's due out in May. The album, a rock record, pairs a handful of originals with covers of tunes by Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper and Pink Floyd, whose song "Mother" doubles as the title track.

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