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SXSW 2014: 25 Must-See Acts

The shows everyone will be talking about once the dust (and BBQ sauce) settles

South by Southwest — the annual music-industry hob-nobber convention that brings together more bands than you could ever dream of seeing in a single city — starts on March 11th. Whether you're headed to Austin or just rubbernecking on Twitter, here's the 25 shows people will be talking about when the dust settles.

By Gavin Edwards, Will Hermes, Christian Hoard and Nick Murray

Courtesy Backspin Promotions

DJ Rashad

Why You Can't Miss Him: The mastermind of Chicago footwork exploded the scene's profile and flavor palette with last year's deep, fractured, soul-jazzy Double Cup, released by the tastemaking avant-bass U.K. label Hyperdub. But of course, he makes his real magic in da club.

Pooneh Ghana

Cloud Nothings

Why You Can't Miss Them: The first single from their next album (due in April), "I'm Not Part of Me," suggests that after five years as a band, this Cleveland trio have found the perfect balance between a spiky guitar attack and melodies as sticky as warm peanut butter.

Dan Curwin

Charli XCX

Why You Can't Miss Her: Because this 21-year-old Brit was the brains behind Icona Pop's megahit "I Love It" — and she wants to use that success to get weird, not to churn out assembly-line pop hits. Live, she's a hair-flipping, mic-eating super-performer.

Matthew Eisman/Getty Images

Chance the Rapper

Why You Can't Miss Him: Because he's got talent coming out of his ears. Released just two weeks after he turned 20, Acid Rap mixes up cartoon flows, Day-glo drug songs, showoff wordplay and rants about the media's indifference to Chicago's murder epidemic ("Where the Fuck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric up in here"). He'll roll into SXSW with a slew of post-Acid Rap gigs under his belt, including a stint opening for Eminem.

Lee Cherry


Why You Can't Miss Him: Because this Harlem rapper, who won "Rookie of the Year" at last year's BET Hip Hop Awards, always grabs your ears, even when he's just chanting "Shabba Ranks."

Linda Brown Lee

Damon Albarn

Why You Can't Miss Him: The forthcoming Everyday Robots is, remarkably enough, Albarn's first proper solo set. It's a handsome, meditative set, with cameos from Bryan Eno and Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan; expect previews alongside picks from his remarkably deep back catalog of group projects, Blur and Gorillaz included. 

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