Starting this weekend in Austin, Texas, the land of breakfast tacos and Lone Star Beer, there will be no shortage of great live music. South By Southwest is now a mainstay in contemporary pop culture – one that even here, in our own wonderfully noisy city, manages to make a hullabaloo. This year in particular, there are dozens of New York City bands making the trek south to perform in a town full of music lovers, all waiting to be wowed.
In honor of this brief winter foray, let’s musically teleport ourselves out of the polar vortex and into sunglasses and sandals and take a listen to some great New York-based bands playing at SXSW 2014.
It’s no secret by now that we love Wet – they are serious band crush material. This NYC trio marries the best kinds of sounds right now in music – electronic production that is at once minimal and intellectually complex paired with floaty female vocals. Their standout single “Dreams” has all the makings of an indie pop hit, and their SXSW shows will likely be the last chance to earn bragging rights: “Oh yeah, no big deal, I saw Wet before they blew up.”
Boasting birthplaces in Indonesia and Australia, Melati Malay and Isaac Emmanuel make up Young Magic, a Brooklyn-based electronic band preparing to release their sophomore album. This duo crafts forward-thinking music that’s deliciously sexy and heady at the same time. Their live performance is arresting, creating a swirling wall of sound you’ll get lost in. On their new album, Malay has really grown into her voice, and the once-buried reverb heavy vocals are front and center, a unique & refreshing take on the saturation of hip hop and R&B floating around right now. Visit their website to hear a track from their next album, or click play below to hear their new track, Fall In, from their upcoming album Breathing Statues, out May 6th.
Imagine for a moment that The Velvet Underground were originally from South America (Uruguay, to be specific) but currently living in Queens. Welcome to the world of Juan Wauters, who is also a member of garage-folk mainstays The Beets. Wauters just released his first album for Brooklyn-based record label Captured Tracks, and sings like he’s got the world figured out. After listening to his music, we’re pretty convinced he does. With timeless and cool song structure and vocal delivery – which is sometimes in Spanish – Wauters is creating quite possibly the most interesting folk music in New York City right now, and his live performance is complemented by raw light bulbs that ebb and flow with the guitar strums. His world is further aesthetically immersive, with decorative hand drawn cloths that boast more of Wauters’ art and vibes. Seeing his performance at SXSW will basically be like you’re at The Factory in 1969, except this time you’ll be enjoying margaritas and Texas BBQ.
Hey there sugar, do you like to dance? Jonathan Toubin will be your golden ticket to fun times during SXSW. Toubin has made a name for himself hosting New York Night Train & Soul Clap Dance parties for years here in New York City, and subsequently around the entire world. His DJ sets showcase a unique brand of crate digging for amazing soul, funk and R&B 45s. It’s recommended to mix up your SXSW week with a performer who makes you want to cut a rug, so get ready to move your feet on the dance floor. Prepare yourself with one of his New York Night Train mixes below.
Right now NYC’s ASTR is probably most well known for their cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home,” a playful gender-reversed version with songstress Zoe Silverman’s vocals at the forefront. We’re expecting big things from this band in 2014, since they’re already riding so much buzz ahead of releasing their first proper album. Their new single “R U With Me” is one of our favorite new songs, and is sure to be a summer anthem. Later this year they’ll be opening Lana Del Ray’s tour, but you can catch them first at SXSW.
– Alex Rose