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13 Must-See Musical Acts at SXSW: Sky Ferreira, Baauer, Kendrick Lamar, More

ince its debut in 1987, the Austin festival has exploded to include 2,5000 bands and the premieres of hit movies like Bridesmaids. Marlow Stern combs through SXSW’s massive list of performers for the ones you won’t want to miss.

South by Southwest has continued to grow since its debut in 1987 and now features film, television, and an interactive conference. Films like Bridesmaids and TV shows like HBO’s Girls have premiered at the festival. But the main draw is still the music. About 2,500 bands—culled from over 12,000 applicants—will perform from March 12 to 17 in over more than venues around Austin, Texas. In addition to established acts like Snoop Lion, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and a rumored performance by Justin Timberlake, many up-and-coming acts will make their mark at the fest. From Baauer, the DJ-producer behind the viral “Harlem Shake,” to model cum chanteuse Sky Ferreira, here are the most anticipated musical acts at this year’s SXSW.

George Pimentel/WireImage, via Getty

Sky Ferreira

The 20-year-old pop chanteuse has striking features—she’s of Native American, Brazilian, and Portuguese descent—which ultimately led to modeling gigs for the likes of Calvin Klein and Adidas. And while she grew up as a family friend of Michael Jackson’s, Ferreira’s musical oeuvre more closely resembles the New Wave pop of Blondie and Madonna. After signing with the label Parlophone in 2009, her debut studio album, I’m Not Alright, will finally see the light of day this spring. She’s released a series of EPs so far, including last year’s Ghost, which features the excellent pop anthem “Everything Is Embarrassing.”

Courtesy of Mixed Management

Baauer

Baauer is the DJ name of 23-year-old Harry Rodrigues. A native of West Philadelphia, Baauer released the dubstep single “Harlem Shake” in May 2012 on Diplo’s label Mad Decent, but this February the song exploded when a comedian known as Filthy Frank posted on YouTube a 30-second parody video of himself and his friends dancing along to it in funny costumes. The viral meme has since become a worldwide phenomenon, and people are now even being fired for making the zany clips. “Harlem Shake,” meanwhile, rose all the way to No. 1 on the singles charts, and the Brooklyn resident has scored a lucrative Las Vegas DJ residency.

Ben Rayner

Parquet Courts

This Brooklyn-based punk-rock quartet formed in 2010 and released their debut LP, Light Up Gold, earlier this year to rave reviews. Andrew Savage and Austin Brown alternate vocals on 14 taut two-minute post-punk tracks filled with clever ruminations on life, love, and rock and roll. NME called Light Up Gold “one of the best debut albums you’ll hear all year,” while Spin said that “Parquet Courts’ over-the-top energy, speed, and succinctness makes the combination sound fresher than anything the original elements have managed in years.”

Rick Diamond/Getty

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth—or just Kendrick Lamar—is 25 and just coming into his own as an artist. After releasing four mixtapes and an independent album, the Compton, California, native’s first studio album, good kid M.A.A.D. city, was released on fellow Comptonite Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label late last year to near-universal acclaim. Lamar combines the lyrical dexterity and introspection of Tupac with the levity, catchiness, and quotables of Lil Wayne over atmospheric beats courtesy of Dre and Co. It’s a despairing yet beauteous concept album about struggling to make ends meet on the streets of Compton that warrants repeat listens. Lamar is one of the most exciting rappers to come along in years, recalling the halcyon rap days of the early ’90s.

Logan White

MS MR

This New York–based duo is comprised of Lizzy Plapinger (the MS), of the boutique electro-pop label Neon Gold, and Max Hershenow (the MR). Their soaring pop anthems, like the recent single “Fantasy,” are catchy as all hell, and the blue-haired Plapinger’s voice sounds like a mélange of Lana Del Rey’s sultriness and Florence Welch’s ebullience. They released their debut EP, Candy Bar Creep Show, last October, and their debut album, Second Hand Rapture, will be out in May. Meanwhile, you may have heard their song “Bones” play in the Season 3 trailer for the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Angel Ceballos

Foxygen

The shaggy-haired, California-based indie-rock duo of singer Sam France and guitarist Jonathan Rado combines ’60s psychedelic influences with good ol’-fashioned rock and roll. Their critically acclaimed sophomore album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is made up of nine joyous, fantastical songs that led Entertainment Weekly to write, “We just can't stop playing the scruffy psych-rock duo’s Rolling Stones-obsessed album with the appropriately exuberant title We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.”

Courtesy of The Windish Agency

Chvrches

Pronounced “Churches,” this Scottish electropop trio formed in 2011 and has released a few well-received singles, including the recent “Recover.” Cutesy singer Lauren Mayberry, previously of the band Blue Sky Archives, has a sharp, strident voice that cuts through the synth-y mix, and the group was named the fifth most anticipated act in the BBC’s annual Sound of 2013 new music list. They’ve toured extensively with Passion Pit, and their upcoming EP, Recover, will be released later this year.

Robin Little/Redferns, via Getty

Angel Haze

Raykeea Wilson, better known as Angel Haze, is a 21-year-old Brooklyn rapper signed to Universal’s Island record label. Haze raps frankly—and with a breakneck flow—about themes ranging from her childhood sexual abuse to her bisexuality. She displays an infectious braggadocio as Haze, spitting lines like, “I’m an undefeated bastard/My tongue is the fucking rapture,” while slowing down on some tracks for gentler introspection. She’s released four mixtapes so far, along with a diss track called “On the Edge” aimed at Azealia Banks, and debut album will allegedly come out later this year.

Courtesy of Fat Cat Records

PAWS

This Glasgow-based trio produces DIY lo-fi punk rock and has been steadily building buzz since forming in 2010. They’ve opened for everyone from the Dum Dum Girls to Wavves—and the group’s distorted vocals sound an awful lot like the latter. PAWS cites the Pixies as a major influence—they have a song called “Kim Deal” that pays homage to the Pixies’ bassist—and combine frenetic three-chord punk guitars with the aforementioned distorted vocals to create a blissfully chaotic sound. Their debut album should be released later this year on Fat Cat Records, but you can listen to their catchy single “Jellyfish” here.

Big Hassle Media

Haim

Haim is made up of sisters Este Haim, Danielle Haim, and Alana Haim. The group formed in Los Angeles in 2006, but just began officially releasing music last year. Frequently compared to Fleetwood Mac, they have opened for luminaries like Mumford & Sons and Florence and the Machine, and British taste-making music mag NME named their song “Forever” the No. 4 track of 2012. Their debut album should be released later this year on Polydor, but in the meantime you can check out their latest—incredibly addictive—single, “Falling.”

Jo Hale/Redferns, via Getty

Flume

Harley Streten is a 21-year-old electronic music producer from Australia whose self-titled debut album rose to No. 1 on the Australian album charts. Flume began producing music at age 13 after acquiring a “how to” production disc in a box of cereal (really). His fantastic recent track, “Left Alone”—featuring vocals by Chet Baker—sounds like an electro–Bon Iver. Give it a listen here.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Skylar Grey

At 27, Skylar Grey (born Holly Brook Hafermann) has already made a name for herself through various collaborations with high-profile artists. She co-wrote Eminem’s hit song “Love the Way You Lie” and sang the hooks on Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go,” Diddy-Dirty Money’s “Coming Home,” and Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor,” which she performed at the 2011 Grammys alongside Dre and Eminem. She changed her artist name from Holly Brook to Skylar Grey in 2010 and will release Don’t Look Down, her first album under the new moniker, later this year.

Josh Wehle

Joey Bada$$

Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott—or Joey Bada$$—is an 18-year-old Brooklyn rapper and member of the Pro Era hip-hop collective, which has drawn comparisons to Odd Future. He began writing poetry and songs at age 11 and later started posting rap tracks to YouTube, where he was discovered by Cinematic Music Group. The management firm that also handles Big K.R.I.T. contacted him through Twitter and signed him shortly thereafter. He’s opened up for Juicy J and is also featured on the track “1 Train” off A$AP Rocky’s recent album, Long.Live.A$AP. Despite rumors that he’d sign to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, Bada$$ remains independent, and will hopefully release his studio album later this year.