Buzzworthy Artists at SXSW 2020 Preview

by Susie Pulse

Note: You can also see our ‘101 artists to watch’ list at the bottom of the post.

While it can be hard to sift through the 2,000+ showcasing artists to pinpoint the “next big thing”, an identifiable pool of buzzworthy artists typically emerges before each SXSW. These artists are surrounded by a great deal of fan and media buzz. We examined a pool of artists garnering such attention and selected a talented group that we believe will continue to build momentum after SXSW. Take notice of these Top 10 Buzzworthy Artists that are well on their way to achieving wide-ranging success.

Soccer Mommy: Sophie Allison, a 22-year old Nashville native is the indie rocker known as Soccer Mommy. She’s toured with Vampire Weekend, Kasey Musgraves, and Liz Phair. She mixes hazy melodies with lyrics of youthful angst to produce a unique indie sound. (March 20: SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake, 7:30-8:15 pm)

Nasty Cherry: This 4-woman band, guided by their pop maven mentor CharlieXCX, generated a bevy of attention after appearing in the Netflix reality series “I’m With the Band”. However, they are far from a formulistic girl band that is gaga for fame. Rather, these ladies have a girl-boss, rock edge that will make you want to go buy Doc Martens and dip your hair in KoolAid. (March 16: Cedar Street Courtyard, 11:00-11:40. March 18: Empire Garage, time TBA. March 20: Seven Grand, 1:00-1:50 am)

99 Neighbors: A hip-hop collective of musicians, vocalists, DJs, rappers, and visual artists from Vermont. Their wide-ranging tunes are laced with innovation and supported by straightforward musical ability. (March 18: Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, 11:40 pm-12:20 am and March 19: The Parish 9:00–9:40 pm)

Margo Price: Price is a Nashville-based singer songwriter that received a best New Artist Grammy nomination last year. While many people in Austin, including Willie Nelson, have been fans of Price for years, we believe 2020 will be the year that the rest of the world takes notice of her brash lyrics and lovely voice. (March 19: Luck Reunion – tickets required, March 20: Radio Day Stage at Austin Convention Center, 4:00 – 4:30 pm and SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake, 8:40-9:40 pm)

Michigander: When vocalist and songwriter Michigander (real name Jason Singer) slows the roll one can hear a rawness reminiscent of the late Daniel Johnston. He pairs the honesty of his words and voice with uplifting lilts suggestive of Bleachers or Mt. Joy. Already on the playlist of many alternative stations, Michigander is cueing up for an explosive arena filling career. (March 19: Radio Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center, 4:00-4:40 pm)

Mir Fontane: Having already released tracks featuring Fetty Wap and Da Baby, this 26-year old already has one foot firmly planted in the limelight. Fontane has the winning rap trifecta; he can supply a melodic hook, spit a rapid-fire verse, and write story-telling lyrics. His songs are ripe with references to the harsh streets of his hometown of Camden, New Jersey. (Date and Venue TBA)

The Brother Brothers: This folk duo, that consists of identical twin brothers Adam and David Moss, produces stunning harmonies accompanied interwoven with calming strings. (March 13: Cooper’s BBQ, 8:00-8:40 pm)

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: This indie rock band lead by Thao Nguyen, generates spirited harmonies with hints of Vampire Weekend, yet more deconstructed. A new album is forthcoming later this year. (March 20: The Venue, 1:00-1:40 am)

Nicklas Sahl: Sahl, a Copenhagen native, has already found a following in Europe and for good reason. He is a young singer-songwriter that also has a full and expressive pop voice that is full of emotion. (March 18: The W Hotel, 5:00-5:40 pm and a second show March 18 at the Townsend, time TBA).

Ryan McMullan: A Northern Ireland native, 25-year old McMullan has a potent set of pipes that has attracted the attention of Ed Sheeran who referred to his voice as a “rare jewel” and tapped him to be his opening act. His debut album will be released this year. (March 18: Malverde, 8:00-8:40 pm, March 19: Cedar Street Courtyard 4:50-5:10 pm, March 21, W Hotel, 5:00-5:40 pm)


Perhaps the most appealing aspect of SXSW is its ability to propel relatively unknown artists into the spotlight. Many of these musicians are just starting to grow their fanbase, yet they have discernible talent with the potential to quickly boost them to the next level. Check out these “10 Promising New Artists” and you can tell your friend, “I saw them before they hit the big time.” :


Early James: His hauntingly raspy voice sings the stories of depression, addiction, and other raw topics – all told with poignant lyrics suggesting that his soul must be older than his 26-year old body. Signed and produced by Dan Auerbach, his music is an Americana blend of country and blues. This young man is “the real deal”. In fact, he has also been tapped to play Willie’s Luck Reunion show. See him now before his certain meteoric rise. (March 19: Luck Reunion – tickets required, and a show at The Continental Club, Time TBA)

Girl Skin: A six-piece folk-rock collective headed by frontman and songwriter Sid Simons is known as Girl Skin. The band pairs Simons’ delicate voice with many layers — an elegant chamber-like string accompaniment, vivid rock guitar, and even choral vocals — and all the pairings work. (March 20, 8:00-8:40 pm, The Townsend)

The Talbott Brothers: Last year, Rolling Stone Magazine named their latest single “Run No More” one of the “Top 10 Best Americana Songs to Hear Now”. This harmonic brother duo, made up of Tyler and Nick Talbott, wrap their dark but powerful voices inside a cozy familiar quilt of emotionally rousing Americana. (March 21: Stephen F’s Bar, 11:00-11:40 pm)

Reb Fountain: She’s been admired by fellow musicians for her award winning songwriter and singer for hire skills, but now Reb Fountain is spearheading her own project. Her latest release has an indie pop slant. Her upcoming self-titled album, produced in New Zealand by Crowded House’s Neil Finn, will be released in May 2020. (March 17, Cheer Up Charlies, 11:00-11:40 pm, March 19; Hotel Indigo, 5:00-5:40 pm; and March 20, Hilton Austin Downtown, 5:00-5:40 pm)

La Doña: This San Francisco native (real name Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea) is a singer, a songwriter and a trumpeter that interlaces together Caribbean Reggaeton and hip hop to create an infectious cross-genre sensation. (March 17, Mowhawk, 10:30-11:05 pm; March 18: Speakeasy, 9:00-9:40 pm)

Josiah Johnson: A former member and co-founder of the The Head and The Heart, Johnson returns with a solo project. His uplifting new single “The World’s Not Going to End” is the song we need now. His charismatic, hope-filled song will leave listeners craving more from Johnson. (March 18: Javelina, 8:00-8:40 pm)

CVLTE: This 4-man rock band from Japan has a 5 Seconds of Summer feel with Gary Lightbody-like vocals supplied by lead singer Aviel. CVLTE is about to release their sophomore album and their early release single “Falling Apart” is making people take notice. (March 21: Esther’s Follies, 10:00-10:40 pm)

Balming Tiger: This music collective is a K-hip-hop group (yes, that’s a thing!). Balming Tiger is a fun and creative crew that is not afraid to rhyme “Godzilla” with “armadillo”. Super unique and super fun too! (Continental Club, Date and time TBA)

Native Sun: If you’re ready to mosh, we have a band for you. Try on Native Sun’s brand of hositily-infused guitar buzzing rock-n-roll. Give a listen to singles “Juarez” and “Oedipus Rex” and see if you don’t agree that this band has the capability to reignite honest rock-n-roll. (March 19: Maggie Mae’s, 10:00-10:40 pm and March 21: Cheer Up Charlies, 11:00-11:40 pm)

Edan Archer: Her Spotify profile describes this Gainesville native’s music as alt-country having “swampy sensibilities” — and perhaps that’s an apt description. Her sultry honky-tonk sound fills a hole in our hearts that’s been empty since Alannah Miles sang “Black Velvet”. (March 18, Coopers BBQ, 11:00-11:40 pm)


Austin101 Magazine’s “101 To Watch at SXSW”

99 Neighbors
Ailbhe Reddy
Baby Rose
Balming Tiger
Black Lips
Bourgeois Mystics
Brian Fallon
Bridget Kelly
Caroline Rose
Cassper Nyovest
Christina La Rocca
Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express
Curtis McMurtry
Dead Horses
Dead Poets Society
Deanna Wheeler
Declan J. Donavon
Delta Spirit
Demi Grace
Devon Gilfillian
Drinking Boys and Girls Choir
Early James
Edan Archer
Electric Fields
Fenne Lily
Ferreck Dawn
Free Radicals
Ghetto Kumba
Gina Sicilia
Girl Skin
Grace Pettis
Hamilton Leithauser
Hariah Mighty
Harleight Blu
Honey Harper
Jackie Venson
Jadu Heart
Jeff Lofton
Jenny Lewis
Jimni Abduls
Josiah Johnson
JP Saxe
Katie Pruitt
Kyle Craft
La Dona
Laundry Day
Laura Cantrell
Lesly Rehhagg
M. Ward
Margo Price
Max Frost
Milky Chance
Mir Fontane
Modern Love Child
Naked Giants
Nasty Cherry
Native Sun
Naya Ali
Neal Francis
Neon Dreams
Nicklas Sahl
Noya Rao
Reb Fountain
Renni Rucci
Ringo Deathstar
Ryal McMullen
Sarah Klang
Savannah Sgro
Shelley King
Sir Woman
Soccer Mommy
Soul Asylum
Spooky Mansion
Sport Team
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
The Brother Brothers
The HamiTones
The Talbot Brothers
The Teeta
Tone Royal
Tre Burt
Walshy Fire
Whitney Rose
Wiley from Atlanta

Categories: COOL MUSIC, music festivals