Top 17 Acts I Saw at SXSW ’17

In between my own sets this year, I made sure to scope other new artists doing dope shit to get inspired, elevated and stoked about new music. Here is who I found, in no particular order.

1.  Dj Osh Kosh – I pulled up to Cheer Up Charlie’s on the one night I had off for SXSW, and heard everyone turning up inside the main bar. It was lit. I started dancing on my way over to the DJ booth to find DJ Osh Kosh casually slaying on the 1s and 2s. She was mad peaceful w too much swagger. She has been DJing since she was 11. Catch her when you’re next in LA.

2. The Paranoyds – This powerful lazepunk project from LA featured 3 front women rotating on guitar, bass and keys and a passionate male drummer rhythmically uplifting them. Each of the women had different personas that each took lead roles at different moments throughout the set. My favorite song is “Freak Out” because of how delicately and apathetically the vocals sit over heavy driving guitar lines.

The Paranoyds at Mohawk

3. Le Butcherettes – was mesmerized first by their drummer Alejandra Robles Luna, who owned the kit in a way that satisfied my soul and make me want to get back into my practice studio for hours. Then I was mesmerized by front woman Teri Gender Bender who wore all red, slayed between lead vocals and keys, lost her mind on stage and gave me faith in the longevity of rock n roll. Their project was so tight, passionate, liberating and important. See them now.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 9.51.21 PM
Terri Gender Bender and Ale Robles of Le Butcherettes at Mohawk

4. La Dame Blanche – Cuban flautist, percussionist and singer brought to life her project by celebrating her roots and preserving her family’s culture. She was bold, gifted and had a hold of her audience from start to finish. We went to Cuba spiritually together and back through her high energy, enchanting rhythms and deep passion.

5. The Regrettes – I heard about this bad ass teen band when I was on set last year in LA. The band’s front woman had such a grasp of modern feminism and inspired me so much by how well she incorporated bold feminist lyrics into her music. Seeing them live felt like Riot Grrrrrl had come to life again and I was grateful they existed in 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 9.53.58 PM.png
The Regrettes Live at the TOMS x Girlschool We Are One Showcase

6. Overcoats – I was mesmerized by how the singers held themselves so calmly and peacefully on the stage. It was so effortless. They gripped their mics with both hands and were very intentional. Despite being a young band, both members owned the stage as if they had been performing for decades. They were present. The music was electronic, peaceful, downtempo and lovely. They performed right when the sun went down and backyard lights came on at the TOM’s showcase, and the mood was incredible.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 9.54.49 PM.png
The Overcoats Live at TOMS Austin

7. Gizzle – When I was getting ready to go onstage at the Sheshreds showcase, I was immediately distracted by this dope MC going IN on the mic. I hadn’t heard so much truth being spit at SXSW in a long time. She was confident, talented, and the flows were so seamless. Her DJ vibed with her so well too. I loved when they went back and forth on certain lines. I was so inspired that by the end of it I had to jump on the drums and back her up. It was lit! My favorite song of hers on repeat right now is “Single and Poppin”!!!!!


8. Thelma and the Sleaze – also on the She Shreds lineup was this incredible five-piece all female rock band from Nashville. They were loud, powerful, tight, and pro. It was one of those things where you see them and you have tunnel vision about the future when they will be everywhere. They fell already felt like a household name. The future is female thanks to talented musicians like these.

9. Uniiqu3 – Jerzey Club Kween DJing, MCing, Vibe Conducting and teaching me how to dance at the PluggedIn SXSW showcase on Rainey Street. She sent me her song “The Anthem” for my set at The FADER Fort and it was LIT!!!!! When performers can bring their DJ sets to life, that is the sweet spot we should all aspire to.

10. Quiñ – Peaceful feminine fantasy soul artist with gorgeous vocals and melty production. “I am Quiñ, the magnificent, I am” she sings on my favorite song of hers. Catch her and her dope drummer and DJ opening for JSMN later this spring.

11. Zach Witness – Synth/production wiz, gorgeous stage design and performance art with 3 other singers/ artists, who did call and response, marched, politicized, danced and collapsed all in one show. It was by far the most genius live show I had seen at SXSW. The intersectionality on the stage represented the world I wish we lived in.

12. Kate Nash – I mean duh. I pulled up to her TOMS show right when she was playing “Foundation” with her girl band and I ran to the front row to sing all the verses. I melted when she covered “Bitch”, and when she spoke about how the industry is sexist but by supporting each other and being good at our instruments, people won’t fuck with us. Alicia Warrington held it down on drums. Kate’s red lipstick was everywhere. She is a gifted performer who makes every show feel so exciting, fun and high energy. Everyone has a smile on their face once Kate Nash has graced the stage.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 10.01.43 PM.png
Kate Nash at the TOMS x Girlschool SXSW Showcase

13. Chloe x Halle – enough said. These girls are 16 and 18 and signed to Beyoncé’s label Parkwood. They are powerful sisters who have a grasp on modern feminism and use their music to combat stereotypes. I was happiest to learn that they are not just vocalists, and did all the live triggering, live guitar and live instrumentation themselves on the stage. Seeing an Ableton Push in the hands of a 16-year-old woman of color gave me life. I am happy they are receiving so much support and attention, it is well deserved.

Grammy Brunch with Chloe x Halle

14. Maggie Rogers – Maggie was definitely the darling of SXSW this year, just as Leon Bridges was last year. She played on the best showcases, and was good at being present during each of the shows. I loved that she played an SPD pad on the stage, and has a beautiful quirkiness to her. She really seems to love the music she has created. For blowing up as quickly as she did, I felt she had an honest humility to her and sense of self on the stage.

15. Let’s Eat Grandma – I love when artists take bold and bizarre musical risks and it just works.  That’s what made seeing these two British girls so excellent – their haunting almost baby-like voices, their droney synths and their quirky stage personalities.

16. Suzanne Ciani – The synthesis boss of the last five decades owned the stage at the MoogFest SXSW showcase. It was like basking in a sea of sound. Somehow it felt like the sound was all around us in a 360 capacity, and she held our attention by projecting her work behind her so that we could see exactly what she was doing. Her focus directed all of her and the crowd’s energy directly into the machines she was working and therefore gave life to a machine. When I had worked with Floating Points, I was first introduced to the buchla, but no one brought it to life for me more than she did. I will be watching interviews of hers in the next couple weeks to learn how such an OG boss withstood being the only female in a world of aggressive tech male nerds, and how she makes tech sound like humanity.

17. Girlpool – When Girlpool took the stage at Mohawk, the the three front guitarists got into a huddle together, without addressing the audience, and wished each other a good show. It was beautiful. It felt instead that we as the audience were peering into their rehearsal, their world, their life, instead of them creating a show for us. It was so satisfying. Their music was beautiful and had a purity/ innocence to it, and the two women in the band were backed by the men on drums and bass. They had the audience cheering them from start to finish.