Leon Bridges

Photo Credit: Joanna Levine | Daily Texan Staff

South By Southwest is all about being at the right place at the right time. 

Decide to venture out and check out a new venue? Good call — you might find yourself listening to the next big thing while standing in a crowd full of people you’ve only ever seen in magazines. On the other hand, miss a band your friends are buzzing about, and you’ll be hearing about it for years to come once that same group hits it big a year later. 

To maximize your chances of experiencing one of those classic “SXSW moments,” check out some of the festival’s free multiday parties. Here are four events you don’t want to miss.

The Spotify House

Spotify’s six-day party, which opens on Sunday, will be the premier experience for music lovers. Last year’s event featured Hozier and Vance Joy. This year’s lineup is equal, if not greater, in magnitude. 

Headlining the party on Monday is one of rap’s hottest duos, Run the Jewels. El-P and Killer Mike released Run the Jewels’ second studio album, Run the Jewels 2, in August, and it quickly earned critical acclaim. Featuring booming voices and abrasive production, the songs on RTJ2 feel like they were created with live performances in mind.

Up-and-coming artists are everywhere at SXSW, but Leon Bridges stands out amongst the crowd. Just a summer ago, Bridges worked as a dishwasher. Late last year, he signed with Columbia Records — and now he is working on his debut album. Bridges’ blend of soul, gospel and folk music will leave a lasting impression on attendees. Don’t miss his performance Wednesday.

RSVP on their website, spotifyhouse.com, for a chance to join the party.

Pandora Discovery Den

Although the night shows require a badge, Pandora’s four-day event, which begins Wednesday, boasts an abundance of free daytime shows. 

SZA’s blend of soul and minimalist R&B has made her one of the premier artists in R&B, and her show Thursday will highlight her obvious talent.

Indie rock band Palma Violets, performing March 21, will be another can’t-miss free performance. This London-based band broke out in 2012 with “Best of Friends” and released a solid debut album in 2013. Look out as they perform songs from their upcoming sophomore effort, Danger In The Club.

Waterloo Records

Having hosted the likes of Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Queens of the Stone Age, Waterloo Records’ reputation alone is justification for swinging by their free four-day event, which begins Wednesday.

Twin Peaks will perform the first day, and their garage rock style makes this set one of the most promising of the event. Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, who just released his debut solo album, Policy, will perform immediately after Twin Peaks’ set.

The highlight of the party will happen March 21, when Waterloo hosts Joey Bada$$. His raw talent and hardcore hip-hop sound make him one of rap’s biggest up-and-comers. Bada$$’s debut album B4.DA.$$ is one of the best of the year, and his live performance is unlikely to disappoint.    

No RSVP is required.

Hard Rock Presents: Culture Collide    

Last but not least is Hard Rock’s three-day event starting Thursday, which will feature the likes of BASECAMP and Son Little.

The best performance of the event will be on the March 20, when The Vaccines, recently arrived in America, take the stage. This UK band is known for having the best-selling debut album of 2011. Their exhilarating brand of rock will make for an unforgettable show.    

Elliphant’s performance on March 21 promises to surprise. The Swedish singer and rapper may be older than the average up-and-coming pop star, but her work with Skrillex and Dilpo have made her one of the most-talked names in pop.

Get into the day parties by RSVPing at culturecollide.com.

If you have two hours to spare, consider scrolling through South By Southwest’s official list of musicians performing over the course of the seven-day festival. If you only have five minutes, let us do the work for you — below, check out some of the festival’s standouts. 

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett is seconds away from joining the female rock goddess hall of fame. Barnett’s head-bobbing rock rivals the works of Debbie Harry, the Wilson sisters and Annie Clark. Her second album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, drops March 24. 

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Barnett writes and performs wordy, guitar-heavy songs with poetic elegance. The 26 year old churns out music filled with underappreciated literary techniques, including alliteration, thoughtful pacing and extended metaphors.   

Often times, Barnett uses her choruses as stanza breaks from her long-winded, spoken verses. “Pedestrian at Best,” the first single off her sophomore album, follows this structure with great success. Every word is clear and audible, magnifying each word’s meaning. 

In preparation for her album’s release, the Aussie will perform a number of shows during SXSW. Already an indie-rock darling, Barnett should find Austin and its relaxed hipster citizens welcoming. 

Similar artists — Angel Olsen, Waxahatchee, The War on Drugs

Where: Cedar Street Courtyard

  1. When: Thursday, March 19 12:00–1:00 a.m.
  3. Where: Radio Day Stage Austin Convention Center
  4. When: Friday, March 20 5:00–5:40 p.m.     

Listen now: "Pedestrian at Best," Courtney Barnett


Leon Bridges

No one does it like Leon Bridges. Bridges. a 24-year-old Fort Worth native, is the R&B soul singer Sam Cooke fans have waited for since the late artist’s death 50 years ago. All signs point to time travel, from his ’50s inspired outfits to his musical themes. 

With the help of Austin musicians and White Denim duo Austin Jenkins and Josh Black, Bridges produced his first album after signing with Columbia records — the same label that represents Louis Armstrong and Bob Dylan. The highly anticipated release is set for late summer. “Coming Home,” one of the two singles available for download, became a “Top 10 Most Viral Track” on Spotify after its release in February.

His performances are subtle and genuine. Bridges’ authenticity makes you question what he’s doing in 2015. His ease with the guitar and confident vocals give off the impression he would perform exactly the same way in front of his bathroom mirror as he would in front of the president. Tracks such as “Better Man” will make any girl blush before the chorus even starts. 

Artists you might like — Sam Cooke, Al Green, The Supremes

  2. Where: St. David’s Historic Sanctuary
  3. When: Friday, March 20 10:45–11:30 p.m.

Listen now: “Coming Home,” Leon Bridges


Christine and The Queens

The beautifully bilingual lead singer of Christine and the Queens, Héloïse Letissier, is France’s latest transplant. Her highly synthesized and layered pop hits blend English and French lyrics in a consumable way. In her moody song “Nuit 17 à 52,” about 20 percent of the lyrics are in English and the rest are in French.

In 2014, Letissier released her first full-length album, Chaleur Humaine, which topped the charts in Belgium and peaked at No. 2 in France. Most of her music is unavailable in the United States with the exception of iTunes and her official YouTube page.

Letissier’s synthpop songs and the accompanying artistic music videos haven’t gone unnoticed stateside. Marina and the Diamonds asked Christine and the Queens to open for their SXSW show.

Artists you might like — Marina and The Diamonds, Stromae, Phoenix

  2. Where: Empire Garage
  3. When: Saturday, March 21 10:00–10:50 p.m.

Listen now: "Nuit 17 à 52," Christine and the Queens


Max Frost

We all know that kid — the one who attends UT to please their parents but inevitably drops out to join the Austin music scene. Max Frost was that kid. In 2012, the singer left UT after studying English for two years and released the successful alternative hit “White Lies.” 

Not long after, his song caught the attention of the music industry. Frost signed with Atlantic Records, which produced his 2013 EP Low High Low. Beats Electronic, the company Dr. Dre co-founded, picked up “White Lies” for commercial use, and in 2013, Frost opened shows for Fitz and The Tantrums and Gary Clark Jr.

Frost has yet to completely formulate his music style, but if his 2014 release, “Let Me Down Easy,” is any indication, the 22 year old will be a force in the R&B pop music world. 

The Austin singer-songwriter has three performances planned and certainly a number of shows yet to be announced. 

Artists you might like — Dan Croll, Fitz and The Tantrums, Joywave

  1. Where: Parish
  2. When: Tuesday, March 17 12:00–12:40 a.m.
  4. Where: Stubbs
  5. When: Thursday, March 19, 9:00–9:40 p.m.
  7. Where: Victorian Room at The Driskill
  8. When: Friday, March 20 1:00–1:50 p.m.

Listen now: "White Lies," Max Frost


Check back on March 1 for our next installment of the DT Monthly Playlist. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter at @thedailytexan for great music reviews and recommendations all month long.