The 20 Bands You Can’t Miss at SXSW 2015

SXSW is the epicenter for music and musical discovery. Bands from all over the world take over downtown Austin, TX playing anywhere from parks and street corners to bars and bicycle shops. The High Voltage team will be there promoting our brand, supporting our favorite bands and uncovering the next artists, films, products and social media trends to feature on the pages of High Voltage Magazine. Who will we run into on the street for our guerilla-style interviews? Where will we find the best BBQ? Which showcases will have us walking miles across town? Keep tabs on the website for daily video recaps and more SXSW goodies.

And since one can’t approach a festival of this magnitude without a little preparation, we thought we’d help you narrow down your options. Here are the 20 bands you can’t miss at SXSW 2015, a mix of High Voltage approved bands both big and small as well as acts we hope to learn more about.



1. Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile comes to Austin with a brand new album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, her first since 2012’s Bear Creek.  The alt-country singer is only playing one show, a very special unamplified set as part of her Pin Drop Tour (name is self-explanatory). With new songs like the stirring single, “The Eye”, this one set is bound to be one of the most memorable of the week. @brandicarlile

2. Fatherson
Going from unassuming folk act to explosive rockers within the span of a song is part of the appeal of Glasgow’s Fatherson. The trio released their debut album, I Am an Island, last summer. @fathersonband

3. Irontom
Last year, Irontom released an eccentric music video for their song “The Minister” featuring a cameo from Charlie Sheen as well as a daring cover of Gorillaz “Feel Good Inc.” which included a dynamic, mid-song rock break down.  Their sets are explosive and not to be missed. @IrontomBand

4. Spoon
The relatively veteran rockers (and Austin natives) released their 8th studio album last year. They Want My Soul produced several charting hits and its acclaim and appeal make Spoon just as exciting, if not more so, than all the up and comers playing SXSW this year. Seeing bigger bands like Spoon in more intimate and unique settings is one of the greatest pleasures of SXSW! @spoontheband



5. Taymir
Taymir may be from The Netherlands, but their sound falls squarely in the British pop realm. Their insanely catchy single, “Aaaah” is representative of the fun, poppy feel of the band. Just beware, if you see this band, you will end up dancing (we know because we did at 2014’s LA Culture Collide Festival). @TaymirMusic

6. James Bay
James Bay is the type of singer-songwriter who could change lives with his voice so silky and mesmerizing. SXSW 2015 might be the last chance to see the British bard in an intimate setting as his debut album, Chaos and the Calm, will come out at the end of March and his popularity is sure to explode (think Hozier). @JamesBayMusic

7. Dear Boy
This is the second SXSW for LA alt-rockers Dear Boy (whom you may recall as a previous High Voltage On the Rise artist). Riding high off their latest single, “Hesitation Waltz”, Dear Boy comes to Austin to share their bittersweet rock anthems with a growing legion of fans. @dearboyofficial

8. Highly Suspect
One listen to Highly Suspect’s song, “Bath Salts”, and your head will be banging. This Brooklyn rock trio make music that will turn heads with its power, grit, and hooks. This is the kind of band you want to listen to turned up to 11. @Highly_Suspect

Dead Sara

Dead Sara

9. Jared & The Mill
For those missing the old Mumford & Sons sound, Jared & The Mill have it all, sweeping songs laden with harmonies, sing-alongs and banjo. Listen to their song “Breathe Me In” and imagine a room full of people singing and dancing along with their hands in the air. @JaredandTheMill

10. Dead Sara
We love Dead Sara, so much so we put them on the cover of a previous issue (Spring 2012). And those familiar with the hard rock of LA’s Dead Sara know what a big deal it is that their second album, Pleasure to Meet You, is slated to be released later this month. This band, led by the indomitable voice of Emily Armstrong, is known to whip a crowd into a frenzy and bring the house down. Arrive early for their set, for sure. @deadsara

11. Green River Ordinance
With a passionate fan base and over a decade worth of songs, Texas band Green River Ordinance may not be the up and coming buzz band, but the coundutry rockers will be sure to capture your heart and make you smile. Hearing songs like the catchy “It Ain’t Love” and the country hit “Dancing Shoes” performed live is well worth tracking the band down in the midst of the SXSW chaos. @GRO

12. Dustin Kensrue
Front man for the post-hardcore band, Thrice, Dustin Kensrue shows a softer side in his solo album out April 21st. Take a listen to the album’s single, “Of Crows and Crowns” and become intoxicated by the gravelly voiced rocker serenading over a delicate piano. @dustinkensrue

13. Walking On Cars
Irish rock band, Walking On Cars has been making a splash in their native Ireland. Songs like their recent single, “Always Be With You”, are marked by pulsating beats and yearning lyrics, bound to captivate. The band is poised to release their debut album in 2015. @WalkingOnCars

Walking On Cars

Walking On Cars

14. Elle King
Elle King sings charming songs with a bluesy edge and the swagger of a rock star.  Be sure to catch her performing songs off her recent album, Love Stuff. @ElleKingMusic

15. Catfish and the Bottlemen
Rising Welsh indie rockers, Catfish and the Bottlemen, are bound to be that band you’ll be kicking yourself for not seeing when you had the chance. Their 2014 debut, Balcony, boasts a seductive blend of gritty rock and catchy pop. It’s easy to see why their sell out shows are becoming can’t miss events. @thebottlemen

16. Mallory Knox
File Mallory Knox under “bands that never seem to come to the US”. This UK alt-rock outfit have released two albums in the last three years. They play the kind of hard hitting yet melodic gems that have the ability to transport in a live setting. One of the best aspects of SXSW is that the fest allows you to see your favorite international bands that might not do too much touring in this country. @MalloryKnoxband

17. Jay Nash and Josh Day are The Contenders
Singer-songwriter Jay Nash has one of those voices that bring out all the feels. In 2014, he released a country-tinged EP with Josh Day as We Are The Contenders. The duo create whiskey fueled tunes that go straight to the heart, the kind of songs that will provide the perfect respite from a crazy day running around from rock show to rock show. @Jay_Nash @Jdaydrum

18. Young Rising Sons
Young Rising Sons is a band from New Jersey with an incredibly infectious song called “High”. Press play and it is impossible not to sing and clap along. It’s also impossible not to have this band on our list of must see acts at SXSW. @youngrisingsons

Charles Hamilton

Charles Hamilton

BØRNS, AKA Garrett Borns, has the great distinction of being the current High Voltage On the Rise artist pick. His delectable debut EP, Candy, offers a taste of what the electric/pop/glam artist is capable of, suggesting a SXSW set is a must. @bornsmusic

20. Skyroads
If you want your new favorite electronic dance band, look no further than Skyroads. This Israeli band features an interesting interplay of male and female vocals in songs that could be labeled dance tracks but still maintain an element of more traditional alt rock songs. @skyroadsband

Honorable Mention: Charles Hamilton is making his big return at SXSW, his first single back “New York Raining” ft. Rita Ora gives Jay-Z and Alicia Keys a run for their money. See Charles in an intimate setting while you still can! @charleshamilton