SXSW 2012: 10 Acts To Watch

SXSW 2012: 10 Acts To Watch

There are thousands of bands that will be hitting stages around Austin, Tex. during SXSW 2012. These are the 10 acts absolutely not to miss.

While Austin will be crawling with unproven artists looking for an iota of buzz, these 10 acts head down to SXSW with proven performing credentials and enticing material. From Grimes' indie-inflected mall pop to Mr. Muthaf*ckin eXquire's hip-hop shenanigans, check out these soon-to-be-household-names when they rock the desert this week.

SXSW 2012: Main Page

Key SXSW Gig: Billboard Showcase, ACL Live on Wednesday (3/14) Full details here.

Poliça's brand of psychedelic R&B has had blogs buzzing since the band's debut album "Give You the Ghost" hit in late 2011 (the fact that Bon Iver's Justin Vernon proclaimed the Minneapolis quartet the best band he's ever heard provided instant street cred). The nine SXSW shows Poliça has booked -- including Wednesday night's Billboard showcase where they'll open for pop and soul icon Lionel Richie -- will make sure everyone in Austin has a chance to fall under their rhythmic spell.

Alabama Shakes
Key SXSW Gig: Girls Rock Camp/Maurices/PlayNetwork Showcase, Easy Tiger Patio on Friday (3/16)

These Athens, Ala. rockers are defined by their intense live atmosphere, spearheaded by frontwoman Brittany Howard, who combines the energy of Janis Joplin and the soul of Aretha Franklin. The group hit the "Conan" stage in February, and will release its debut album, "Boys & Girls," on April 10 through ATO Records.

Gary Clark Jr.
Key SXSW Gig: WFUV Showcase, Austin Convention Center on Friday (3/16)

Austin locals are already familiar with the awesomeness of Gary Clark Jr. The hometown hero has been brandishing his potent mix of rock, soul and blues at local haunts for years. Since releasing his first EP in 2010, he's shared the stage with guitar greats such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, but SXSW 2012 is Clark's chance to bypass second billing and emerge as the great new voice of rock n' roll.

Action Bronson
Key SXSW Gig: Life or Death PR Showcase, Lustre Pearl on Wednesday (3/14)

One of the best decisions Action Bronson did was trade in the cooking utensils for the mic. The ex-chef, whose rap skills have been compared to Wu-Tang's Ghostface Killah, has released four mixtapes and two albums within two years and is scheduled to open up for 50 Cent at the Shady Records SXSW showcase on Friday, March 16.

Key SXSW Gig: Conflict Of Interest Showcase, Hype Hotel on Tuesday (3/13)

Brad Oberhofer -- the latest artist to emerge from the mighty Glassnote Records imprint -- is still honing his 21-year-old chops. But after a string of dates opening for Sleigh Bells, Twin Sister and Neon Indian, the Tacoma, Wash. native and his band of quirky indie-poppers are ready to take Austin by storm with their expansive instrumentation and charming, unpredictable song structures, prepping the music world for the release of their debut album on March 26.

Kendrick Lamar
Key SXSW Gig: S.O. Terik showcase, Clive Bar on Thursday (3/15)

From the XXL Magazine 2011 Freshmen Class cover to recently signing with Dr. Dre's Aftermath, the West Coast rapper has come a long way within just a year. If you missed out on his recent infamous sold out show at NYC's SOBs, Kendrick plans to floor Austin with his highly-addictive mixtape, "Section.80."

Mr. Muthaf*ckin esquire
Key SXSW Gig: Thrasher Magazine showcase, Scoot Inn on Saturday (3/17)

The unhinged Brooklyn rapper's 2011 mixtape, "Lost in Translation," included "The Last Huzzah," which paired his audacious delivery with MCs like El-P, Das Racist and Danny Brown and became one of the year's most indelible posse cuts. With a propensity for bringing a dozen of his buddies onstage and not giving a damn if the crowd is feeling his live show, expect an unforgettable night when eXquire rolls into town.

Cloud Nothings
Key SXSW Gig: 512 Rooftop on Thursday (3/15)

Rock fans who prefer their indie on the lo-fi tip need look no further than Cleveland's Cloud Nothings. Mixing gritty punk passion with infectious pop sensibilities (a la "Kerplunk"-era Green Day), the quartet earned raves for their third album, 2012's "Attack on Memory." The band's cred will continue to swell in Austin, where they will strut their angsty stuff at six shows during SXSW.

Key SXSW Gig: Pitchfork showcase, Central Presbyterian Church on Thursday (3/15)

With the release of her third album, "Visions," on the 4AD label, Canadian art-pop songstress Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, continues the momentum she's been feeling for the past two years. Her SXSW appearance follows performances with artists like Lykke Li and Washed Out in 2011.

Danny Brown
Key SXSW Gig: Fader Fort on Wednesday (3/14)

Danny Brown's time has been long overdue. The witty Detroit rapper stepped into the game in 2007 with his mixtape "Detroit State of Mind." Fast forward to five years later and Brown is on magazine covers, has two highly praised albums under his belt ("The Hybrid" and "XXX") and will rock every other show at this year's SXSW.

SXSW 2012: Main Page