South By Southwest is the annual retreat where artists, music fans and the industry descend upon Austin, Texas, from all over the globe to discover new music and celebrate music they already love. SXSW is widely known as a launching pad for artists of all genres and sounds. In years past, M.I.A. started dance parties with her rebellious alt-pop, Amy Winehouse unloaded her signature modern soul sound and the White Stripes blasted barbecues with their fresh blues-inspired punk.
So, what sounds will stand out at SXSW this year? We’ve curated a diverse lineup, from sad rap to alt R&B to emo to funkwave.
Here, we’ll take you through all 32 artists performing on the Pandora stage (Tues-Thurs, Mar. 13-16, at the Gatsby), highlighting some of their key musical traits according to Pandora’s Music Genome, which assigns 450 musical attributes to each song. But, don’t worry … we’re keeping it to five.
Who: “Indie folk” guitarists Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper have been writing songs together since high school, more than a decade ago. Though Cooper has a law degree and Quinn has worked in music management, they put their “legit” careers on hold and formed a full band when their first single, “Astrovan,” took off.
Fun Fact: Quinn and Cooper agree that their all-time favorite record is the Allman Brothers Band’s At Fillmore East.
Played on Pandora With: The Head and the Heart, Hippo Campus, Lord Huron
Who: The folk songwriter born Elizabeth Anne Odachowski is set to release her third album, Fine But Dying, just in time for this year’s SXSW. She now lives in Nashville.
From: St. Simons Island, Ga.
Fun Fact: Two of Liza Anne’s biggest inspirations are her aunt, who is a painter, and her husband, who builds his own guitars.
Played on Pandora With: Daughter, Little May, The Wind and the Wave
Who: Adam Alexander grew up singing at his grandfather’s baptist church — where his father was the bandleader — and now releases Gospel-influence electro-pop under the name DemoTaped.
Fun Fact: Alexander had planned on becoming a filmmaker before releasing his Heart EP.
Played on Pandora With: Amir Obe, Miguel, Glass Animals
Who: Elley Duhé grew up in a musical family in coastal towns in Mississippi and Alabama, jamming with her father and her uncles. After struggling to find her own sound–Was she pop? Was she hip hop?–she scored a viral hit with her first single, “Immortal.” Now she’s signed to RCA.
From: Gulf Coast
Fun Fact: Duhé performed on The Voice in 2012
Played on Pandora With: Sabrina Claudio, SZA, H.E.R.
Who: Born Jared Lee, this fashion-conscious pop-hip-hop artist released his debut album, I’m Uugly, in 2016, and followed it up last year with an XTRA UUGLY Mixtape. He calls his unique style of music “funkwave.”
From: Los Angeles
Fun Fact: Duckwrth describes his own sound as the “musical lovechild” of Pharrell and Andre 3000.
Played on Pandora With: Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Childish Gambino
Who: This indie singer-songwriter got his break when his homemade demo caught the attention of No Doubt’s Tom Dumont, who offered to record him. Costa’s infectious 2007 tune “Mr. Pitiful” appeared everywhere from an Apple commercial to the Paul Rudd movie I Love You, Man. Santa Rosa Fangs is his first official studio album in five years.
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Fun Fact: Costa recorded the soundtrack for the 2016 Netflix documentary Orange Sunshine, the true story of a hippie cult that became a huge trafficker of psychedelics.
Played on Pandora With: Iron & Wine, The Shins, Ben Harper
Who: Originally from Minnesota, Caitlyn scored a Number One hit when Meghan Trainor and John Legend recorded her song “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” in 2015. Smith released her own debut record, Starfire, in January.
Fun Fact: Smith is a co-founder of Girls of Nashville, a quarterly showcase of undiscovered female talent in Music City.
Played on Pandora With: Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves
Who: Born in South Carolina, honky-tonker Nikki Lane lived in L.A. and New York before settling in Nashville, where she belongs. Dan Auerbach produced her second album; her third, Highway Queen, came out in early 2017.
Fun Fact: Lane runs a vintage clothing shop in Nashville called High Class Hillbilly.
Played on Pandora With: Margo Price, Neko Case, First Aid Kit
Who: Willie Nelson’s son and his band have been together for a decade, but it was Neil Young who helped shape their sound, which lands somewhere between country and rock ’n’ roll. Promise of the Real have toured and recorded as Young’s backing band over the last few years.
From: Southern California
Fun Fact: Nelson wrote songs with Lady Gaga for her upcoming remake (with Bradley Cooper) of A Star Is Born. POTR will appear in the movie as Cooper’s backing band.
Played on Pandora With: Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton, Merle Haggard
Who: Nathaniel Rateliff had been knocking around in various Denver bands since the early 2000s, when he put together a soulful album for the classic Stax label in 2013. He claimed it was his last attempt at a career in music, but its breakout success has led to budding stardom for the 39-year-old.
Fun Fact: Rateliff, who grew up in rural Missouri, moved to Colorado as a teenager to do missionary work.
Played on Pandora With: The Black Keys, The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes
Who: Twenty-year-old singer-songwriter Jade Bird hails from the U.K., but has charmed stateside audiences with her debut EP Something American. She was recently named one of Rolling Stone’s Top Country Artists to Watch.
From: Hexham, Northumberland, England
Fun Fact: Bird once recorded 13 songs in a friend’s bathroom. Those recordings landed her a management deal.
Played on Pandora with: First Aid Kit, Florence + the Machine, Feist
Who: Syml is the self-described melancholy solo project of Brian Fennell, frontman for indie rockers Barcelona. The project received an unlikely jumpstart in 2016, when “Where’s My Love” was featured in MTV’s Teen Wolf.
Fun Fact: “Syml” means simple in Welsh, a nod to Fennell’s ancestor homeland
Played on Pandora with: Bon Iver, Kaleo, Daughter
Who: Omar Banos began playing guitar at age eight, and he has since taught himself keyboards, drums, bass, trumpet and French horn. His languid, heart-on-sleeve indie pop songs, sung in a combination of English and Spanish, have earned the 19-year-old a fast-growing social media following.
From: Hawthorne, Calif.
Fun Fact: His Twitter handle is @Icryduringsex.
Played on Pandora With: Mac DeMarco, Tame Impala, Frank Ocean
Who: After being discovered on his friend Louisa Wendorff’s YouTube channel, where they performed a mashup of Taylor Swift songs together, Dawson released his debut album, Dark Horse, in January. He co-wrote all the songs on the album, including the chart hit “All on Me.”
From: Orangevale, Calif.
Fun Fact: The romantic singer, who moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University, got his start in a death metal band.
Played on Pandora With: Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown, Florida Georgia Line
Who: Alabama native Walker Hayes got his start as a country songwriter long before he released “You Broke Up With Me,” the single that took him from country hopeful to one of the most promising artists in the genre.
From: Mobile, Ala.
Fun Fact: After losing a deal with Capitol Records in 2011, Hayes took up the graveyard shift at Coscto before singer-songwriter Shane McAnally gave him a second chance.
Played on Pandora With: Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt, Old Dominion
Who: Calling their music “global pop,” Salt Cathedral’s Juli and Nico mix organic and electronic textures to create a new kind of tropical soundscape. Their debut album, Big Waves/Small Waves, features guest appearances from Matisyahu and Jamaican legend Lee “Scratch” Perry.
From: New York City (via Colombia)
Fun Fact: The band’s name refers to an underground Roman Catholic church built in the tunnels of a salt mine in Colombia.
Played on Pandora With: Maggie Rogers, The XX, Grimes
Who: Saweetie nearly broke the Internet when she dropped her debut “ICY GRL” last year. While attending USC, she got her start in music by covering other artists, such as A$AP Rocky. Her upcoming debut EP marks the first time she has focused on original music, she says.
From: Bay Area
Fun Fact: With no money for studio time, Saweetie posted her first recordings after making them in her car. She calls them her “car raps.”
Played on Pandora With: Cardi B, Cuban Doll, Kodak Black
Who: After releasing two critically acclaimed EPs, Ethiopian-American alternative R&B singer Kelela Mizanekristos made her formal debut with her first full-length album, Take Me Apart, in October. The album landed on several Best of 2017 lists including Pitchfork, Complex and Billboard.
From: Washington, D.C.
Fun Fact: While Kelela’s known for her electronic R&B, she actually got her start singing in a progressive metal band called Dizzy Spells.
Played on Pandora with: SZA, Banks, H.E.R.
Who: Though Tinashe Jorgensen Kachingwe is just 25, she’s already been in the performing world for years. Once a child actor and model, she sang in a girl group and released a few mixtapes before signing with RCA. Her long-awaited third album, Joyride, is due in April.
From: Los Angeles
Fun Fact: Tinashe’s name means “We are with God” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe.
Played on Pandora With: Jhené Aiko, Drake, Beyoncé
Who: Born Rayshawn Lamar Bennett to Jamaican immigrants, Lucci first found fame through his mixtapes. His single “Key to the Streets,” which features Migos, was picked by both XXL and Vibe as one of the best songs of 2016.
Fun Fact: Lucci’s hit “Everyday We Lit” was used in the 2017 season premiere of HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Played on Pandora With: Kodak Black, Kevin Gates, Future
Who: Born in Chicago and raised in Miami, 20-year-old Omar Pineiro is a member of a new class of rappers who are eschewing the sounds of traditional hip-hop. After finding viral success with 2016’s “Ski Mask,” Smokepurpp’s September mixtape Deadstar — his first commercial release — hit #42 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
Fun Fact: While Smokepurpp listened to a lot of 50 Cent growing up, in an interview with XXL he revealed he also enjoyed his fair share of metal, particularly Disturbed and Slipknot.
Played on Pandora With: Lil Pump, XXXtentacion, Playboi Carti
Who: This 21-year-old Cali rapper is one of the leaders of what The New Yorker calls “sad rap.” His popularity broke wide open last summer when he released the video for his hit song “Betrayed.”
From: Redlands, Calif.
Fun Fact: “Xan” is short for Xanax, but don’t make any assumptions. As a former addict, Lil Xan is staunchly anti-Xanax, and often uses his platform to speak about the dangers of drug abuse.
Played on Pandora With: Lil Skies, Lil Uzi Vert, Post Malone
Who: Mixing punk, psychedelic and a bit of dream pop into one, this New York band made noise with their 2016 debut album, Human Ceremony, and have another one on deck with Twentytwo in Blue, set for a March 23 release.
From: New York City
Fun Fact: Their name was inspired by guitarist Nick Kivlen’s love for sunflower seeds and drummer Jacob Faber’s affinity for coffee.
Played on Pandora With: Alvvays, Beach Fossils, DIIV
Who: Carolina Giraldo Navarro is a Colombian reggeaeton-pop singer who’s collaborated with the likes of Nicky Jam, Reykon and Bad Bunny.
From: Medellín, Colombia
Fun Fact: Navarro competed on El Factor X, Colombia’s version of X Factor, when she was just 14.
Played on Pandora With: Ozuna, Maluma, Shakira
Who: The enigmatic solo artist from the Long Island hamlet of Mattituck calls her spare, atmospheric music “moody pop.” Her debut EP, 17 Hero, was recently released on Epic Records.
From: New York City
Fun Fact: She studied fashion at Parsons School of Design.
Played on Pandora With: Billie Eilish, Marian Hill, Sabrina Claudio
Who: This folk-pop balladeer launched his career as part of the L.A.-based creative collective MSFTS, which includes Willow and Jaden Smith. Emotionally open in his music, Hudson gets some of his strength from the fact that he’s a cancer survivor, having beaten Stage 3 Hodgkins’ lymphoma.
From: Los Angeles
Fun Fact: Kanye West is a friend and fan.
Played on Pandora With: Bryson Tiller, SZA, Drake
Who: Led by singer-guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran, Pale Waves made an immediate splash with their debut single, “There’s a Honey,” in early 2017. Their Gothic synth-pop has drawn comparisons to the music of the Cure, and the band agrees.
From: Manchester, U.K.
Fun Fact: The 1975’s Matty Healy directed the video for the band’s second single, “Television Romance.”
Played on Pandora With: The 1975, LANY, BØRNS
Who: This New Orleans group blends jazz, funk and soul into one, led by the limber voice of frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball. The group grabbed national attention last year after beating more than than 6,000 artists to become the winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest.
From: New Orleans
Fun Fact: Tarriona Ball got her start as a slam poet.
Played on Pandora with: The Internet, Erykah Badu, H.E.R.
Who: After being nominated for six ARIA Music Awards in her native Australia, Amy Billings performed her hypnotic pop song “Adore” on The Late Late Show with James Corden last November. She’s headed to Europe after touring Canada and the U.S. Northeast.
From: The Gold Coast, Australia
Fun Fact: In her other life, Billings works as a video editor for the Gold Coast Titans professional rugby club.
Played on Pandora With: Halsey, Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey
Who: Wallows frontman Dylan Minnette is also an actor, having starred in the recent Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Formed with longtime friends, his indie-rock band is named for a famous skateboarding destination in Honolulu.
From: Los Angeles
Fun Fact: Guitarist Braeden Lemasters is also an actor. He appeared on Six Feet Under at age nine.
Played on Pandora With: Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Cage the Elephant
Who: Frontman James Alex leads this Philadelphia punk rock band, who made noise with their sophomore album, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. But now, things are a bit quieter, as Alex releases solo work under the name Quiet Slang, while also continuing work with the band.
Fun Fact: Alex says that the sound Beach Slang aim for is “if Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Fur sang for the Replacements.”
Played on Pandora With: Jawbreaker, Dinosaur Jr., Japandroids
Who: Chris Carrabba has been making emo music as Dashboard Confessional since 2000. The band’s third album, A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar, reached number two on the Billboard album chart. Their seventh, Crooked Shadows, came out in February.
From: Boca Raton, Fla.
Fun Fact: In 2011, Carrabba released a tour-only record with covers of songs by the Replacements, Dandy Warhols, John Prine and others.
Played on Pandora With: Death Cab for Cutie, Jack’s Mannequin, Blink-182