Primed 4 SXSW ’12

A dozen bands that will be more popular after playing shows next week in Austin
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  March 9, 2012

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BREAKING OUT Crafts Spells are ready to get past the New Order comparisons and stake their own claim to bouncy love-pop.
The headlines and posts for South by Southwest 2012 (the music portion of which this year runs March 14-18) have not only been fast and furious, but also packed with some serious celebrity appeal: Bruce Springsteen is performing in an intimate venue and arriving in Austin as a keynote speaker; Insane Clown Posse are repping juggalos and ensuring Clown News gets as many scoops as Pitchfork; the Jesus and Mary Chain are reuniting as the Band We're All Stoked About But Probably Passed On Last Time They Actually Played Our Own City During Their Heyday (but not me, I <3 them for real), and Fiona Apple is back to remind us what a polarizing pop star was like in the '90s. It hasn't even yet begun, but this year's SXSW is already shaping up to be a weird one. Even The-Dream, who wrote the biggest hits for Rihanna and Beyoncé, is ready for unmitigated hipster embrace.

And that's all well and cool. Because last year's agro-show — led by Odd Future — could have used a heady dose of dreamy music to mitigate the disruptive vibe. And it exists, once again, in the trenches.

Last year the lines up and down Sixth Street ran around corners and side streets to see indie-darlings like Yuck, Beach Fossils, Twin Shadow, and the Naked and Famous, all while the Fader Fort — always the go-to spot for emerging artists — remained the place to hang (last year Diddy came out and surprised the crowd during Lil B's headlining set, and the "secret" guest was DeYarmond Edison, the former band of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon).

But SXSW isn't Coachella or Lollapalooza or any other in-a-field-or-park festival where the "headliners" are the main attraction. Honestly, screw everyone mentioned in the lede up top — SXSW is the place to see your new favorite band playing Rusty Spurs or the Mohawk before the world, and maybe even the blogosphere, catches on. That's why everyone from writers to talent buyers to label owners to band managers swarm Austin for several glorious days in March — to schmooze, booze, and cruise, all in search of the Next Big Thing.

Of the thousands of bands ready to play Austin next week, here are a dozen we're digging: 12 bands that will emerge from SXSW way more popular than they are right now.

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