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SXSW 2015

The 18 Best Moments of SXSW 2015

From Halsey and Earl Sweatshirt to Iceage and Crayon Pop, here are latest and greatest from the madness in Austin

1 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Trash pop, garage punk, doo-wop power pop—whatever you want to call Tweens, the Ohio band has that swing. Frontwoman Bridget Battle's energy level rivals none, scream-singing her underground hits with a ferocity as pronounced as her dyed locks.

2 / 18

Earl Sweatshirt

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 20: Rapper Earl Sweatshirt performs onstage at the Spin Media party at Stubbs BBQ on March 20, 2015 in Aus
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

There were a few things that felt incredibly polite about Earl Sweatshirt's performance at Spin's daytime party: The young rapper performed for a tight 20 minutes, he was exactly on time and everyone in the crowd was terribly well-behaved. Earl spent most of his brief set smiling and pacing, as if already knowing he would deliver one of the best performances of the day. 

(And what a way to preview his brand-new album I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outsidewhich is streaming right here!)

3 / 18

Epik High

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 19: Tablo of Epik High performs onstage at KPop Night Out during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive F
Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW

Headliners Epik High closed out the third annual K-Pop Night Out showcase on Thursday evening, bringing Korean hip hop to Austin around 1AM. They're one of the biggest acts of their genre, and that became apparent the minute they uttered their first words. It was a true thrill to watch newbies to Korean popular music almost gasping in the afterglow.

Read more our full review of the K-Pop Night Out showcase right here!

4 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

There's no shortage of excellent guitar rock from Nashville (looking at you, Diarrhea Planet). Bully are especially refreshing, with their punk attitudes and those surprising saccharine hooks. At 1PM on a Thursday, they crammed a densely populated outdoor/indoor space to the rafters.

5 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

How to make your incredible showcase even more incredible: ADD MIGOS. The Atlanta rap trio closed out the second day of Pitchfork's SXSW parties, somehow managing to fit 20-some people on the Mohawk's outdoor stage. The crowd looked as though they were standing on each other's heads for a mere glimpse of the hot hip hop act, possibly in the most punk rock performance of the fest to date.

6 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

The Swedish post-punk band with the impossible to pronounce name made their SXSW debut yesterday while in the middle of their first U.S. tour ever. A few kids rocked the band's merch and parked themselves in front of the stage for hours before Makthaverskan were slated to play, watching within spitting distance of their greatness. At the beginning of the set, it was evident that they were anxious, but eventually loosened up as an unknowing crowd scream-singing "f*ck you!!" right along with them. It was a blissful moment of genuine excitement that even the biggest SXSW cynics had to enjoy.

7 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Girlpool have been personal favorites of ours for a while now, and it was a real treat to see them play one of their debut SXSW shows. The two best friends performed their stripped-down Liz Phair-esque tunes of vulnerability and empowerment while looking onto a gorgeous mountain side. Doesn't get better than that!

8 / 18

Crayon Pop

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 19: Crayon Pop performs onstage at KPop Night Out during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW

K-pop girl group Crayon Pop co-headlined K-Pop Night Out, all decked out in matching latex costumes. Their look has evolved since their viral smash "Bar Bar Bar," with the ladies opting for a more matured sensibility. Their choreography was impeccable, as if someone measured each inch of their arm extensions with a ruler.

Read our full review of the K-Pop Night Out showcase right here!

9 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Ceremony began as a powerviolence band, making their mark in the music world with lines like "I've got problems / I'm a f*cked up kid." They've since matured into Joy Division-heavy post-punk greats, complicating their once iconic sound with something more adult. If it has lost them any fans, it wasn't apparent at Brooklyn Vegan's Saturday showcase. Nothing like a mid-afternoon moshpit!

10 / 18

The Pop Group

Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

The Pop Group were a welcome change at SXSW 2015—the iconic British post-punk band are anything but a buzzed about act. The act started in 1977 and called it quits in '81 before reuniting a few years ago. At their last show of the week, they played between new punks Iceage and Ex-Cult and managed to hold their own. A great band possesses the energy of youth forever.

11 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Danish act Iceage are no strangers to SXSW. The band has played almost every year, always with total ferocity. On Saturday, frontman Elias Ronnenfelt wore what appeared to be a bondage belt as he sashayed this way and that, crooning over Nick Cave–style guitars. It was his church; no one left a non-believer.

12 / 18

Pity Sex

Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Much like their name, Pity Sex thrive in melancholy, crafting downer jams that manage to feel beautiful. The Michigan band delivered their brand of shoegaze emo at Stereogum's SXSW day party to a mostly unknowing crowd, one they delighted pretty easily. The group kept banter to a minimum and riffage to a maximum.

13 / 18

Young Rising Sons

Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Young Rising Sons have picked a pretty accurate band name. Their single, "High," is, well, on the rise. Their performance on a rooftop bar in central Austin could have been in an arena, with frontman Andy Tongren seemingly taking a page out of the book of Harry Styles, winning the audience over with a single look (and some hand-clap requests.) A surprising set from a band we believe are poised for radio takeover.

14 / 18


Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

"My crew couldn't get in because they're not 21," Halsey started her Lana Del Rey downward-pop performance. "Are you guys drunk? Jealous." It was her second of three shows that night, and it seemed that she wanted to party more than anyone in attendance. It was slightly jarring, these calls of decadence between songs steeped in sadness and sex, but it somehow worked, however friendless our heroine was.

15 / 18

Adult Books

Venue: Hotel Vegas
Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Unknown now, but not for long: Los Angeles' Adult Books thrive in a familiar garage-pop world but managed to shatter it whole at an early SXSW Tuesday night showcase. The trio brought a jangly sort of Britpop sound to outdoor venue Hotel Vegas while pleasing the punks in the audience with downtrodden, Ian Curtis–esque vocals.

16 / 18


Venue: Hotel Vegas
Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

For Austin locals invested in the scene, Institute are something of a supergroup. Made up of members from Wiccans, Glue, Blotter, Recide and other hardcore favorites, this band takes the sum of its parts and makes it feel like...more. Like the parts got multiplied and then squared, maybe?

17 / 18

Destruction Unit

Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Destruction Unit were a favorite performance of ours last year and have proved themselves worthy of the title two years running. Ten seconds into their set—or maybe less—the Tempe, AZ five piece destroyed a monitor. When it got back up and running, they played thirty seconds of their next tune—more destruction. A dude from the back of the room hollered, "They keep shutting off the power...there are too many f*cking people in this band!" Therein lies the glory.

18 / 18

Total Abuse

Venue: Hotel Vegas
Jatnna Nunez for Fuse

Total Abuse is not daytime music. It's also not music for anyone with any level of self-seriousness. It's brash, and at times downright disgusting. The sky was gloomy when the noise punk band took the stage, but they somehow made it rain...and then halted it. So yeah, they have mythological powers.


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