Kerrang!’s 5 Bands to Watch at South By Southwest This Year
South by Southwest has long been one of the most important trendsetting festivals in America. Disappointingly, however, this year’s lineup seems to be severely lacking in the hard rock and metal department. Did Mastodon’s performance last year set the bar too high for anyone to compete? Perhaps Pig Destroyer’s blistering set terrified festival organizers. Or maybe it was last year’s Austin Terror Fest responsible for that (this year’s iteration isn’t competing with SXSW, running instead from June 15th through June 17th).
Whatever the case may be, there are thankfully just enough stellar acts to keep a Kerrang! fan’s attention at SXSW. Below are our five favorites that you absolutely need to watch:
The most established band on this list (and also the heaviest), Gatecreeper have gained a passionate following since touring with the likes of Nails, Toxic Holocaust, Cannibal Corpse, and Power Trip over just the last two years. The Arizona quartet is breathing new life into death metal with their unique blend of Entombed-like guitar tone, Obituary-esque grooves, and guttural, Bolt Thrower-inspired growls. Loud, tight, and impossibly brutal, this is a band that was made to be seen at a venue with a name like “Dirty Dog Bar” at one in the morning.
Dirty Dog Bar: Mar 15, 2018, 1:00am — 1:50am
Double Ferrari will melt your goddamned face off — and doesn’t even need a vocalist to do it. Armed with intelligent songwriting, a powerful rhythm section, and triumphant dual guitar harmonies, the band packs more firepower in a 40-minute set than Iron Maiden does in an entire tour. Perhaps it’s not all that surprising that Double Ferrari bears more than a few similarities to the now defunct Fucking Champs — Ferrari’s debut self-titled album was produced by the Champs’ Tim Green, who applied years of shredding and producing metal-riff-inspired party music to recording his protégés.
Barracuda (Outside): Mar 16, 2018, 8:10pm — 8:50pm
You probably wouldn’t travel to Costa Rica specifically for its metal scene (namely because there are fewer than 200 bands in the country of nearly 5 million inhabitants). And thankfully, you don’t have to – because the very best is playing SXSW…twice. Not only does the Pneuma unit have 16 years of experience under its belt, but the band evolved a fairly generic thrash sound into a harsher style that infuses elements of progressive and groove metal with the release of 2016’s The Game. Pneuma are on the path to world domination.
Dirty Dog Bar: Mar 15, 2018, 11:00pm — 11:40pm
720 Club Patio: Mar 16, 2018, 7:45pm — 8:25pm
Call ‘em “punk rock,” “indie pop,” or simply “emo” (the good kind); however you label them (though certainly not as hard rock or metal), Bad Moves is a band you need to know. The co-ed foursome caught the attention of many a music outlet with the release of their 2016 self-titled EP, dripping with late ‘90s indie rock influences on tracks such as their infectiously catchy single “The Verge”. The rock world has been waiting for their next move ever since. Rumor has it that they began recording their debut LP in January – but while we wait for that to drop, you can catch them at one of their two SXSW shows to understand what all the buzz is about.
The Sidewinder Outside: Mar 13, 2018, 7:30pm — 8:00pm
Barracuda (Inside): Mar 16, 2018, 7:45pm — 8:25pm
By most accounts, Spirit Adrift play mid-tempo doom metal – but there’s also enough passionate urgency and energetic shredding on their new album, Curse of Conception, to put the band in a new category all of its own. Fans of Pallbearer and Khemmis will find plenty to love about this Phoenix, Arizona, outfit, which produced one of the best underground metal records of last year. While metal might be underrepresented at this year’s SXSW, Spirit Adrift would be at the top of your must-see list even if the lineup was stacked with all-stars.
Dirty Dog Bar - Mar 15, 2018, 12:00am — 12:40am
WORDS: Ethan Fixell is Kerrang!’s U.S. Executive Director