Music festivals are like superhero movies–every year there’s seven more you haven’t heard of, they are no longer confined to the summer and it’s unclear whether it is better to see in person or stream on the internet. One that is definitely worth paying attention to? This year’s South by So What?! Festival just outside Dallas, where over 150 bands will perform over three days. Since it isn’t humanly possible to see every band, here are 10 worth skipping out early on a set to get right up front for.
Following up the band’s 2014 record Descensus, Circa Survive are embarking on a tour that will take them through the U.S. and Europe, featuring stops at both South By So What?! and Coachella. While the Coachella opportunity is certainly fantastic for the band, the notorious image-obsessed crowds the festival usually draws might not appreciate their blend of post-hardcore and emo, as well as an increasingly apparent prog rock streak. That won’t be a problem at South By So What?!, where the band’s headlining set is one of the most anticipated.
Last year, La Dispute played more than 70 shows in 16 countries. They’ve scaled back a bit in 2015, hitting “only” 11 nations and a little more than 30 shows. They kick off their 2015 tour at South By So What?!, their only festival date announced so far. With only a year since their most recent release, there’s no news of a new album coming, though they have announced a Rooms Of The House coffee blend in partnership with Rowsters Coffee. The band’s records have gotten widespread acclaim for their dense, storytelling take on post-hardcore combined with flashes of spoken word. They’re new classic-makers, and a must-see at this Festival.
Dance Gavin Dance
2015 marks the 10-year anniversary for Sacramento’s Dance Gavin Dance and the post-hardcore band are set to release their sixth album, Instant Gratification, in April to help celebrate the occasion. Over the past decade, the band have added more genres to their albums, with recent records featuring a strong math rock and experimental influence. They’ll be on tour supporting Memphis May Fire before embarking on their own, with support from Hail The Sun, Polyphia and Stolas. Their Saturday set promises the chance to hear bits of the new album nearly a full month before its release.
South By So What?! is one of the few dates announced for Pittsburgh’s Code Orange (formerly Code Orange Kids). After getting rave reviews and serious buzz for 2014’s I Am King, which somehow managed to channel the Melvins, Refused and the Smiths,the hardcore band are looking to increase their notoriety. Their mix of drone, hardcore and math rock make their raucous shows a perfect addition to the festival. If you had to bet on a band to literally tear up the stage and then throw the tattered remains to the audience, Code Orange are a safe bet.
Stray From The Path
After six months without playing a show, 2015 is looking busy for Long Island, New York natives Stray From The Path. They’ll tour the U.S. through April and then spend June in Europe. While they haven’t officially announced a new album, the band have mentioned that they spent their break from touring writing new music. Whether anything is released this year—or even makes it onto their Sunday set—remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear a sample of what they’ve worked on while away. They’re also your best option for getting a pure metalcore fix at this year’s festival.
Balance And Composure
It’s been two years since Balance And Composure released an album, but they are keeping busy in 2015. In addition to playing Friday at South By So What?!, the Doylestown, PA band are touring with Circa Survive and CHON until May, with a few headlining sets in between. The band’s The Things We Think We’re Missing combined modern alternative rock and shoegaze, while hinting at the burgeoning emo revival, and managed to pull off moments that threatened to sound like nü-metal before shifting into post-rock.
Self Defense Family
Self Defense Family are fresh off a collaborative two-track album with Touché Amoré and in the middle of a month-long tour. Still, that hasn’t dampened any talk of new music. The band recently hinted at a number of upcoming projects, saying they were trying to write a few records without guitars in the second half of 2015. Their Friday set promises more of the hypnotic, cathartic post-hardcore the band is more known for, with plenty of guitars to spare.
Night Riots sets have featured covers from a broad spectrum of artists, from the Magnetic Fields to the Misfits to Eddie Money. That makes sense for an indie-pop band with enough New Wave in their DNA to seamlessly fit into an ‘80s romance flick. The Southern California band recently released their EP Howl, which managed to break into the Heatseekers Albums Top 20, with lead single “Contagious” coming in at 40 on the Alternative Songs chart. Not bad for a band that was crowdfunding their debut EP just two years ago.
Set It Off
Set It Off, the Tampa-based pop-punk band that owes more than a little to their classical training, have a busy summer ahead of them. Their Friday show at South By So What?! kicks off a tour that will last until August, taking them to Europe in May before coming back for Warped Tour. Their second album, Duality, sports big pop hooks, like some Frankensteined combination of NSYNC and Fall Out Boy. Expect a few sing-alongs to break out when they hit the stage, especially during the pseudo-gospel, pop-punk stomp “Why Worry.”
Hotel Books are definitely one of the more unique acts performing at South By So What?! Led by 22-year-old Cam Smith, the faith-based spoken word project highlights ambient influences and subtle references to their Christian beliefs. The band are set to release Run Wild, Young Beauty this April. With their combination of slam poetry, post-rock and emo, their Friday set promises to be unlike everything else on this list.