Features Festivals

20 Artists to See at SXSW 2022

It’s hard to believe that around this time two years ago, I was gearing up to go to South By Southwest for Staged Haze’s first festival coverage ever. But…COVID happened, and I won’t waste your time by retelling the story that we all know like the back of our hands.

In under two weeks, I’ll be making the trek to Austin to cover South By Southwest 2022, the first time the festival has been back since 2019. It’s a big deal for myself, the festival production team, the artists, and all of the employees who are working the nine-day event. With that being said, I’m unbelievably excited to explore the city of Austin and the variety of showcasing acts this year: it was hard to even narrow it down to the 20 on this list!

I hope you find someone you’re interested in seeing in Austin in a couple weeks, or just someone new to listen to if you aren’t attending!

In alphabetical order:

Annie DiRusso

For fans of: Samia, Phoebe Bridgers, Briston Maroney
Date(s) & Venue(s) TBD

If you can relate to the feeling of overwhelming dread coming on at any given second of your day, then I think you’re going to like Annie DiRusso’s music. The Nashville via New York City singer/songwriter’s brutal honesty is at the forefront of her music: effortlessly blending the cynicism of a New York City Native with the hopefulness of a Nashvillian looking to make it in music. Fresh off a tour supporting Samia, Annie’s debut album is coming soon (Yes—this is a pun on one of her biggest songs of the same name).

“It used to be easy / just coasting through life / and it’s not anymore, but I’ve been feelin’ alright”

Baby Queen

For fans of: Olivia Rodrigo, Holly Humberstone, Maude Latour
Date(s) & Venue(s):
March 16, 9-9:40PM @ Augustine
– March 18, 11-11:40PM @ British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard

I feel like I am a broken record at this point, so I assume if you’re a regular reader of Staged Haze, you know we’ve been big fans of Baby Queen since the very beginning. It’s hard to believe we discovered Bella (aka Baby Queen) in the early summer of 2020, and NOW the time has come for us to finally see her live. The South Africa by London Bella Latham has been consistently releasing pop banger after banger about growing up in the 2020s, mental health, and the dark sides of internet culture with lyrics that give Taylor Swift a run for her money (Swift is one of Bella’s idols).

Baby Queen is playing a handful of shows in the US before she goes on tour with Olivia Rodrigo (!!!) so if you’re looking for the opportunity to see Baby Queen before she completely explodes, here’s your chance.

Balming Tiger

For fans of: Brockhampton, MICHELLE
Date(s) & Venue(s):
– March 18, 3-3:40PM @ International Day Stage at Brush Square Park
– March 19, 1:30-2:00AM @ Reina + ReyRey

Though we all know that the K-pop scene is absolutely bustling with immense talent right now, I will go out on a limb and say that the biggest of those artists (BTS, Blackpink) all make traditional-sounding pop music. But not Balming Tiger! The band, also named after the very famous Asian tiger balm ointment (I’d like to know how that trademarking situation went down when naming the band), describes themselves as an “alternative multi-national K-Pop band,” who strive to popularize Asian culture throughout the rest of the world. Though Balming Tiger only 30k monthly listeners on Spotify at the time of writing this, I don’t suspect that will last long. 

Bendigo Fletcher

For fans of: Cage The Elephant, Michigander
Date(s) & Venue(s):
March 17, 9-9:40PM @ Victorian Room at The Driskill

Hey, it’s me, back again on my soapbox about Bendigo Fletcher, arguably one of the most underrated groups in folk rock making music right now. With their 2021 debut album Fits of Laughter, Bendigo Fletcher succeeds in marrying folk, psychedelic rock and a hint of country twang. Lead singer and songwriter Ryan Anderson effortlessly romanticizes the monotony of daily life: from working at Whole Foods to contemplating leaving civilization to live in nature to everything in between. I saw the band open up for Anderson East at the end of last year (it was fantastic), and I’m looking forward to checking out another set from them.

Charlie Hickey

For fans of: Jodi, Christian Lee Hutson, Ethan Gruska
Date(s) & Venue(s) TBD

When Phoebe Bridgers comments on your existence as “one of the reasons I started a [record] label,” the odds that you’re destined for success are pretty astronomical. That’s exactly what happened to 22-year-old Charlie Hickey, who was one of the first artists to sign to Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records last year. Since an EP release titled Count The Stairs in 2021, Hickey has played shows with the likes of Madi Diaz and Samia, two of our highly-covered artists, and also released a reimagined version of his song “Seeing Things” with label mates and fellow Staged Haze faves MUNA.


CMAT

For fans of: Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves, Allison Ponthier
Date(s) & Venue(s):
March 14, 11-11:40PM @ British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard
– March 17, 10-1040PM @ The Velveeta Room

If you’re looking for the next country pop icon to add to your rotation, I’ve found her in CMAT: and no, that’s not her birth name. Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, also known as the queen of internet trolling (in the most harmless way possible), is getting ready to drop her debut album titled If My Wife New I’d Be Dead on March 4th. Thompson’s marriage of traditional country music and trendy, Gen Z verbiage (talks of being a cowboy and loving astrology) is sure to catch some eyes and ears in Austin this year.

Thompson spoke on her sound in a recent press release: “All the former versions of myself have Play-Doh-balled themselves into one big lump..so while I’m not a country musician, I do think I’m a country singer. It’s glam. It’s tacky. It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It’s vibrant. Lyrically those artists like to have fun.”


Ferris & Sylvester

For fans of: The Head & The Heart, Alabama Shakes, First Aid Kit
Date(s) & Venue(s):
– March 18, 11-11:40PM @ Cooper’s BBQ

I guess something’s in the water, because I’ve featured FOUR artists on this list that have some element of country in their music. Talk about growth, people! When Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester crossed paths in 2017, it was a sign of fate. The duo, now a couple, have been making music together ever since, camping out in a cottage outside of London during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic to work on their debut album together. All ahead of their debut record, Ferris & Sylvester have won UK’s Americana Awards ‘Emerging Artist of Year,’ been compared to artists lik Simon & Garfunkel and First Aid Kit, plus have shared the stage with major artists like Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, George Ezra, and Jade Bird.

Fanclubwallet

For fans of: Dora Jar, girlhouse, Wallice
Date(s) & Venue(s):
– March 16, 9-9:40PM @ Swan Dive
– March 18, 10-10:40PM @ Swan Dive Patio

After Ottawa-based musician fanclubwallet (Real name Hannah Judge) released her single “Car Crash in G Major” during the fall of 2020, she suffered a Crohn’s disease flare up, leading to a stint in the hospital and leaving her bedridden in her childhood home for ten months. Judge took the opportunity to work on her debut EP, Hurt is Boring. Fast forward to present day, and now 22-year-old Judge is putting the finishing touches on her debut album, You Have Got To Be Kidding Me, which is set to drop on May 20. If you’re looking for some new “slacker bedroom rock” (a phrase that was used to described Judges’ sound on a previous press release), fanclubwallet has got you covered.

Hannah Jadagu

For fans of: Clairo, Arlo Parks, Barrie
Date(s) & Venue(s):
– March 16, 10:40-11:20PM @ Cheer Up Charlie’s Inside

If you want to feel good about yourself and your accomplishments, maybe don’t read what I’m about to say. Hannah Jadagu is an 18-year-old college student from Mesquite, Texas and is currently studying at NYU. Oh, and she’s currently working on her debut EP after signing with Sub Pop Records (home to artists like Beach House and Father John Misty). She also writes and produces all of her music. OH, and one more thing: she’s currently playing a string of shows with Ritt Momney. What were you doing at 18? Probably not that (and neither was I).

Needless to say, Jadagu’s on her way up, quick.

Jade Bird

For fans of: First Aid Kit, The Staves, Allison Ponthier
Date(s) & Venue(s): TBD

My fellow Libra queen Jade Bird has redefined what it means to me to enjoy country music. Yes. Read that sentence again! Well she’s technically leans more on the Americana end of the “country music” spectrum, it is truly rare for me to love this style of music (journalist Laura Snapes likes to call it “pop-country”). But Bird, who’s only 24-years-old, has the vocal power that is unparalleled to any of her counterparts, genres need no mention. Her gravelly voice gives her the maturity of an artist who’s been in the game for decades, which is a big compliment to give someone so early on in their career. Bird relocated to Austin from England recently, so I’m curious to see what it’s like for her to play a “hometown” show.

Laundry Day

For fans of: Kevin Abstract, Hippo Campus, Jelani Areyah
Date(s) & Venue(s) TBD

I feel like it has been a generally long time since I’ve discovered a new BAND I enjoy: recently I’ve been more drawn towards solo artists (for whatever reason) and the bands I do listen to are ones that I’ve been following for several years. Laundry Day was started by Sawyer Nunes, Jude Ciulla, Henry Weingartner, Etai Abramovich, and Henry Pearl, when they were in high school together, and have cited artists like Tyler, the Creator and Brockhampton as some of their biggest influences: which I find fascinating. 

Though Laundry Day has been releasing music for several years now, I only stumbled across them last summer when checking out the Lollapalooza lineup and digging their vibe. Laundry Day’s fourth full-length album, We Switched Bodies, dropped earlier this year. 
– Kristin

Maisie Peters

For fans of: Taylor Swift, Griff, Sigrid
Date(s) & Venue(s):
– March 19, 8-8:40PM @ British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard

It’s pretty wild to me to see an artist who recently signed to Ed Sheeran’s record label on the bill for a festival that showcases up and coming artists, but I guess the 21-year-old popstar Maisie Peters is still building her fanbase in America. Peters, who got her start by busking on streets in Brighton, has successfully managed to gain the attention of artists like Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers with her rich storytelling and diary-like songs, (sound familiar?) so it’s safe to say she won’t have much of a problem finding some new fans in Austin this year.

MUNA

For fans of: Miley Cyrus, Phoebe Bridgers, The Aces
Date(s) & Venue(s) TBD

Never in a million years did I expect to see MUNA on this year’s South By lineup, considering I feel like they’ve been making massive moves in the scene for almost five years at this point. Not only did they get a slot opening for Harry Styles’ first solo tour ever, but they also just finished up opening for Kacey Musgraves during her “star-crossed” tour. But hey, I have no complaints here, and I was happy to see their name as a newly added artist to the lineup last week. Since MUNA’s signing with Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records last year, the trio has been all over the place, especially for their song “Silk Chiffon” that features a verse from Bridgers herself. MUNA’s in the process of working on their third album, so I’m hoping to hear some unreleased tracks from them.

Petey

For fans of: Foxing Hovvdy, Oso Oso
Date(s) & Venue(s) TBD

When a Chicago-based artist I’ve never heard of starts releasing music and sells out a show in my former city, it’s time to pay attention. That’s exactly what I did when I stumbled upon Petey, an Artis whose rise to TikTok fame has immensely helped his singing career. 29-year-old Petey, who lives in Los Angeles and has been working in the mailroom of a talent agency for the past three years, has been spending his free time promoting his music on TikTok through strange, sometimes pointless clips: one has nearly 10 million views. 

I struggle coming up with a description of what Petey’s music sounds like, but I don’t think it really matters. Like Petey’s PR biography states, “Is it indie rock? Punk? Electro-pop? Emo? Sure, but if you’re getting hung up on what to call it, then you’ve already missed the point.”

Phebe Starr

For fans of: Florence + The Machine meets Marina
Date(s) & Venue(s) TBD

Could you think of a better well-crafted stage name than ‘Phebe Starr?” Cause I certainly couldn’t. The Australian singer-songwriter grew up in a tiny town called Dorrigo and has been making music for the past decade, pivoting to songwriting and production after moving to Los Angeles several years ago. Despite how long she’s been in the game, she has yet to drop a full length project, until NOW! HEAVY METAL FLOWER drops on March 11. Fun fact: Phebe lives with the artist MALLRAT in Los Angeles.

Pom Pom Squad

For fans of: Mannequin Pussy, Illuminati Hotties, Adult Mom
Date(s) & Venue(s)
– March 18, 1-1:50AM @ Augustine

No, I still haven’t stopped talking about Pom Pom Squad and I probably never will. Mia Berrin’s punk rock debut Death of A Cheerleader made my “best of 2021” list at #2, so it’s pretty obvious why I’m including her in this list. In a sea of pop music, Berrin stands alone as one of the few punk rock musicians I genuinely love to listen to: her girly grunge aesthetics, the aggression, the screeching guitars, I LOVE IT ALL. With the buzz around Pom Pom Squad surrounding their 2021 LP, I’m sure their set(s) will be one(s) not to miss.

Quinn Christopherson

For fans of: Samia, Lala Lala, Hand Habits
Date(s) & Venue(s)
– March 17, 1:30-2:10PM @ Flatstock Stage at Austin Convention Center

Way back in 2019, we interviewed Quinn Christopherson apart of our ‘Artist of The Month’ series. The Alaska native was fresh off from winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert for his song “Erase Me,” a track about his experience living as a transgender male and how his perspective continues to shape his music.

Fast forward to 2022, and Christopherson has built up an impressive touring resume, boasting shows supporting artists like Lucy Dacus, Courtney Barnett, Portugal. The Man, and more. He released his debut EP late last year and is set to release his debut LP later this year.

Sasami

For fans of: Mitski, Grimes, HAIM
Date(s) & Venue(s)
– March 16, 11-11:40PM @ Half Step
– March 18, 4-4:40PM @ Radio Day Stage at Austin Convention Center

I’m not quite sure how to explain what Sasami’s music sounds like, but if you can get down with a good folk pop song (think Waxahatchee), but also love grunge rock (Pom Pom Squad), AND also love the weird edgy electronic music that artists like Grimes makes, you’re going to love Sasami Ashworth. Who is making music that sounds like all of the artists I mentioned above? Not many that I can think of. 

Though I’ve been familiar with Sasami as an Artis for quite some time now, I haven’t had the opportunity to see her live, and I’m anxiously awaiting to see how she’s going to pull off such a plethora of genres that exist in her brand new album Squeeze during a live performance.

Self Esteem

For fans of: Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, Chvrches
Date(s) & Venue(s)
– March 16, 11-11:40PM @ Augustine
– March 17, 11-11:40PM @ British Music Embassy @ Cedar Street Courtyard

Rebecca Taylor’s history in the indie scene prepared her for the next chapter in her career: releasing music under the moniker “Self Esteem,” which she debuted in 2019 with a stunning full length project titled Compliments Please.

Returning last year, Taylor’s sophomore album Prioritise Pleasure received immense acclaim, tackling topics like female sexuality and autonomy, self love, and more. Prioritise Pleasure received countless 5-star reviews from the likes of The Guardian and The Times, and Taylor was nominated for her first BRIT Award and was crowned BBC Music Introducing’s Artist Of The Year and Attitude Magazine’s Music Award winner. If you’re looking for an undeniably fun pop show to check out a SXSW this year, look no further.

Wet Leg

For fans of: Sports Team, Pip Blom, Self Esteem
Date(s) & Venue(s)
– March 16, 12-12:40AM @ Half Step
– March 17, 10-10:40PM @ British Music Embassy Cedar Street Courtyard
– March 18, 2-2:40PM @ Radio Day Stage At Austin Convention Center

I’ve talked about Wet Leg upwards of a million times so I’ll keep this short: the British duo has seemingly taken the world by storm at a record pace, selling out North American tour dates with only five songs released and a debut album on the way. Despite the baseless internet claims that Wet Leg is an “industry plant,” I’m going to go out on a limb here (really not a limb at all) and say that Wet Leg is in fact the real deal, and that 2022 is about to be their Jordan year. 

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