The annual South by Southwest music festival and conference starts up again next week, bringing bands from around the globe to stages across Austin, Texas. And that includes a number of bands from San Diego. So if you're headed to the Lone Star state, here are some local acts to look out for.
Javier Escovedo and the City Lights: The Escovedo family has roots in both Austin and San Diego, so it's only natural that Javier would be playing a show this year. And his hard-rocking power pop is always worth hearing, no matter what city you're in. (1 a.m. Thursday, March 19, at Saxon Pub)
Harsh Toke: Oceanside group Harsh Toke play heavy psych in the vein of Blue Cheer or, on a more local scale, JOY. If it's something heavy, trippy and smoke-filled, then seek this band out. (Wednesday, March 18, at Gypsy Lounge)
Hills Like Elephants: Hills Like Elephants have played SXSW before, and they've always seemed on the verge of becoming bigger. They've got pop-songwriting skills that most bands would be lucky to have, so that extra bit of exposure certainly can't hurt. (Saturday, March 21, at Stay Gold)
Prayers: This electronic "cholo-goth" band (or "killwave," in Rafael Reyes' words) has been garnering some national press of late, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is the year that Prayers break. SXSW is famous for that kind of thing, so put this on your schedule and wear that "I saw them first" badge with pride. (9 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at Highland)
Soft Lions: Joining their fellow San Diegans Hills Like Elephants on Saturday at Stay Gold are Soft Lions, who were recently nominated for Best New Artist at the San Diego Music Awards. They haven't been together long, but they keep getting better, and making it halfway across the country is a step in the right direction. (Saturday, March 21, at Stay Gold)
Wavves: This isn't the first time Wavves have played SXSW, and Nathan Williams has spent a good half-decade making the festival rounds. But their live show has gotten a lot tighter, and while they're technically not a San Diego band anymore, their history here makes them honorary San Diegans. (12:30 a.m. Thursday, March 19, at Emo's)