Skipping SXSW? Catch Young Thug, Tove Lo & More in NYC Before or After the Festival


Super jealous of your friends heading down to South by Southwest next week? Dreading their slew of Twitter and Instagram updates about how they’re having, like, seriously the best time ever? Worry not: Not only are you avoiding throngs of overserved trend-clingers, you can also catch many of the best acts performing there right in your own backyard. Yes, everyone from Young Thug to Tove Lo is stopping by NYC the week prior to or following SXSW. Take a look below at some must-see artists rolling through town who happen to also be gigging next week in Austin.

Young Thug & Travis Scott (3/12, Webster Hall)

At last year’s South By, Young Thug, arguably the hottest rapper to emerge over the past year, chopped it up with everyone from Lil Wayne to Childish Gambino. But let’s be real: every show with the drank-sipping, rhyme-slurring Atlantan MC is an all-out fracas of the best variety. Now three years removed from his debut mixtape, the bullring-pierced Thug is an all-out rock star. And who better to join him in New York City the week before he heads to Austin then G.O.O.D. Music’s resident wild child, Travis Scott?

Milo Greene (3/12, The Bowery Ballroom)

What’s perhaps most exciting about catching this L.A. quartet in concert is the opportunity to watch a musical evolution practically play out in real time. The four dudes and sole female member Marlana Sheetz traded in the folk-tinged sound of their 2012 eponymous debut for the delicious synthpop-drenched organism that is their latest LP. “This record was about experimenting with the thing we didn’t really get a chance to on the first record,” singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Heringer recently said. “I think it was really inspiring for all of us.”

James Bay (3/16, Bowery Ballroom)

Soon enough you’ll look back on this very moment with wide-eyed amazement: Yes, there was in fact a stitch in time when James Bay wasn’t a global superstar. Because really it’s only a matter of when the English troubadour — who has a massive fan and vocal supporter in Taylor Swift and was recently crowned the 2015 Brit Awards Critics’ Choice — blows up in a major way. In the meantime, cherish the opportunity to catch him at a small-club gig so you can relay the glorious early-adopter moment to your friends a few years down the line.

Laura Marling (3/23, Warsaw)

Laura Marling’s NYC gig is one people will be buzzing about for days to come: The breakout English folk singer went electric for her forthcoming album, this month’s Short Movies, recorded primarily with the cherry-red Gibson 335 gifted to her by her father. “That guitar completely changed my perspective on music,” she recently noted. The album, Marling’s fifth, is also her darkest work yet, a seeming counterpoint to her decision to move and record in L.A., including the Hurricane Sandy–inspired “False Hope.”

Action Bronson (3/24, Terminal 5)

Like everything in the Queens-bred rapper’s life, from his bombastic rhymes to his voracious (albeit refined) appetite and protruding belly, Action Bronson’s live shows are outsize affairs. “In Boston some kid just jumped up while I’m rapping, he’s all ‘WOO, WOO,’ like a ridiculous college kid, he jumps up, I catch him at the perfect point when he jumps up, clothesline, leg sweep, folded him up in half like a piece of cheese, man,” the rapper recalled to ESPN. Point being: When it’s time to step up your party game with the man behind the upcoming Mr. Wonderful, you best do your wildin’ on the dance floor.

Big Data (3/24, The Bowery Ballroom)

It’s a fact of life: Funk is back. And perhaps no one deploys it with so much effortless cool and post-EDM slither as Big Data. Alan Wilkis is the brains behind the project, and he’s got lots of ’em. “My music is about how social media has changed every part of our existence,” the Harvard grad told USA Today last summer of his Joywave-featuring hit single “Dangerous” that exploded onto the scene. Expect his live show, replete with a pair of backing musicians and the typical guest spot from Joywave, to be just as heady.

Jack Garratt (3/24, Baby’s All Right)

Sometimes the best recipe for a blissful evening involves standing still, taking in your surroundings, and tuning out everything but one singular voice. That’s where Jack Garratt comes in: The Londoner delivers that profoundly serene sentiment in spades. His ambient electropop sound is reminiscent of James Blake or How to Dress Well, with a dash of Damien Rice thrown in for good measure. Looking to prep for the show? Cue up “The Love You’re Given” or “Water.”

Tove Lo (3/25, Highline Ballroom)

If you’ve heard the murky, sensual radio smash “Habits (Stay High)” and think you’ve got Tove Lo all figured out, think again. The newly minted Swedish pop star’s debut album, Queen of the Clouds, is slathered with electro breakdowns (“Not on Drugs”), bouncy beats (“My Gun”), and enchanting vocal melodies. What’s more, unlike some studio-bred pop protégés, this one delivers in the live setting with as much vigor as in the booth.

Shakey Graves (3/26, Irving Plaza)

Alejandro Rose Garcia, a/k/a breakout folk troubadour Shakey Graves, may be an Austin native and a longtime vet of SXSW, but — as evidenced by his spectacular debut album, last fall’s …And the War Came — the dude’s fully spread his wings over the past year. And it’s safe to say he’s found solid ground on which to land: Graves’s duet with friend and fellow musician Esmé Patterson “Dearly Departed” brought him legions of new fans and skyrocketed him to a new echelon of fame. Armed with similarly genteel, meditative, and acoustic-anchored tunes, don’t be surprised if he continues his ascent.

Tobias Jesso Jr. (3/26, Mercury Lounge)

There’s something simple about the music of Tobias Jesso Jr. as it unfurls; it’s almost as if the words the mop-topped young man spills — of faded dreams, broken promises, and all that crap in between — are coming straight from the listener’s mind. Yes, Jesso appears to be on some next-level steez here. Lucky for all those who catch his NYC gig, mere days after the release of his debut album, Goon, many such gems are still being polished within the live setting. This means you can expect an even more raw and unfettered performance from an already open book of a performer.

Milky Chance (3/28, Music Hall of Williamsburg)

It’s easy to get distracted by the sheer absurdity of Milky Chance’s name. (We’re sure the guys are tired of explaining it to dumbfounded interviewers by now). But then you cue up one of their tracks and find you’re instantly latching on to their hummable, undeniably catchy rhythms. Like, for instance, the German duo’s charting radio hit, “Stolen Dance.” Chuckling at their name then just seems, well, silly. And don’t go thinking they’re a one-and-done: Check out other killer cuts off their debut album, Sadnecessary, including the martial drum-driven “Flashed Junk Mind” and almost carnivalesque “Stunner.”

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