AUSTIN, Tex. — Even past its peak, the annual South by Southwest Music Festival was a prodigious thing, with some 2,000 acts performing in Austin’s clubs, theaters, hotels and parking lots from March 12 through Sunday. This year’s festival, the 32nd, didn’t have any arena-circuit headliner or overbearing corporate sponsorships, reflecting a dwindling recording business. But that just helped level the playing field for the performers — Austin mainstays, international visitors, punks from multiple generations, singer-songwriters, even some SoundCloud rappers — who still flock to SXSW in hopes of being discovered or getting a boost.
No one listener can choose a definitive “best of” SXSW; even in day-and-night concertgoing, it’s impossible to hear more than a small percentage of the performers. Here are 17 acts that stood out this year.