Austin, Texas has always been known for having the best live music scene in the country. They are a melting pot of all kinds of music including country, blues and indie rock. Austin also hosts one of the country’s largest music festivals, South by Southwest (SXSW). I have compiled this list of my favorite Austin acts, including some well-known artists like Spoon and Stevie Ray Vaughan and lesser-known indie bands like Holy Wave and RF Shannon.
The Bright Light Social Hour- Created in 2010, this psychedelic rock band blends elements of space rock, funk and blues to create a truly amazing sound. The guitar work by Curtis Roush is remarkable and elevates your senses into new realms with his use of trippy effect pedals. They mix many genres together, like dream pop, blues and psychedelic rock. Definitely my favorite band from Austin, their album “Space is Still the Place” is a masterpiece and is worth a listen.
Holy Wave- Originally from El Paso, this Austin-based psychedelic band has been rocking since 2008. They mix trance-like rhythms with catchy psychedelic guitar riffs. They were an important part in creating Austin Psych Fest, now known as Levitation Festival.
The Black Angels- Formed in 2004, this psychedelic heavy rock band is one of the premiere acts from Austin. With long, layered songs about war, death and other dark themes, they are an important group in the psychedelic rock community and one of my favorite bands.
Star Parks- An Austin based project from Andy Bianculli that blends lo-fi dream pop with catchy Beatles-style indie pop. A hidden gem from Austin with lots of great psychedelic, layered songs.
RF Shannon- Created by songwriter and vocalist Shane Renfro, this dreamy psychedelic band is quintessential Austin. His calm and soothing voice carries you into the hot Texas dessert. A great mix of blues, soul and psychedelic folk rock, RF Shannon is hard to categorize but makes for great easy listening.
Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears- Created in 2007, this energetic group blends blues, soul and funk to create a unique modern sound. Heavily influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and James Brown, this group is very entertaining to listen to and one of Austin’s best.
Shakey Graves- Formed in 2007 by guitarist, songwriter Alejandro Rose-Garcia, this Austin band mixes traditional Americana style blues, folk and country to create a soulful and tender sound. He has gathered a lot of commercial success while also retaining his indie, bare-bones bluesy sound.
Spoon- One of the most well known Austin bands of all time, Spoon jumped onto the indie, alternative rock scene in 1993. They have had hit after hit over their many years of recording and touring. Their style is unique and has an experimental and art rock edge, making them one of the pioneers of alternative rock in the 2000’s.
Stevie Ray Vaughan- One of the best blues guitarists of all time, Stevie Ray brought blues to a wide audience with his unique heavy sound and soulful songs. He used heavy strings and was known for his intense and jaw dropping live performances. He was my gateway artist into the world of blues and his legacy will always live on.
Freddie King- Born in Gilmer, Texas, Freddie made a lasting impression on the Austin blues and overall music scene. A direct influence on Stevie Ray, Freddie brought a heavy and powerful sound to electric guitar blues. He is one of my favorite guitarists and his sound has been copied for many years. His live performances are very entertaining. He played with passion and had a very fast and creative sound that defines Texas blues.
The Sword- Formed in 2003, this Austin-based heavy metal band blends classic metal like Black Sabbath with more modern doom metal and stoner rock. You can definitely hear their main influence, Black Sabbath in both the vocal style and guitar playing. John D. Cronise is the main lyricist and vocalist and loves to write songs about Norse mythology and ancient literature. The Sword is a dynamic metal band that brings energy and a level of precision and touch.
Written by Adam