Back in its early years—long before they added films and technology to the mix—the South by Southwest schedule was typically filled with relatively unknown bands hoping to be discovered. Bands pursuing a dream along the lines of what happened for The Lumineers, who just last year played a small set to a small crowd at SXSW and are now selling out stadiums on the strength of their Grammy-nominated song “Ho Hey.” The tradition of new and rising bands flocking to Austin hasn’t changed.
But over the years, as the festival has grown in popularity—last year, presenting more than 2,200 acts across 104 stages—and influence, SXSW started to draw bigger—even household—names. Metallica played in 2009, and last year saw such bold name types as Bruce Springsteen, 50 Cent and Kanye West all heading to the festival. It was inevitable: when something becomes cool, people want to get involved. So this year, instead of mourning the days of undiscovered acts playing tiny shows dreaming of fame and fortune, we’re reveling in the chance to see Depeche Mode play live. Besides, we’ll always have CMJ.
Here are 8 of the biggest acts to hit SXSW this year: