15 Artists You Shouldn't Miss at NX35

With more than 150 bands performing at North By 35, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. Here are 15 artists that should be on your watch list.

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The Flaming Lips: It seems like a dream to have Oklahoma's pride in our backyard, especially for a free show. But however the stars aligned to bring us Coyne and crew, we're thanking the Rock Gods for the opportunity to see their crowd-rolling human hamster ball on top of thousands of festival fans in Denton. Catch them at the North Texas Fairgrounds on Saturday, March 13.
The Cut Off: They toured with Old 97s and have been lauded in "best of" articles in multiple DFW publications, and we still haven't made it to one of their shows. Still, after listening to most of Packaged Up For Beginners for nearly two years, we're making plans to see The Fort's celebrated sons. Catch them on Thursday, March 11 at The Hydrant.
Idol Records
The Crash That Took Me: Sometimes described as "dreampop," this seven-piece outfit is the right fit for people looking for references to Sgt. Pepper or Mellon Collie. Crash seems like they're one Gossip Girl song usage away from being "big." Catch them on Thursday, March 11 at Hailey's.
Mount Righteous
Mount Righteous: This collection of Grapevine musicians includes a tuba player -- but they don't play polka. Their happy brand of raucous sound defines the community of music. Seriously, you'll be clapping, singing, and genuinely smiling through the set. Catch them at Andy's on Friday, March 12.
Kirtland Records
Smile Smile: Much has been made of the duo's breakup fueled release "Truth on Tape," but we think it's the strong songwriting that makes Smile Smile a worthy listen, live or on "Tape." Catch them at The Boiler Room on Sunday, March 14.
Dem Southernfolkz: Rap blessed with gospel influences, Dem Southernfolkz stand out as an authentic taste of what Dallas brings to the mic. Refreshingly different from the auto-tuned nonsense spat out by overproduced MCs, these guys are put the "real" back in really talented. Catch them at Andy's on Sunday, March 14.
Mike Simpson
This Will Destroy You: No vocals, no problem. The instrumental San Marcos quartet has had some ambient tracks hit film trailers and tv shows, and as they've just wrapped recording of their second album, Tunnel Blanket, the NX35 show should have some new tunes for avid fans to enjoy. Catch them Thursday, March 11 at Hailey's
Nicholas Altobelli: Soft, acoustic indie folk from Altobelli is best caught in the intimatcy provided by a coffee shop stage. NX35 organizers seem to agree, booking him at the Jupiter House Coffee shop on Denton's square. Could be the sleeper hit of the show. Catch him at Jupiter House on Friday, March 12.
Ben Shawver
Damaged Good$: They could just be the next big thing in hip-hop. Blending slick electronic beats with great flow, this duo should definitely be heard on national radio. Not just Good$, they're great. Catch them at Andy's on Sunday, March 14.
Jason Upshaw
Doug Burr: Forget the so-called "country" from Brad Paisley, Burr's independent, folksy country blend would make Waylon Jennings proud. Both times we've seen him, Burr wasn't the headliner...but he was always the best part of the show. Catch him Thursday, March 11 at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern.
Force Field PR
Neon Indian: Pitchfork, Spin, and others have jumped on Neon Indian bandwagon, so it's certain this will be a packed show from the electro maestro that used to call Denton home. It's still worth battling the cramped quarters to be in the mix for this party, at least based on the reports we've heard from the last DFW outing. Catch the show at Rubber Gloves Rehersal Studios on Sunday, March 14.
Sleep Whale
Sleep Whale: Previously known as Mom, the folks behind Sleep Whale know how to create atmospheric sounds that blend strings of all sorts with enveloping effects to create compositions that sound like scores for the movies in your dreams. Promising, local, and still brimming with new ideas, we're looking forward to whatever they do next. Catch them on Friday, March 12 at Andy's.
Jill Johnson
Telegraph Canyon: Sometimes we play a roulette game to see if we can tell the difference between Telegraph Canyon songs and ones from the Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, or Shout Out Louds. Fans of that sound will want to ride the wave of popularity this Fort Worth band is on. Your Seattle friends will be sad to miss this show. Catch them at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on Saturday, March 13.
Kaitlin Wilde
The Phuss: It's hard not to summarize The Phuss as a harder version of The White Stripes, but that wouldn't be fair to the two-piece drum and guitar combo. Fleming and Alfaro are much closer to hard rock than White and White are, easily injecting a Queens of the Stone Age influence into the band and twang instrumentation. Foot stomping likely, head banging guarenteed. Catch them at Cold Fusion Lounge on Friday, March 12.
Bill Ellison
Oso Closo: Having a burrito named after you is one way to get national attention, but we'd prefer those who order a tasty steak wrap from Chipotle also order Oso Closo's 2009 release "Today is Beauty's Birthday." There's plenty to love about the close bear. Catch them at The Boiler Room on Saturday, March 13.
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