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SXSW Music critics' picks: Who to see Friday

Eric Webb,Peter Blackstock
Japanese Breakfast, the solo musical project of Michelle Zauner, performs on the Miller Lite stage Barton Springs on day two of weekend one of the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on Saturday Oct. 6th, 2018. [Erika Rich for American-Statesman]

Our critics picked their can't-miss artists for each night of SXSW. Here's the best of Friday.


8 p.m. Billy Strings: In his mid-20s, the hot Nashville picker plays bluegrass but colors well outside the lines with psychedelic overtones and punk-rock energy onstage. (Scoot Inn)

9 p.m. Robert Ellis: On “Texas Piano Man,” the Houston-area native brilliantly recasts his identity from guitar-strumming troubadour to Elton John-inspired pop savant. (Mohawk outdoor)

10 p.m. Rembrandts: They’ll be there for you, yes, but Danny Wilde and Phil Solem were an accomplished pop pair before doing the “Friends” theme, and they warrant another look with a new album due this summer. (Lamberts)

11 p.m. John Paul White: Half of the Grammy-winning duo Civil Wars and a partner in the influential indie label Single Lock, White is reaching toward an orchestral countrypolitan sound on his new album due in April. (Cooper’s BBQ)

Midnight. Drivin N Cryin: Since the 1980s, Kevn Kinney’s Georgia outfit has transcended Southern-rock stereotypes with songs of profound wisdom set to music that’s equal parts country-folk and hard rock. (Continental Club)

1 a.m. Yvette Landry with Marcia Ball and Friends: Austin pianist Ball gets back to her roots with Landry and other Louisiana musicians to cap a Lafayette-sponsored night at the home of the blues. (Antone’s)


5:30 p.m. Thutmose: The Brooklyn rapper’s prominent placement on the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” soundtrack put him on the rise, but it’s his soulful flow and lyrical dexterity that will seal the deal. (Nuevo Leon)

6 p.m. Japanese Breakfast: A suppertime serenade from indie pop’s smartest chanteuse? Yes, please. (Container Bar)

8:30 p.m. Dungeon Family: The Dirty South titans host a hip-hop throwdown with Big Boi, Goodie Mob and Sleepy Brown, and the whole city is invited. (Auditorium Shores)

10 p.m. Pink Sweat$: The Philadelphia songwriter will smooth-croon his way into your heart with achingly vulnerable love songs and chilled-out party jams. (Lucille)

11 p.m. Cimafunk: The Afro-Cuban phenom plays a seductive blend of hard funk, Caribbean sounds and Afrobeat, with wicked rhythms that will leave no hips untwitched. (Flamingo Cantina)

12:40 a.m. Mr. Eazi: Already a star on his home continent and in Europe, the Nigerian Afrobeat artist is ready to storm the United States with his upbeat melodies and club-friendly dance beats. (Belmont)


2 p.m. Illuminati Hotties: This L.A. outfit opened for Lucy Dacus last month at Barracuda, which, yes. Trust: They’re a bolt of earnest SoCal lightning. Worth your while to catch one of their sets during the fest. (Container Bar)

5 p.m. Cherry Glazerr: One of the most buzzed-about rock bands of the past couple years, exploding with shreddy, jet-fueled firecrackers. (Container Bar)

6 p.m. Japanese Breakfast: Guess you’re spending the whole day at Container Bar, then. Michelle Zauner is the port in a storm of SXSW unknowns. Songs like “Body Is a Blade” will break your heart. Then she’ll put you back together with irrepressible verve on fizzy numbers like “Everybody Wants to Love You.” (Container Bar)

9 p.m. Sorry Girls: This pop band’s bio references shopping sprees, peanut M&Ms, Springsteen and “Twin Peaks.” After a few listens, honestly … yes. (Swan Dive patio)

12:20 a.m. Sir Babygirl: Kelsie Hogue’s album “Crush on Me,” released this year, is a sweet-and-sour bottle rocket that knocks you through time and space into a GeoCities-themed house party. If I could recommend her twice, I would. (Palm Door on Sabine)