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SXSW: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

So you’ve decided to make the flight to Austin to see HITS prexy Karen Glauber’s always hotly anticipated I Wrote That Song panel. For the panel’s fifth anniversary, a murderer’s row will flank Karen on the dais to discuss tunesmithing and sing a ditty or two: Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf, pictured), Chapel Hill legend Chris Stamey (long ago of the dBs), Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Mac McCaughan (Merge Records/Superchunk) It promises to be 60 minutes of wall-to-wall thrills and enlightenment 3/16, Austin Convention Center, Room 16AB, 3:30-4:30.

Mind blown, how can the rest of SXSW be filled? For starters, Spotify and Apple Music are taking their battle for your soul to Austin, and each will cast a large shadow on the Texas capital.

Spotify has partnered with SXSW to curate music from artists who are performing at the event, both through its own app as well as on SXSW Go.

Apple Music is sending out the big guns. Creative Director Zane Lowe is delivering a keynote (3/16 Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABCD, 11 am-noon).  Lowe and the Beats 1 crew will also broadcast from Apple Music House. Platter patterers include Apple hosts Julie Adenuga, Matt Wilkinson and Ebro Darden.

Featured speakers include Garth Brooks, former VP Joe Biden and astronaut Buzz Aldrin; and a must-see panel celebrates the life and legacy of Prince. “Birth of a Purple Nation” features former bandmates Andre Cymone, Dez Dickerson, former manager Owen Hunsley and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, all of whom will doubtless wax poetic about His Purple Badness.

If you need to know what’s really hot at SXSW, the digital agency Bolster has developed THEAUSTIN.BUZZ, an app that determines the buzziest bands based on real-time data from various social media. Taking volume, engagement and influence into account, THEAUSTIN.BUZZ uses a specialized algorithm to determine which artists are trending, just in case you need to be where it’s at.

Hungry? Los Pollos Hermanos, Gus Fring’s Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul chicken chain, opens as a popup joint today through 3/12. 122 W. 5th Street, NE corner of 5th/Colorado.

Then there’s the music. Intrepid correspondent Jeff Leven will blast the 4-1-1 on Monday in this space with all the highlights. But here are a few bands to keep on the shortlist.

The UK’s Sundara Karma are young, loud and snotty. They make three SXSW stops to kick out the ready-made arena anthems from their debut, Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect (RCA). 3/17 Stubbs, 7:30 pm; Buffalo Billiards, 11:40; 3/18, Latitude 30, midnight.

 Mason James bolted from Cerebral Ballzy to do some creative stretching. The result is Zipper Club, an ear-catching retro-modern collab with Lissy Trullie. Their debut Epic single, “Going the Distance” made serious strides on Alternative radio. With a James Iha-produced album in the works, they’ll be showing what they’re made of  3/15 at 11 pm at Javelina.

Both a haunting electropop duo and microbrewers, In the Valley Below are truly a double threat. They return to the scene of their first triumph (Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail debuted at SXSW in 2011) with a trio of gigs, including 3/14 Blackheart, 11 pm; 3/17 Whole Foods Rooftop Plaza, 5 pm; and 3/18 Javelina, 1 am.

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