By CHRIS TALBOTT
2014-03-11 11:42 PM
South By Southwest and the surrounding unaffiliated hoopla have slipped into hyperdrive as the music portion of the annual conference and festival opens this week.
Kanye West and Jay Z have announced they're headed to Austin, Texas, the cherry on top of a gloriously all-over-the-place gathering that also will feature Lady Gaga as a keynote speaker, Lil Wayne as an interview subject and 2,000 other acts vying for attention in the midst of the frenzy.
And there are still more surprises to come. Trust us.
Here are five things to look for in Austin -- besides a great enchilada:
GOO-GOO FOR GAGA: No one creates a spectacle like Lady Gaga and she's got her monster claws all over two days of the conference. She'll perform at the relatively intimate Stubb's on Thursday night before giving a keynote speech Friday morning. It's been a tough year for the pop provocateur, and SXSW offers her a chance to restart the conversation.
HIP TO THE HOP: In conference as in life, hip-hop is taking over at SXSW. There are so many rappers worth seeing it's impossible to list them all. A few: Kanye and Jay Z together, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Nas, 50 Cent, Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, 2 Chainz, Future, Action Bronson, Childish Gambino ... and don't forget ScHoolboy Q, who takes a victory lap in Austin after his new album opened at No. 1.
GRRRUNGE: Break out those hole-y jeans and fly that flannel, Soundgarden's going to party like it's 1994 on nostalgia night at the iTunes Festival. The grunge rockers celebrate the 20th anniversary of "Superunknown" by playing the landmark album live front to back for the first time. Dude.
TIME FOR 'RECESS': Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer Skrillex, the most identifiable face in the electronic dance music world, will be previewing new music as he kick-starts his album launch for "Recess" in Austin.
GO FIND IT: There are more than 2,000 chances to hear something cool in Austin. Wade through all the pop stars and publicity stunts and at its heart SXSW is still about discovery, falling in love with bands and sounds you've never heard before. Here are four promising acts to get your quest started: Scotland's We Were Promised Jetpack, Nashville's Clear Plastic Masks, Los Angeles duo Johnnyswim and Chicago's Chance the Rapper.
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott