The 2010s went by in a blur, and before we knew it, the musical landscape of San Antonio had shifted in major ways.
Fueling that change were local artists who impressed us with their innovative sounds, attention-grabbing showmanship, hard work and solid releases. While there were scores of artists creating amazing music in San Antonio, these 20 helped define the decade.
1. Milli Mars
Rapper Milli Mars haunts beats with his rumbling baritone delivery. Ferocity meets eloquence with this emcee who has always shouted out San Antonio in his music and makes it clear that he calls the Alamo City home.
2. Nina Diaz
Former Girl in a Coma frontwoman Nina Diaz branched off from her punk-rock roots to let her pop influences shine with her solo work.
3. Wayne Holtz
Wayne Holtz really lived up to his self-description as a “pop star.” Before relocating to LA in 2019, the flamboyant singer made sure each performance was filled with captivating choreography, costume changes and lyrics that made you say, “Did he really just say that?”
Joseph Anger’s project MVTANT fused grimy industrial beats with brooding post-punk vocals to a dramatic and chilling effect.
Sad, acoustic, dreamy and did we mention sad? The Elliott Smith-inspired Demitasse — a side project for Buttercup’s Joe Reyes and Erik Sanden — released a string of impressive records through the 2010s.
Post-punk and industrial, Filthy brought the dance to the graveyard with haunting beats and echoing guitar riffage.
7. Lonely Horse
Although the band is no more, Nicholas Long was arguably the best local frontman of the 2010s, throwing himself over his guitar as he shot soul-inspired blues riffs over Travis Hild’s slamming groove-heavy drumming.
After getting her start fronting indie-rock band Octahedron, Elena Lopez let the world see her sad and sleepy side with the bedroom pop project Elnuh.
9. Nothing More
Aside from nabbing three 2018 Grammy nominations for its impressive record The Stories We Tell Ourselves, rock band Nothing More pushed its music with relentless touring for more than a decade. And the payoff for that roadwork shows: their live show is nothing to fuck with.
10. Third Root
Hip-hop trio Third Root brought conscious raps and expert flows to iconic beats, challenging South Texas’ history of systemic racism, prejudice and injustice along the way.
11. Garret T. Capps
It’s not every day an artist lands a song on a high-profile TV show. But that’s just what happened with alt-country singer Garret T. Capps, whose “Born in San Antone” appeared on the season premiere of the Showtime show Billions. Plenty of well-deserved attention followed.
12. Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson
Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson, who graced the cover of the Current
a few years back, is a rapper, poet, singer, community activist and teacher. Let’s just say, everything she touches turns to gold.
13. Deer Vibes
With like 29 members — OK, it’s more like 12, but still — Deer Vibes is less a band than an indie-rock orchestra led by Michael Carillo, owner of the bar and venue Ventura. Deer Vibes weaves infectious melodies using a multitude of instruments for a sound that’s triumphant and amazing.
14. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
Experimental as fuck. Heavy as fuck. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is a smart metal band that continue to evolve and showcase multiple dimensions of its sound with each new release.
Clean but metal-inspired guitar riffs loop over groove-heavy drumming to define instrumental band Verisimilitude’s uniquely psychedelic flavor. With more than a decade in the game, this trio helped define the San Antonio Sound.
Fea, the project launched by the bassist and drummer of Girl in a Coma, went for more of a raucous punk vibe than the members’ previous project. Along the way, the band gained plenty of attention for its anthemic Riot Grrrl sound.
17. Claire Rousay
Although Claire Rousay played drums for numerous projects through the 2010s, including Buttercup, she’s best known for her experimental work, which draws in listeners via her unconventional approach. Rousay’s percussion performances explore her instruments’ many textures and use the acoustics of the room she’s in to paint elaborate sound sculptures.
Formed by members of rock outfit Blowing Trees, the band matched Arcade Fire-inspired indie riffs with Motown R&B and soul for an amalgam that landed frontman Edwin Stephens and friends a sold-out show at Sam’s Burger Joint to celebrate the release of their debut release, a double EP showcasing the two sides of the band.
19. Darian Thomas
Although now based in Brooklyn, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Thomas’ contributions to San Antonio music through the 2010s. Aside from playing with Femina-X, Deer Vibes and the Foreign Arm, Thomas also launched his own project, Saturn Skies, and dazzled audiences with expert violin performances in YOSA.
20. Alyson Alonzo
Pairing soulful croons with electronic beats that she loops onstage, Alyson Alonzo dominated the 2010s. Beyond music festival appearances, her resume included singing the national anthem at a Spurs game and receiving a standing ovation at her Tobin Center debut.
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