SXSW awarded the second annual Grulke Prizes to Future Islands, The Strypes and Damon Albarn on Tuesday, March 18.

The Grulke Prize is awarded in three categories: the Developing US Act, Developing Non-US Act and the Career Act. It was developed in 2013 in honor of Brent Grulke, who worked tirelessly as the longtime SXSW Music Festival Creative Director. Grulke died in August of 2012, and the award winners are determined by a jury of music critics, professionals and SXSW staff who worked with Grulke himself.

Future Islands, winners of the Developing US Act, is a trio, originally from Baltimore, that is releasing its first label album Singles on March 25. The band appeared on David Letterman, making their television debut on late night, and gaining a bit of buzz before their appearance at SXSW. You can listen to their entire debut album here.


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Developing Non-US Act winner, The Strypes, is composed of four teenage boys from Ireland. The rockers reportedly count Elton John as one of their fans. Their debut album is currently available on iTunes.

Finally, the winner of the Grulke Prize for Career Act is Damon Albarn, a prolific musician who made a name for himself as the lead singer for Blur and part of Gorillaz. Albarn performed a solo set at SXSW to promote his debut solo album, Everyday Robots, to be released in April. During his performance, Albarn was joined by Gorillaz collaborators Del the Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Dan the Automator and Snoop Dog all appeared alongside Albarn at the festival, joining him to end the night with a highly anticipated performance of “Clint Eastwood.”

“We’ve never performed this song in its purest form ever, and we may never perform it again ever,” Albarn declared before the group began the historic performance.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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