Music lovers from all over the world gathered in Austin, Texas March 13-18 for SXSW Music Festival.
The annual festival made up of five days is essentially a breeding ground for musicians, writers and bloggers, as well as those who are generally interested in music. This year’s festival was full of nostalgia acts like 50 Cent who performed his classic album, Get Rich or Die Trying . Other nostalgia acts included Eminem, Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Beanie Siegel who all made cameo appearances.
Artists performed along street corners and held impromptu sets at local venues and even houses. Of those artists performing, there were a great amount of artists who should be looked into: Kimbra, Red Pill, Clear Soul Forces, and Allen Stone just to name a few. Also, a lot of veteran artists gave free shows like The Roots who played for a crowd along with newcomer Gary Clark Jr. This years festival was a must attend event for several different reasons, which you will find below.
The Circus March 14-15th
The two-day showcase The Circus presented by Brooklyn Bodega and The Couch Sessions kicked off the SXSW music festival at Gypsy Lounge. The indoor/outdoor venue served as the perfect venue for the eclectic blend of artists featured at the two-day event.
The first day of the event brought out performances by artists like: Miles Bonny, Carlitta Durand, Rockwell Knuckles and more. Particular highlights on the first day began first with singer Miguel, who’s band also included Brook D’Leau of Los Angeles based duo J*DaVeY.For his performance, Miguel wore suspenders and came out with a great energy that included him ungracefully jumping on the speakers as they wobbled for some time. He performed fan favorites during his set like his debut single, “Sure Thing.”
The next highlight came from Stones Throw Records trio The Stepkids . The trio performed music from their self-titled debut album and provided a great set complete with lots of soul. London import Alice Russell followed the trio and took the audience to church with her powerful voice. The singer who is on the brink of releasing her full-length collaborative album with producer Quantic , performed a live set with San Francisco based group The Park and left a lasting impression on the crowd.
New Zealand trio Electric Wire Hustle were another highlight during the showcase as they performed music from their album Every Waking Hours. Despite experiencing many technical difficulties during their set, the trio performed all of the crowd’s favorites: “Chaser,” “Again,” and “Perception.” The trio was followed by 1/3 of Diamond District and Mello Music Group producer/emcee Oddisee . For his set, Oddisee began with a rap about being a Sudanese American, as well as just a Black American in general with real nice metaphors, and concepts. When he began doing his real official set, Oddisee went between classic songs from his discography like, “Different Now,” from his Year In project, as well as new music from his upcoming release People Hear What They See which will be entering stores later this year.
On the first day however, The Bad Rabbits stole the show with their unique blend of hip-hop and rock. The group, made up of a drummer, three guitar players and a vocalist came to the stage with great energy even jumping out onto the stage and doing synchronized dance steps with one another.
For day two of The Circus, the headlining artist was emcee Pharoahe Monch who brought out legendary female emcee Jean Grae. With any Monch set, you can expect three things: lots of energy, the right selection of songs to make the crowd move, and to hear his classic, “Simon Says.” For Monch’s set, all things were present. Monch performed some of his older material, as well as music from his latest release W.A.R (We Are Renegades). Monch gave a great show despite Jean Grae telling audience members that they were essentially boring.
The Fader Fort March 14-18
The four-day Fader Fort hosted by Fader Magazine and sponsored by Converse and Vitamin Water brought out all the SXSW hipsters in this official free/wristband only entrance showcase.
The-Dream, an artist you may not expect to see at The Fader Fort or SXSW , performed his chart-topping “Falsetto,” and popular “Walking on the Moon,” (perhaps a nod to The Police). Although the crowd appreciated the performance, it came across as a bit random.
Black Hippy made of Los Angeles based emcees Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock represented well for the Left Coast during their headlining performance at The Fader Fort. Following greats from the region like Tupac, Snoop Dogg, NWA and etc, the Black Hippy leave off where they did however adding in their own unique personalities and stories. Their set was what some would consider to be epic—full of great lyrics, interesting stage personas and lots of “Hiii Power.” With their set, they showed exactly why they were headlining a show.
On Saturday, producer SBTKRT who really set the world on fire with his single, “Wildfire,” featuring Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, and was later remixed by Drake started the first highlighting set of the day. He set, which included vocals from frequent collaborator Sampha was a great set from start to finish. The set consisted of great energy and the way the songs were arranged during the set only made the anticipation and momentum build throughout the whole set. SBTKRT ended the set with “Wildfire,” but turned it into a dub-step like remix which only made the song sound that much better live.
The final performer at the Fader Fort, was an impromptu surprise set from Rick Ross . Ross came on a private jet to the festival and performed 13-songs as the closing act of the event. His set consisted of music from his four album discography notably: “BMF,” and “Hustlin.” The crowd went crazy as soon as Ross entered the stage, throughout his set and when his set was over. This set made for perhaps one of the best surprises at SXSW in general.
Vibe House- Respect The West – March 17th
Vibe Magazine joined up with Adidas and Cashmere Agency for a night full of West Coast music with their “Respect the West,” showcases Saturday Night at Kiss-N-Fly. The two-floor venue was packed to say the least, with individuals awaiting their chance to see the promising talent coming out of California.
The showcase was perfectly balanced as it showcased artists from both Northern California and Southern California. With just one female performer that night, Rocky Riveria, the showcase was full of some unknown artists such as: Six, Stereotypes, and Roccettjust to name a few, but nonetheless the showcase was a pretty nice representation of the West Coast music scene.
Highlights for the showcase came first with Inglewood bred emcee Skeme, who has been making a pretty big name for himself in and out of the West Coast with cosigns from artists like Pac Div, Dom Kennedy, as well as XXL Magazine. Skeme’s short set consisted of three or four songs, each showing off his lyrical content as well as his production that is top-notch shown with his song “Krazy,” from his latest musical installment, The Statement.
The next highlight came from Bay Area based rapper Mistah FAB who was asked to freestyle during another artists’ set. Typically, Mistah FAB music is a little on the now dead “hyphy movement” side, exploring topics of Yellow Buses and etc. However, he is a freestyle champion and known to go for long periods of time which he did this night. Mistah Fab actually did a great freestyle and surprised a lot of people. Los Angeles based trio Pac Div came to the stage with perhaps the most energy the whole night—throwing water on the audience and climbing on speakers. Despite being based in Los Angeles Pac Div has been able to expand their reach outside of the region with songs like the addictive “Mayor,” from their album Church League Champions. The trio had a high energy set and made everyone in the venue dance and rap along.
Overall, SXSW was a great event especially for all music lovers or musicians out there. There are so many free events for music lovers to attend which is both amazing and a little overwhelming. If you plan to attend the festival next year, make sure to visit SXSW’s official website here as dates for next year have already been announced, also, make sure to invest in comfortable shoes.