Day four of SXSW.
And I’ve learnt that, “A space has opened up that has allowed people who aren’t white males to write about music,” from journalist Chuck Eddy. It’s nice to be acknowledged.
Being a Thursday, the main streets are jam-packed with people. It feels like a giant party, with groups of people carrying speakers around with them as they dance down the lanes and rowdiness permeating from the concrete up to the balconies of bar.
Austin locals are damn lucky. They may have to deal with the traffic, but isn’t having a party this big roll through your city for two weeks every year worth that and more?
Zane Lowe – Music Keynote
New Zealand-born Zane Lowe being from a far-flung country, even more remote than Australia, to the traditional centres of commercial music is utterly relatable. In his keynote, he takes the audience on his musical journey from when he was six years old discovering local record shops, all the way to Apple – via Beastie Boys, MySpace, Nirvana and terrestrial radio. His enthusiasm for radio communication makes for an inspiring story.
Khruangbin – House of Vans at Mohawk
When introduced, the drummer of Khruangbin performs an “anti-drum solo” – also known as silence. They finish the set with a self-described “hit it and quit it” five seconds of intense jamming. The first thing I heard when walking into this set is the guitarist saying that some people get Khruangbin, and some people just don’t. I think after this set, I have fallen into the former.
Betty Who – House of Vans at The Mohawk
Betty Who and her two back-up dancers energise the stage with aerobic dance moves and flirtatious plays (but it’s OK, Betty Who “runs HR”).
Hockey Dad – Aussie BBQ at Brush Square
Even while on the other side of the world, I know I’m at an Australian showcase when tops are off and there’s still a small collection of guys at the front of the pit trying to form a circle of death. The drummer of Hockey Dad is going absolutely HAM on the drums. These kids have some raw young talent.
Tkay Maidza – Pandora House at The Gatsby
I know there are dozens of other artists showcasing at the same time, but I just need to see Tkay Maidza again. She’s teamed Texan leather cowboy pants with a pink hoodie and is somehow pulling it off. Let’s not forget that the team behind Tkay is just as great as she is. Her producer is chopping and changing the music rapidly, at points dropping in Flume‘s ‘Hyperparadise’ remix and RL Grime and What So Not‘s ‘Tell Me’ while Tkay raps over it.
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra – Maggie Mae’s
While watching Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra setting up on stage, their booking agent standing next to me says, “They’re going to blow your fucking mind”. Expectations are now set but are very quickly met. The rooftop venue is brimming and literally shaking with people losing their shit to the carnage on stage. These guys know how to freaking party and receive the first request for an encore I’ve seen all week.
Moses Boyd Exodus – Elephant Room
A little classy venue hides London jazz-fusion band Moses Boyd Exodus. I feel like I’m in a different world in comparison to the chaotic venues currently lining 6th St. There is a fair amount of hype surrounding these guys; showcasing a fresh take on jazz, they may be heading on the same trajectory as BadBadNotGood‘s success.
Hanson – Tulsa Music Showcase at Bungalow
I never thought I’d ever see Hanson live, let alone at SXSW, but here I am. I also have never thought much about the music of Tulsa, but here I am at a Tulsa music showcase. Apparently there have been bribes up to $200 to skip to the front of the line and I definitely see a few passionate outbursts while waiting. I guess this really is an iconic retro music moment for a lot of people. Probably should have expected though, ‘Mmmbop’ was anti-climactic. Trivia fact of the day: Hanson produced a beer for the band’s 21st anniversary called Mmmhops.
Short sets are very much the norm at SXSW, which has been great in maximising the amount of music one sees every day. These fun-sized sets give artists a chance to showcase their best work in truly all killer, no filler sets.
Over the halfway mark!