Things don't always go as you plan them at SXSW. It's fine to have a schedule, sure, but it's even more important to be able to adjust on the fly. The lines are long and the distances can be, too, and they both can foil your best laid plans. So it was that I did not see Foxygen's set at Red 7 Thursday night as planned, but did stumble into a meeting and handshake with Chuck D following Public Enemy's set at the Bold Stage before sticking around for Ice Cube. My 13 year old self would be ecstatic, but the current version was pretty good with it, too.
Am I here to see Ice Cube? Well, no, but I couldn't really pass up the chance, either. The iconic co-founder of N.W.A. turned solo hip-hop star turned actor played through a set that included classics like "Straight Outta Compton," and "It Was a Good Day," and a tribute to the late Nate Dogg as part of an all old-school bill that also included Doug E. Fresh, Public Enemy, and LL Cool J.
Big names on corporate stages are more common than ever at the festival, a fact that at times clashes with both the old guard and the DIY ethic embraced by so many artists of indiedom. DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith stirred it up earlier in the day with some choice words on his band's Tumblr, saying in part, "Here, the music comes last. 5 minute set-up, no sound check, 15 minute set. The “music” element is all a front, it’s the first thing to be compromised. Corporate money everywhere but in the hands of the artists, at what is really just a glorified corporate networking party. Drunk corporate goons and other industry vampires and cocaine."
Nevertheless, his band's been all over Austin this week sounding fantastic, including Thursday's Fader Fort set (sponsored by Converse™), which Smith closed by graciously thanking sponsors.
Seemingly light years away from all of that, The Polyphonic Spree spread joy and postivity into the wee hours at The Main (I mean, really). Tim DeLaughter's ever-colorful, robed troupe numbered 18 Thursday, sounding fantastic while spanning their catalog, including songs from the new album out in May. DeLaughter spilled into the crowd for a raucous take on "Light & Day/Reach for the Sun" before the most up-with-people version of Nirvana's "Lithium" you'll ever hear closed the show. -JP
One of the best (and alas, worst) things about SXSW is seeing so many major acts up close and personal even if it means seeing them in the rather sterile confines of the convention center's Day Stage. Surfer-pop band Cayucas tried, really tried, to stir the placid audience to life and sounded great doing it. I missed hearing them when they opened for Ra Ra Riot last month in Portland. I wouldn't pass up the chance to hear their percussive, Beach Boys laden sound when they come back as headliners. It's a very entertaining up and coming band. -- David Christensen
Thursday offered both the star-studded Daptone showcase at ACL Live, and a Merge Records showcase at iconic venue The Parish. Durham, North Carolina country-rockers Mount Moriah played a great set, with Heather McEntyre's clear voice riding over Jenks Miller's wiry and muscular guitar lines. Seattle's Telekinesis played an impressively energetic set, barely pausing between songs, before Shout Out Louds closed out the night with another infectiously fun show, making it easy to stay put in one venue. -- DC
See our full photo set, including Charles Bradley, Shout Out Louds, Phosphorescent and more HERE.
Tagged: SXSW 2013