With the music section of SXSW officially underway, musicians have already started bringing their A-game across the gorgeous city of Austin, Texas.
After walking nearly eight miles on Monday, I was sore, tired and eager to see some music. Mohawk Theater was the first venue I visited. With the line to get into the venue stretching around the corner of the opposite block, there was no question that the showcase was going to be a spectacle.
Christy & Hawley, a small electronic duo with ‘80s sensibilities, popped on stage first with a spectacular combo of energy and showmanship—a great way to get the crowd riled up. Hawley’s voice had phenomenal range that made for an interesting dynamic with Christy’s heavy and booming electronic production.
After Christy & Hawley’s brief set ended, I was bamboozled to see a group of 40-year-olds run on stage with long hair and leather jackets. On tour following the reunion of their band, Bash & Pop played some very loud, in-your-face rock n’ roll. Throughout the set, I could barely understand what the lyrics were. I’m not sure if it was because I lost my hearing from how loud the show was or if it was because the levels were off. Either way, the middle-aged men and women in the crowd were clearly having a great time.
Milwaukee stars GGOOLLDD (pronounced how you’d normally say “gold”) took the showcase to new levels when they started their show. Margaret Butler, the vocalist of the group, had more energy than almost any other show I’ve ever seen. Their set has definitely been a highlight of the week.
Because of the dreadful weather conditions in the midwest at the time, Lizzo wasn’t able to make it to her set following GGOOLLDD, so Har Mar Superstar from Minnesota filled in. If you’re ever hoping to see a 39-year-old man wearing patterned leggings, taking his shirt off and doing headstands on stage while singing with a spectacular range, this is the man to watch out for. His energy was infectious. If people weren’t dancing along, they were standing, stuck in a state of awe because of his performance.
Hip-hop’s growing star, Noname, brought out her light-hearted, impeccable flow as the sun set upon the outdoor stage. She is the kind of artist who makes you feel like you can spill all of your problems to her when you need advice. She gives off an aura of trustworthiness, conveyed through her captivating stage presence.
It was my second time seeing her live. I thought she was untouchable the first time, but after seeing her under the moonlight and twinkling stars, I can’t imagine a better setting to witness her captivating shows.
Day two brought mesmerizing shows from the hip-hop world and those who have taken music to new, often haunting places.
Kendrick Lamar collaborator Anna Wise played a spellbinding set in one of the most intimate venues I’ve ever stepped foot in. Magenta-colored lights lit up her face, making her seem like a spirit from another world. If you haven’t heard the song “B---hSlut,” listen to it immediately because it is a perfect example of how she uses music to address the double standards for men and women and their sexuality.
If you like dark, layered vocals that are mixed live with a vocal loop, you’ll fall in love with Anna Wise instantly, just as I did.
The final show of the night is a page right out of the ‘90s. Erykah Badu and Wu-Tang Clan both made appearances at ACL Live.
With a history of being notoriously late, Erykah Badu showed up almost an hour after her scheduled set time, which was a simple DJ set. Yes, she played some good songs and, yes, she commanded the stage with her presence, but there was still a lack of satisfaction when she left the stage. Unfortunately, that same lack of satisfaction carried over to Wu-Tang Clan’s set.
There hasn’t been a Wu-Tang Clan show with the entire original group since Ol’ Dirty Bastard died in 2004. Nearly every time the group has been booked in recent years, someone from the Clan hasn’t showed up. Tuesday night was no different.
Maybe it’s because the group doesn’t have the same chemistry anymore, but the show seemed disjointed and forced at times. It was crazy to see legends like RZA and GZA live, but they’re undoubtedly past their prime.
As the week picks up, more up-and-coming artists will have their chances to shine before the big stars emerge on stage to finish each night.