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Monday, June 14, 2021
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The South by Southwest music festival always offers a wide array of musical acts of the highest quality.

Follow the Flock: Michael Makowski's insights on SXSW 2019 artists

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Rico Nasty is an American rapper whose shows are a performance of ferocity that demand attention and participation. She can be many things on stage: caustic, forceful, witty and empathetic. She engages the audience with calls to a mosh pit and embraces star-struck fans.  Rico Nasty has disarmingly powerful stage presence, and her performance is a celebration of her journey toward self-confidence.


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KOKOKO! is a Congolese group that makes banging rhythms on upcycled, homemade instrumental artworks. The artist and musician collective merge traditional African rhythms with modern DJ and electronic music production in an innovative way that forces the audience to embrace the beat and give to dance. Their performance is exciting, raw and electrifying.


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Hubert Lenoir is a wild and jazzy act from Quebec, Canada. Think a French-Canadian Foxygen. Their debut album, Darlène, is a self-declared “post-modern opera” and tells the story of a suburban woman in Quebec City who falls in love with a suicidal American man to sweeping, bilingual music. Their performance is more narrative showmanship than it is a standard pop-rock concert. Water-spitting, scaffold-climbing, mic-throwing — this band is ecstatic, theatrical energy.


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Haley Heynderickx is an American singer-songwriter from Portland, Oregon who makes introspective, sincere music. Although accompanied in her album with an array of instruments, she performed alone with only an acoustic guitar in a quiet SXSW venue above a bar, tucked away in the middle of boisterous Sixth Street. Alone on the stage, she decried the modern music industry of its obsession with streaming counts and exploitative personalities. She is a testament that quiet and sometimes tender music can reach feelings of rage and self-inadequacy.


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Mountain Man is a trio of folk singers who met during their college years in Vermont. The three women make unassuming folk music that, as their name might imply, hints at the traditional American folk style of Appalachia. Their friendship was felt from the stage as they embraced one another and engaged the audience, chatting with the frontmost audience members.  “Where are your hats?” they asked, reminding people to take care of themselves in the hot, Texas sun and urging them to drink water. With closed eyes and angelic harmonies, Mountain Man was the excellent pairing to a warm spring day.


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Lizzo is an American rapper, singer and songwriter who makes empowering and incredibly catchy music. Her performance is an expression of self-love, and in her songs she implores people to find acceptance of themselves in the journey that Lizzo goes on with her music. At one point, she turned her back to the audience, asking them to show “some love for her back-fat.” Her support of body-acceptance and size-inclusivity is not only evident in her music, but in her stage presence. Together with plus-sized dancers flanking her sides, she sings and dances in a way that leaves the audience animated and beaming.


Michael Makowski is a senior staff contributor and photographer for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.

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