South by South West (SXSW) 25th Anniversary was a shit show of music, fans, and characters. Forgive me if we spare you the details, and decide instead to cut the filler and get into the meat. These are the bands we heard, even for a moment, with a short reaction.
Reaction: Daedelus, born Alfred, continues to wear button down clothes that are far too hot for the occasion. We realize that regal and sweaty is a look, but it’s a far cry from comfortable. Using his monome box he creates (or recreates?) his music live for audiences, while animating his gestures for a more “entertaining” spectacle. We argued whether this was a true feat and agreed to disagree.
Daedelus “Order of The Golden Dawn”
Toro Y Moi
Reaction: Chaz is a very small man with a whole lot of soul. While the acoustics were SO loud that we had to plug our ears (and yes we are old, but not THAT old) his new album Underneath The Pine affirms he’s a talent to follow. His style has moved away from the glitch and effects focusing on instrumental harmonies.
Toro Y Moi: “Blinded”
Har Mar Superstar
Reaction: He’s old news. We don’t care that he’s old news. He’s one of the most impressive, engaging, fun, and entertaining performers there. It’s not just about his music. It’s about his showmanship.
Har Mar Superstar: “EZ Pass”
Reaction: See Gayngs below. Solid Gold were spectacular individually. For any fan of 80s late-night synth pop rock this is more than satiable.
Solid Gold: “Who You Gonna Run To?
Reaction: Ryan Olson’s concept that each song was written at 69 beats per minute (BPM) worried us. That’s a slow pace. How wrong we were. The lush sound of vocals, saxophone and synthesizer made for a soulful timbre. By far this was one of our favorite performances of the entire weekend.
Gayngs: “The Walker”
Foster The People
Reaction: Foster The People is a metaphor for the industries harvesting of new talents in fashion of Justin Bieber. Same haircut. New Kids on The Block appeal. No thanks.
Foster The People: “Pumped Up Kicks”
*Note: Vocalist and keyboardist, Mark Foster, did not add the effects to his voice during his rendition of “Pumped Up Kicks”*
Reaction: We only heard “Living In America” which we’re told is his big single. Based solely on that–this is someone to keep your eyes on. Can there be a dark horse in music, or are we just so fixated on March Madness?
DOM: “Living In America”
Reaction: Everyone exclaims that SXSW is where you discover a band you’ve never heard of. For us, Givers was said band. Givers are from Lafayette, LA (corrected) and sound like a blend of Local Natives with electronic pop. They swoosh down with synthesizers, then rise with bubbling, bright harmonic layers, concocting a fresh twist on an over-indulged (indie pop) style these days. Really–they’re worth a listen.
Givers: “Saw You First”
Reaction: We’ve been waiting for the chance to catch Friendly Fires having heard so much acclaim. We missed then in San Francisco after they sold-out The Independent on back to back nights. Now we understand why. Lead vocalist, Ed Macfarlane, has what you call a “stage presence.” He dances like Napolean Dynamite and sings like a drunk mad man! This group could rock an arena. Their sound is big like a never ending soul train of cow bells, horns, and funk. Granted, the soundman messed up their set–which only is a further testament of how good they CAN be.
Friendly Fires: “Jump In The Pool”
Reaction: Blueprint is the quintessential “backpack” rapper. We hate that label. He’s got a following that has stuck to his poetic, lyrical word play for years–and they love it–and probably will be the only ones to love it. We had been told earlier this year that his style has changed, but given the small crowd–we’d say no one noticed or well, it hasn’t.
Blueprint: “Keep Bouncing”
Reaction: Now we’re more than a little bias when it comes to Pharoahe because he’s in our top 10 emcees–period. For those that don’t know the name, the man, check back soon because we had the pleasure of speaking with him. His performance was fantastic. As a vocalist, he annunciates his words so that even with the ferocity at which he raps, his lyrics are still lucid. His engagement with the crowd kept the hands bobbing throughout the set. This is hip hop from the style, to the respect paid during the set to the DJ. Any hip hop artist trying to learn about hip hop, should take notes at a Pharoahe Monch show. Make sure to check out his new album (featured above) called W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)
Pharoahe Monche ft. Immortal Technique and Vernon Reid: “W.A.R.”
Asher Roth and Nottz
Reaction: Simply, Asher Roth is a talented emcee (forget racial comparisons to Eminem) but his material (at least on this night) wreaked of a pop order that suggests he needs to get his creativity back and tell off his label.
Asher Roth: “Trash Minutes”
Reaction: Really can’t say more than they were drunk as hell, slurring words, and hard to understand–is Das Racist?
Das Racist ft. Chairlift: “Fashion Party”