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Tag: SXSW Festival (1-10 of 79)

SXSW: Rick Ross takes a victory lap, 2 Chainz closes out the weekend

The Syracuse hardcore band Perfect Pussy won the lion’s share of SXSW’s cool-kid attention. Destruction Unit put on some of the week’s most raucous shows. Bigger bands (well, relatively) like Speedy Ortiz, Cloud Nothings, Parquet Courts, and F—ed Up went above and beyond to put on a slew of killer parties.

But who cares about that crap, because Rick Ross has the No. 1 album in the country!!!! Did you know that Rick Ross has the No. 1 album in the country? If you didn’t, he and his hype man at the Fader Fort last night made sure to remind everyone over and over. And over.

As has been the trend for a few years now, Big Rap turned SXSW into its own game. The festival’s closing night drove that point home: Ross celebrated his chart-topping new record Mastermind by headlining Fader, A$AP Mob and Mobb Deep capped their own busy weeks at 1100 Warehouse, and 2 Chainz took over a showcase at Brazos Hall.

Clearly, it was a rap-heavy schedule, and that’s not even counting Jay And Kanye’s Samsung event Wednesday night or the shows by Future, Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, B.o.B., Nas, and, um, Ludacris.

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SXSW Saturday: Phantogram, and the end of a very weird week

After a long few days of indie rock, mixtape rap, pop stars playing small, and smoked meat, it was time to put a bow on the annual South By Southwest festival.

The schedule for Saturday night was strange. In the past, Saturday night shows have always been the biggest, but this year, a number of bands had already left town, and with the likes of Lady Gaga, Coldplay, and Kendrick Lamar having wrapped their high-profile performances, it left a hodgepodge of mid-level indie and hip-hop to send everyone off.

Enter Phantogram, an excellent computer-pop combo whose new album Voices gently nudges their sound towards an even wider audience than the one that picked up on their first buzz-band moment several years ago. Like an overwhelming number of the acts booked at SXSW, they are big enough to get booked on late-night TV but not quite big enough to be played on pop radio or fill larger venues. For a band like Phantogram, a solid showing at SXSW could mean an elevation to that next level. READ FULL STORY

SXSW Friday: Soundgarden, Green Day, and the search for something loud

With Lady Gaga and her bucking vomitron in my rearview, my personal goal for Friday at SXSW was to find some good old-fashioned, turned-to-11 rawk. I had already seen a lot of about-to-break indie, a handful of promising rappers, and one gigantic intergalactic pop star. Now it was time to find some volume.

Anybody who has read my tweets or been forced to sit outside my office for months at a time under the auspices of “work experience” (sorry, interns!) knows that I like things fast and loud, which often means in extreme metal. But punk, garage rock, prog — these are all things that will satisfy my jones, and I was determined to seek out as many opportunities to permanently damage my hearing as I could find.

The day opened at Stubb’s at the Spin magazine party, a tradition that stretches back more than a decade. This year’s bill featured a fine cross-section of indie rock and fringe rap, with a lineup that included Future, Cloud Nothings, Against Me!, and Schoolboy Q. But my main concern was Radkey, a group made up of three brothers (ages 16, 18, and 20) who grind out delightfully unhinged punk tunes that also owe a healthy bit to Reagan-era thrash. It’s grim-sounding but well-executed, and as soon as their songwriting evolves even a tiny bit, they are going to be dangerous.  READ FULL STORY

SXSW: Damon Albarn brings out Snoop and De La Soul, puts on mini Gorillaz reunion

How big is Damon Albarn in America? It’s a question that comes up unusually often at the EW offices, partly because we suspect that the answer will disappoint us.

Obviously people know of the man’s work, but mostly in a backwards sort of way. In terms of Stateside popularity, his multiplatinum animated rap group Gorillaz far eclipses Blur, the legendary Britpop act he fronted for more than a decade — though even they have a mainstream foothold thanks to their alt-radio hit “Girls and Boys” and the woo-hoo anthem “Song 2.”

But Albarn himself never really became a household name in the U.S. It doesn’t help that his strongest work — those early Blur records, considered classics across the pond — was very deeply and decidedly British, literally by design. But now that he’s got his debut solo album (out in April) to promote, it’s natural to wonder whether his name alone can lure a large American audience.

According to his SXSW set at the Fader Fort on Friday, he can — with a little help from his friends. The annual event’s east-of-center venue was packed for Albarn’s performance, but since the bill promised he’d have “special guests” with him, fans were able to deduce that they’d get to see either Blur or Gorillaz play live. They got the latter: Del the Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Dan the Automator, and Snoop Dogg each had a chance to hop on stage and bring the cartoon group’s trippy songs to life.

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SXSW: Seven Things We Learned from Lady GaGa's Keynote Address

After Mother Monster was vomited on at Stubbs BBQ last night — for the show guys, it was all part of the show — she came to the SXSW keynote address wearing a full body tarp and dreadlocks that gave her a distinct Twins from The Matrix vibe.

The address wasn’t actually speech, but a Q&A session hosted by John Norris, the former MTV VJ who is now a producer for Fuse. Norris couldn’t help himself and dove right in with a barf joke: “You could’ve used that outfit last night, huh?” Thank you for saying what we were all thinking. (Although, I have to question his John Galliano armband. Pourquoi?) Lady Gaga seemed subdued, which is probably because she was feeling a little wrung out from all the mechanical bull/pig riding that she did last night. That really takes it out of you.

There were two overarching ideas that she kept circling back to in her answers and they might not be what you expected: 1) The music industry machine is ruining lives, but corporate sponsorships are, surprisingly, not. 2) Twitter is ruining lives. (This from a woman with 41 million followers.) The first point was a reaction to the flack that she’s gotten for showing up to SXSW–once upon a time, a festival for unknown artists–and playing under the massive corporate logo of Doritos, which underwrote her performance. The second point, well, let’s just say Gaga is competing with Anne Hathaway for the most cyber-haters.

So here are seven things we learned from Gaga’s keynote address: READ FULL STORY

SXSW: Future Islands deliver their own brand of art-pop

Thursday night at SXSW, scores of badge-less festivalgoers could be seen lingering on the curb outside of Stubb’s, craning their necks to catch a mere glimpse of Lady Gaga, the ARTPOP diva who was playing the (ahem) Doritos Bold Stage. Which is a shame, because for a just few dollars those fans could’ve walked 20 feet up the street to Cheerup Charlie’s and seen Future Islands, the Baltimore trio that’s been making waves with their own brand of synthy, deliriously fun art-pop.

Without a doubt, Future Islands was the name I heard most often when I asked people what they wanted to see this week. And it’s no wonder: The group’s hypnotic performance on Letterman last week quickly propelled them to famous-on-the-internet status, just in time for their big week in Austin. The level of excitement at their 4AD showcase last night was appropriately high.

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Lady Gaga dedicates encore to SXSW accident victims, gets puked on

Here’s the most important thing you have to know about Lady Gaga’s performance at SXSW on Thursday night: At one point, while performing the ARTPOP track “Swine,” Gaga climbed aboard a mechanical bull that had a pig’s head. A second woman, a performance artists from London who Gaga introduced as Millie, climbed onto the bull with her and proceeded to vomit directly onto the bright white apron that gaga was wearing.

It was certainly a new brand of visual, and one that Gaga designed specifically for this special show that was originally supposed to be staged inside the giant Doritos vending machine but was later moved to the faux-amphitheater at Stubb’s. That smaller stage was converted into “Lady Gaga’s Haus of Swine,” according to a light up sign on stage right. The mechanical pig wasn’t the only attraction; she opened the show by singing “Aura” while rotating on a barbecue spit (this was after six solid minutes of her eating ribs on stage in silence). You can’t accuse her of not knowing how to work a crowd, as she also re-arranged “Bad Romance” into a country-blues hybrid that featured some pretty mean fiddling.

It was hard to imagine what Lady Gaga would do on such a small stage, but she made it work. READ FULL STORY

SXSW: Jack Antonoff, Vic Mensa shine at Woodie Awards

Since its inception, MTV’s Woodies Festival has acted as one of SXSW’s great clearinghouses of acts who are poised to break. Though the 1975, Childish Gambino, and Iggy Azalea held the headlining slots, the afternoon fest seemed built around only the second live performance for Jack Antonoff’s new band Bleachers.

The fun. guitarist’s side group dropped its first single “I Wanna Get Better” about a month ago, and it has been searching for a momentum push. Perhaps Antonoff should have chosen a better single — the borderline strident “I Wanna Get Better” appeared to be the outlier during Bleachers’ brief set, with the rest of the material made up of the sort of dark, slippery guitar pop that could score the best kind of John Hughes movie. As a band leader, Antonoff’s croon and cadence eerily match those of the Killers’ Brandon Flowers’, though considering Flowers is one of the great frontmen of this generation, that should probably be considered a compliment. Of the songs introduced, the ominous “Shadow” and the anthemic “Wild Heart” both sound like potential breakout hits, though if all else fails, they have a perfectly fine future as a Tom Petty cover band, since their run through “Don’t Come Around Here No More” was the highlight of the entire afternoon.

The other big breakout was Vic Mensa, the Chicago-based rapper who is a member of the Save Money crew alongside Chance the Rapper (among others). READ FULL STORY

Drake, The 1975 big winners at MTV's Woodie Awards

Drake won top honors at MTV’s annual South By Southwest-based awards show Thursday night.

The Canadian rapper-singer-actor won Woodie of the Year, given to music’s top emerging artist, during the Woodie Awards in Austin.

Lil Wayne, who founded Drake’s label Young Money, shocked the crowd when he officially kicked off the show and dropped a verse from his own 2008 smash “A Milli.” He later accepted Drake’s award for him.

The 1975 took the breaking Woodie for best new artist. Chance the Rapper got best video Woodie for “Everybody’s Something” and Ed Sheeran earned the performing Woodie.

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Day after tragic accident, SXSW marches on (mostly) as planned

The second night of Austin’s South By Southwest music conference was marred early Thursday morning by a tragic accident that left two dead and 23 more people injured, but for most people, the rest of the festival carried on as business as usual.

The car accident that occurred around 12:30 a.m. early this morning outside of the Mohawk — a venue located on Red River Street, in a part of downtown that’s high on traffic even without a sprawling multi-faceted festival on its hands — cast a gloomy shadow on the city as word of the incident spread on social media.

“I checked into the Mohawk on Facebook last night but left before the accident,” said Leyla Lacheri, a festival attendee who was visiting from New York but originally hails from Austin, where she was a member of the city’s tight-knit music community. “When I woke up, I had like 200 messages from people wondering if I was okay.”

“It’s crazy,” said Elise Lindstrand, another longtime Austinite. “I was there with a bunch of friends right before it happened, and all these people started calling and texting me right after it happened. Everyone I know here was freaking out, making sure everyone they know is okay.” (One of the two fatalities has been identified as an Austin resident; the other was visiting from the Netherlands. Among the injured were people from a variety of cities.)

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