SXSW 2011: Saturday

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  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Diddy

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Justin Vernon of Gayngs

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Curren$y

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Cool Kids

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Machine Gun Kelly

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Curren$y

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Spoek Mathambo

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Lil B "The Based God"

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Gayngs

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Killer Mike

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Lil B "The Based God"

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Gayngs

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Killer Mike

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Trash Talk

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Lil B "The Based God"

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Killer Mike

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    James Blake

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Spoek Mathambo

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    La Sera

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Diddy

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Machine Gun Kelly

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    James Blake

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Justin Vernon of Gayngs

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    James Blake

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Tyler, the Creator

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Trash Talk

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Lil B "The Based God"

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Cool Kids

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Curren$y

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Lil B "The Based God"

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Tyler, the Creator

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Trash Talk melee

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    James Blake

Photograph: Loren Wohl

Diddy


RECOMMENDED: All SXSW coverage

"Both these two acts are the future of the music industry," Diddy said as he closed down Saturday's edition of the Fader Fort. "Make some noise for the music industry!" Diddy, who played a short set himself which featured "Victory" and "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," was referring to Lil B, the Bay Area Internet phenomenon whom also introduced, and to Odd Future, whose presence, physical or otherwise, was unavoidable at this year's SXSW (I was talking to a bellhop about the Lil B/Diddy show we had both witnessed, and a woman in her sixties asked us "Are you guys talking about Odd Future?") How these acts are the future, is, uh, up in the air at best, but there's little question that whatever it is that they're doing is resonating with a LOT of people (particularly teenagers).

After the jump I'll get into a little more on Lil B and the preceding events at the Fader Fort by Fiat and eventually wander into a discussion of Kanye West's Good Music posse show at Vevo Powerstation. Check out Loren Wohl's photos from Austin above.

As you may know, Odd Future's SXSW played out as a series of "Next Big Thing" coronation ceremonies, a status that they'd certainly already achieved but reinforced with their performances in Austin (which included a number of ridiculously dangerous stage dives). But Lil B's set played out in a different fashion—it was a pretty sloppy affair no matter how you look at it. And, since many of the fans at this free show were curious locals as opposed to diehard #SWAG generation enthusiasts, B's signature slapdash style scared a lot of people away early in the set. Lil B, who has been called "the most creative rapper breathing," by rap blog star Noz (Andrew Nosnitsky), he also can't seem to center in on what exactly makes Lil B such a fascinating music/media entity. "For all his eccentricities, B has a strong hitmaking sense," Noz says in this post. "In the right hands he's hugely marketable, but it's hard to tell if those hands exist. So the Diddy co-sign is weird, at best; it has all the signs of bandwagon-hopping instead of an authentic endorsement.

Though OFWGKTA's Fort-closing drop-in might best represent what the talk was about during SXSW 2011, metal outfit Trash Talk has a claim for the most memorable set at SXSW, a set where the somewhat low-key Fader Fort crowd turned into hive of destruction where no trash can was safe. After a while, casual observers simply cleared out, leaving a huge oval of thrash under the Fader Fort's tented enclosure. It was too awesome to last—"I have to stand still because people are getting hurt," lead singer Lee Speilman said as his set ended prematurely, thanking the Fader and its editor, "Schnippers!" (Matthew Schnipper).

Killer Mike held his own—while making sure to voice his many concerns about the government—and Curren$y cemented his status as one of SXSW 2011's stars with another charismatic and colorful set of blown-out, lush stoner rap. But, the talk, as it tends to do, had all redirected to Kanye's late-night set at the Vevo Powerstation werehouse. Cuz you know Kanye. He can never not be the center of attention for too long.

As hypothesized when I received my laminate for the event, the show served as a platform for the G.O.O.D. Music family, although many are considerably less than "good"—my disdain for Kid Cudi's maudlin stoner-rap is well known, but Big Sean and CyHi are perhaps two of the most forgettable rappers spittin' right now. The show started off on a goosebump-inducing high note, as all the G.O.O.D. people marched onto stage in black ski masks—I wonder if they got this idea from another group, anyone have any idea who that might be?—and stood shoulder to shoulder as Mos Def narrated, eventually dismissing the G.O.O.D. army for his own set. And, man, I've got nothing but love for Mos Def, but there probably wasn't a good reason for him to perform his own solo stuff for 45 minutes. Everyone else, luckily, played only a handful each. Perhaps the brightest star of the pre-Kanye cycle was Pusha T, who is an exacting, commanding stage presence but unfortunately does not boast much of a hitmaking sense (whose new single, "My God," is another blistering battle track in the tradition of Clipse, bereft of anything slightly resembling a hook).

When Kanye showed up, the crowd—made up mostly of tequila distributors and model-types who were herded to the front in the initial line outside the show—went batshit, his silhouette draped against the huge G.O.O.D. MUSIC set. While my colleague Sophie goes into a little more depth than I dare to at the moment (the show went from 1 am to 4 am, so exhaustion was, and frankly still is, a factor), Kanye rose to the occassion, rattling through most of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Family before inviting, you know, Jay fucking Z on stage for "H.A.M.," "PSA," and "Big Pimpin'." The highlight, though, was definitely "All of the Lights," which recreated the wonderfully-ridiculous scene from "Runaway" with a full marching band on stage, perhaps the brightest bit of showmanship I've ever seen in a Kanye West concert.

"Epic" gets kicked around a lot, but this is a show whose baseline was "epic." Epic in length (three fucking hours,) epic in scale (all signs pointed to that the Vevo Powerstation was built specifically for this concert), epic in production value (dancers lined the side stairwells and swinging cameras veered everywhere) and epic in ambition (when a drum machine misfired on "Power," Kanye darted off stage, probably to kill somebody before returning moments later). And, from my glimpse of the live HD feed from behind the camera man, that shit is going to look fucking gorgeous when Vevo posts it.

SXSW, out. Thank You, Based God, and Thank You, Kanye West.

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