SXSW 2011: Thursday

0

Comments

Add +
  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Wiz Khalifa

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Janelle Monae

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Wiz Khalifa

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Yelawolf

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Janelle Monae

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Oh Land

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    B.o.B.

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Neon Hitch

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Eliza Doolittle

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Neon Hitch

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    B.o.B.

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Oh Land

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Wiz Khalifa

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

  • Photograph: Loren Wohl

    Janelle Monae

Photograph: Loren Wohl

Wiz Khalifa


RECOMMENDED: All SXSW coverage

For a lot of people in town this week for SXSW, plans gravitated around the 8pm set from the Strokes, a free, no-badges-necessary event hosted at Auditorium Shores. So, when the day's events were scheduled and showcases were circled, it was a matter of what you were going to do before the Strokes, and then what you were going to do after the Strokes. The show, which ended up drawing 30,000+, found the ever-stoic band on a scenic stage with its back toward Lady Bird Lake.

Check out Loren Wohl's SXSW pics above, which include Oh Land, Wiz Khalifa, Janelle Monae and many more.

For me, my pre-Strokes plans were to scope Shabazz Palaces, Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler's Digable Planets spin-off in which the MC explores spacier, headier, glitchier territory. If you're familiar with the triumphs of Digable Planets, you won't be surprised to hear that Butler's work as Shabazz Palaces is dope as fuck (he recently signed a record deal with Matador). Being on the East side of Austin, I then trekked to Fader Fort to watch the set of hipster-posturing Detroit rapper Danny Brown, whose style is some kind of crazy pastiche of crunk music, Slick Rick's unique cadence with a dash of Andre 3000 sprinkled in. A friend recc'd Brown to me, so thank you, Heems. Good call and I'll try to get him in a better venue later this week—Fader Fort's a great setup, but the crowd can be pretty obnoxious. But I suppose they're just there for the free Budweiser. I kind of am there for that too.

So, after a couple hours of coolin' out, I made my way down, amidst the throng of teenagers and general gawking masses to see the Strokes. And once the Strokes hit the stage—which was about 15--20 minutes late, of course—they were in a pleasing mood, leaning heavily on crowd favorites while only paying lip service to a few of the new album's clunkers ("You're So Right"). Lead singer Julian Casablancas was in a particularly playful mood, teasing the on-stage interpreter and interjecting "This is fucking...nice" and "Let's do this shite...new single y'all!" in his best "sounds like he's fucked up, but he's actually been sober for several years" growl. "Take It or Leave It" was a highlight, even if Casablancas completely mangled the lyrics (he started with the second verse, "Fell off the track / I can't go back / I'm not like that" and then repeated it when the time came). "New York City Cops" and a sparer version of ballad "Under Control" sounded beautiful. Even total, abysmal misfires like "Juicebox" were met with positive encouragement from the massive crowd. The regular set ended with "Hard to Explain," just maybe the greatest song ever, and the encore culminated with "Last Night" as a fireworks display caromed into the (now-night) sky. For about three minutes there, I forgot all about how huge of a clusterfuck exiting the show would be.

I made it to Austin Music Haul in the middle of an exceedingly frantic "Pop the Trunk," where Yelawolf was tearing around the stage, his blown-out mohawk matted down and obscuring his eyes. Despite being perhaps the most impressive technical rapper of the newest class of rising hip-hop stars—he's an absolute beast, his stuttering flow is a rhyme tommy gun—he's also one of its most exciting performers, as he's basically out there breaking his neck to stoke the energy of the crowd. And it works.

Childish Gambino—comedian Donald Glover and star of NBC's Community—came next, and, I'm not tryin' to hate on dude, but I'm not sure why everyone is losing their mind over his music. I mean, sure, "Freaks and Geeks" works as a send-up of the hashtag rap styles perpetuated by Drake and Wayne, but is it really more than that? If James Franco wasn't so good at acting, would anyone read his short-story collection? This is the same thing. Glover is a great rapper for a comedian. No disrespect.

Though I was promised Wu—all Wu-Tang members were there, Glover insisted, despite the fact that Raekwon's tweets certainly implied that Rae was in London—I got Fishbone, which I don't know much about, but it's sort of a postreggae, pre-ska band that used to have credibility but now has descended into a caricature of itself (for instance, they covered Sublime's "Date Rape"). I didn't really get into it, because I was promised Wu and was getting something else entirely. So, I think that's only going to darken my assessment of Fishbone. But I did learn that Cusack was actually playing a Fishbone song in the famous "Say Anything" scene and "In Your Eyes" was added later. So, props on that, I guess. (Side note: Wikipedia has a very clean mobile site).

Wu-Tang finally came on—minus Raekwon, Method Man and RZA—and rattled out the old hits "Clan in Da Front," "Bring Da Ruckus," and "Protect Your Neck" with respectable enthusiasm, also veering into one another's bigger solo songs like GZA's "Liquid Swords" which I shot him lazily performing at CMJ. For a group that has to be a total beast to assemble for a show like this, they met the crowd's energy and gave them what they wanted, pleasing the fans from here to Shaolin before we all trudged home when the bar closed.

Users say