SXSW 2011: Friday


On a day that included a number of standout performances—Erykah Badu's drop-in to Bun B's energetic late-night set, Toro y Moi destroying his performance at the venue.sweat cauldron Klub Krucial—everything just seems boring compared to what Odd Future is doing with its SXSW performances. When I caught them at Santo's awesome Scoot Inn showcase, the following things happened: 1. A stampede that took out a fence, where 50 kids earned their entrance 2. A sixteen-foot roof dive by Hodgy Beats, and 3. A kid breaking his nose and being brought on stage in a rather heartfelt moment. When the grimacing backbeat for "Yonkers" started up, Tyler says, "This is the song that got me 30 million more bitches." He paused, then adding, "And a big ass check!"

I started at Time Out homeboy Andrew W.K.'s Santos/Thrasher Magazine showcase to catch notorious pranksters/pundits Das Racist open for Danny Brown and Odd Future, and again, the Brooklyn-based trio were up to its usual tongue-in-cheekery. "Welcome to the "Never Say Never" tour," Himanshu Suri began before launching into "Who's That? Brooown!" Later, Vasquez said, "We have a scholarship for non-white skateboarders...see us at the back." And, to maintain the signature vibe of a Das Racist gig, everyone was getting pretty faded on stage (I caught them later in the day, incidentally, and it would appear that this was kind of an all-day thing: "I have a headache from drinking all day! Raise your hand if you have a headache from drinking all day!" Vasquez).

Luckily, as I alluded to this desire yesterday, I was pretty curious to see Danny Brown in a setting like this, and his style-sampling flow—he calls himself "the Hybrid," somewhat of an answer to Lil B's "the BasedGod"—played well here. Brown, who's sort of a mixtape champion only at the moment, has a nice combination of rapping ability spliced with weird, interesting flows and ideas. And, in a festival where it sometimes seems impossible to get your ears on something fresh, I enjoyed giving Brown a look without much other intel going in.

A band that I have lots of intel on, and like most people, have become obsessed with, Odd Future played next and put on the best festival set I've ever seen. What's so compelling about the group is, while the music is really, really good in spots, there's just so much more going on and it's hard to get a grip with what Odd Future's deal is. The live shows are orgies of energy, crowdsurfing, fired-up kids (this was an all-ages show, for many reasons) and Odd Future members desperate to out-crazy one another—see Hodgy on the roof. It was hard to force myself not to see them again later in the day, but it would be theoretically impossible to see another band that'd gained and earned that much excitement. A friend in the crowd who had never seen the group was a quick convert: "This is the future. And if you don't know, it's not for you." Those kids have fun, man.

I reconvened downtown to see shoegazey pop group No Joy, a group I had successfully missed about a dozen times at various festivals and opening gigs. Like, actively missed them—made the effort and came up short, so you know I was pretty stoked to see them. I'm a sucker for that thick, shoegaze wall of guitars—shoegaze is kind of like pizza. If you know what makes a good pizza, and know the steps on how to make one, it's pretty hard to fuck up. That's shoegaze. If you know what makes a good shoegaze song, it's pretty hard to fuck that up. And, luckily, the Montreal-via-L.A. outfit knows what makes a good shoegaze song. Next was Puro Instinct, an L.A. dream-pop group that I've had a hard time getting a read on—they opened for Ariel Pink on his last tour—because it's somewhere in between the dreamy thickness of Twin Sister or Wild Nothing with some Beach House-y vocals thrown on top.

When Puro's set ended, I was admittedly unaware of the schedule, but decided to stick around because of how many people had arrived toward the end of its set. Even though I've been rooting for Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick for a while—of last year's now-dead sample pop crazy, Toro y Moi's Causers of This was by far the most thoughtful and musical—I never imagined he'd blossom as a performer like he has. The singing is better and clearer. Instead of hazy samples, there's a lot more evoking of interesting pop textures, indie pop that's almost disco. And, as the live band has played together more, the product is this insanely-tight little pop band that made sweating it out at Krub Krucial a worthwhile errand.

After meeting up with some friends to see a now-sloppy Das Racist, as well as a couple solid jams from Wolf Pack producer Young L and the nightmare that is the Cataracs (the production team that penned "Like a G6." It's like a N.E.R.D. cover band), I dashed accross the street to Kiss and Fly for the nightcap, a late-night, full-band set from Bun B. And, despite the fact that I already knew that Bun was an exacting, lively presence in performance, I geeked out pretty damn hard to "Let Me See It" and as well as the undeniable tandem "International Player's Anthem" and "Big Pimpin'," where he reenacted both his and Pimp C's scene-stealing turns. Oh, and Erykah Badu showed up in sweatpants to sing "Solider." So that was, to borrow from the Odd Future crew, pretty swag.