The Best Things We Saw, Heard And Ate At SXSW On Thursday
St. Patrick's Day. South By Southwest.
Alone, each of these annual events are debaucherous enough. But when combined together, they become...
The Perfect Storm.
"Dirty 6th" was true to its name, and as a slightly seasoned SXSW veteran of five days, I did my best to steer clear of the chaos.
Luckily, I spent the majority of the daytime walking venue to venue and hotel to hotel talking to musicians.
The day started outside Mohawk with Sarah and Daniel from Pure Bathing Culture.
Down to earth and grateful to be a part of SXSW, I talked about their SXSW pros (energy, kinship with other musicians) and the major con (lugging all your own equipment around and never finding parking). Pure Bathing Culture is going on tour with Lucius; expect them to blow up ASAP.
I was able to catch their set at Sidewinder, and proudly sang along to their song "Pray For Rain" (which has been stuck in personal perpetual rotation).
Somewhere between Beach House and St. Vincent, their dreamy pop kicked off my day on a blissful note.
I booked it across town to the Four Seasons to meet up one of the most talented singers I've ever heard, the wonderful Judith Hill. You might know Hill from a number of places: as a backing vocalist, she's toured and recorded with legends like Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Josh Groban; she was duet partners with Michael Jackson for the This Is It tour before the King of Pop passed away (and she sang at Jackson's funeral); she was a successful contestant on The Voice; and she was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom.
But if you don't know Judith Hill yet, you should get familiar. We talked about Hill's solo LP, Back in Time, which was produced by Prince at his famous Paisley Park studio, as well as striking out her own, chasing down inspirations, and the thrill of getting to play at SXSW with her mother and father, who jammed as her band at her Thursday night showcase performance.
Walking with Judith and her manager back downtown (they were searching for tacos, and this being Austin, didn't need to look far), I broke off to write a little bit back at the Slake Cafe. I've said it before, but this place is the bomb.
I caught up with a dear friend in town for the festival (shout-out to Chris Palmer), and set off for Rainey for the ATO/Harvest Showcase.
The first act I caught was a punchy, youthful 4-piece by the name of The Greeting Committee. I embedded their website simply because it's stinkin' adorable. The Greeting Committee surely is young (high school kids), but super talented and gave it their all for the Blackheart crowd.
Next up was one of my new favorite artists, Margaret Glaspy. To be honest, Glaspy was the main draw for me, thanks in part to her raw power singing voice, delicately crafted compositions that run the gamut from blues to folk to pop, and magnetic stage presence. She played a number of cuts off her upcoming album, and flashed a huge grin several times, stoked to be playing for a crowd of label-mates and friends. I was glued to the stage the whole set, and I can't wait for the record to drop.
After Margaret Glaspy, I was treated to my third Rayland Baxter performance of the week. After getting to see them in the packed club environment of Antone's and the large outdoor stage of Spotify House, it was great getting to see a set with a casual backyard vibe.
Rayland brought out ATO cohorts Margaret Glaspy and the Closner sisters of Joseph to sing with him.
Joseph followed Rayland, and getting to see them a second time was a treat. Out of all the acts I've seen so far at SXSW, Joseph is the one I expect to see the biggest explosion of success in 2016. The earthly songwriting coupled with the heavenly harmonies is just too good to stay under the radar for long.
Wait, but didn't you eat any food, Spencer?
Well, yes I did, random internet person/Mom.
It's just that I kind of forgot to eat almost all day, getting by on contraband Belvita breakfast bars smuggled from the Spotify House and glasses of water. I did manage to grab a lobster grilled cheese en route to Rainey from a food truck at South Bites, but the pictures I took were too crappy to post (maybe it was because my hands were shaking from lack of nourishment? Kidding. Am I?).
So here's kind of what that sandwich looked like, if you need visual proof...
And if you're really a hardass, this is what I looked like eating Belvita breakfast bars:
Cover photo: Spencer Dukoff