SXSW 2013 will forever be the year that pierced my heart with memories. There are many that come to mind but I will stick with a couple that left me inspired and hopeful for the future of music.
First lets talk about the amazing performances:
Hiatus Kaiyote finally performed in the states as a full band to a room full of folks who were unfamiliar with the band. Most were awaiting Robert Glasper with special guest Erykah Badu. Hiatus Kaiyote is dear to my heart and lead vocalist Nai Palm has actually slept in my living room, but to see her and the band win over the audience moved me!
I had to hide that tiny tear falling from the top portion of my brow. Maybe it was just sweat, but there is nothing like seeing a band slowly build its base with a new audience. Afterwards Nai came over and told me that Ms. Badu actually sang one of her songs to her. Amazing!
Allen Stone is another performer who just blew me away at SXSW this year. His live rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “Is This Love” took the entire to crowd church! Hands were raised, Amens were said and every one hung on every beat of the song. This was my first time watching him perform and I was moved!
Another artist that I finally got to see live was the amazing Toro Y Moi. Chaz Bundick and crew were on point! There is
nothing better than to watch a band perform an amazing record in real time and still have that studio sound.
But Friday March 15th will go down in the Vala History books as the night of Depeche Mode and Kendrick Lamar
– one night at two separate venue just blocks apart! I stood and watched Depeche Mode perform songs from their
new album Delta Machine and it was amazing! But when the band hit the final song of the night, “Enjoy the Silence”, it was one of those moments where nothing in the universe mattered.
Fears were wiped away, the remaining schedule of the night was far from mind and everything else was out of sight! Dave Gahan strutted across the stage and owned it. I felt like I was 16 again. I heard this song in a way I never heard it before!
Afterwards I was moved working my way over to the Austin Music Hall to catch Kendrick Lamar. He has been the talk of the town and compared to Nas and Jay Z for his lyrics but most importantly his flawless album Good Kid M.A.A.D City, which was my top album of 2012. I had the pleasure of hearing him on a panel discuss his strategy into becoming an artist that is relevant beyond the 5 year life span of most hip hop emcee’s. He also spoke of how traveling has opened him up to new cultures and sounds.
I walked into the Hall and caught Houston rapper Bun B of UGK perform Big Pimpin and I felt Texas! Texas Hip Hop was
coming out of the sub woofers and massive cabinets and it sounded great! Kendrick came out and went through
his catalogue of music from his latest album and I could not think of any better way to end this trip to SXSW 2013.
An hour and a half ago I was surrounded by 40 somethings reliving they’re teen age years to the sounds of “Personal Jesus” then an hour and a half later found myself in the middle of 20 somethings shouting “Compton“.
I encourage you to come to SXSW next year and just get lost! Have fun!