After a late night the night before, we allowed ourselves the leisure of sleeping in, so that we’d be appropriately rested for a wide open Saturday. Wide open, but packed with tons of options: daytime parties galore (Rachael Ray’s Feedback thang, Rolling Stone’s party, our buddy Perez Hilton’s party, the Fader Fort, Filter’s party, the Vice party….) and more big acts (Zoé, Yelle, PJ Harvey, Echo and the Bunnymen, rumors of Kanye West…) than we could make sense of.
Our first goal, however was GOOD FOOD. We’d had too much mediocre Tex Mex, not to mention overpriced street pizza, so if we wanted to last through the night, we wanted a real meal different….
Angelenos Blue Jungle outside an Ethiopian restaurant.
Showcase: Karibu Ethiopian Restaurant
Band: Blue Jungle (LA)
Reviu: Our quest for food led us to Karibu, an Ethiopian restaurant far off downtown, which, in true Austin SXSW form, happened to have a showcase of its own (and why shouldn’t it?!). And who’s playing when we show up, stomachs growling, but LA rock band Blue Jungle, who we’d been planning on checking out later in the day… They were basically playing for themselves, but they were rocking out. Singer Lately Blu Blu thrashed around on stage and ran out into the street, mic in hand, and the band played a solid set. We were impressed—although the restaurant staff seemed to be ignoring the fact that any of this was going on at all. Quite the bizarre, random scene, but clearly quite awesome.
Brasil representing at N.A.S.A show at Filter.
Band: N.A.S.A. (North America/South America)
Reviu: There was plenty of buzz leading up to DJ duo N.A.S.A.’s numerous appearances at this year’s SXSW. These dudes (Squeak E. Clean—Spike Jonze’s brother–, and Brazilian dude DJ Zegon) played at pretty much every party but we don’t quite get the hype. The music—pretty decent mashups of some of your favorite hipster artists—was fine and plenty danceable, and the stage antics (two “alien” girls covered in green body paint, and two dudes in alien costumes dancing around) entertaining enough, but frankly, it didn’t seem too special or unique. Next.
Band (Non-Latin Fix): Rye Rye (Baltimore)
Reviu: Young Baltimore rapper (and the first artist on M.I.A.’s new label N.E.E.T.) Rye Rye was up next, and she was sporting one of the hottest outfits we’d seen all week, not to mention two amazing backup dancers (chubby dude in skinny blue jeans=awesome!). She put on a great show, but it was right around then that we got the email from the Fader folks confirming that Kanye would be performing at the Fader Fort at 8pm. We flipped a coin to decide whether we’d see Los Super Elegantes (as originally planned) or Kanye, and Kanye won out, so we dished out the cash for a (pimped out) pedi-cab, and headed east.
Los Chikitos getting ready for Kanye West at Fader Fort.
Showcase: Fader Fort
Band (Non-Latin Fix): Kanye West (Chicago)
Reviu: We arrived extremely early for a change, allowing us the time to frolic in the Fort (photobooths galore, silkscreening stations, headphones hanging from trees!) and sample the complimentary Southern Comfort to our hearts’ and livers’ delight. We caught up with los chicos de Chikita Violenta, who took in Kanye’s show with us after a brief interview. After much waiting and a slew of DJ sets and several rappers, Kanye came on around 9, with plenty of special guests in what was essentially a GOOD Music (his label) showcase. He had a full band, clad in futuristic Daft Punk-like helmet/hats, and shared the stage with Kid Cudi, Big Sean, GLC, Consequence, Really Doe, Tony Williams, Mr. Hudson and special guests Common & Erykah Badu. Not too shabby. It was not the major production he is famous for with his tours, etc, but it was very SXSW-appropriate, eso si, introducing his artists to an eager (and extremely intoxicated) crowd.
Showcase: PRSF British Embassy
Band: Bishi (England)
Reviu: We went to meet our friend Issel at the “British Music Embassy” when we see this really bizarre Indian woman onstage, dressed in a black gladiator-like leather outfit (cachas al aire), leather boots up to her knees, ruby red lips, super heavy black eye makeup, hair up in a rooster crest, and rocking out to an oversized sitar. She did some old English songs, then went trance, then hard rock. Yes, Bishi is “Indian skin, English heart” as she says in one of her songs, best (or depending on your opinion, worst) of both worlds and we were just in awe of this chick just doing her thing…her very strange thing.
Sergio and Leon from Zoe.
Showcase: Warp Magazine
Band: Zoé (Mexico)
Reviu: Back at our favorite venue in Austin (insert eye roll and/or sarcastic tone here), Dirty Dog, more Mexicans were being turned away at the door. This time, the bouncers were being a bit more “understanding,” allowing folks with Mexican IDs in, but only if they also showed a credit card or other form of identification. The situation inside wasn’t much better, as sound was a major issue (while they fixed some issues, singer Leon came onstage for a “Poli” acoustic sing along to please the impatient fans). The venue then forgot to turn off the house music at the beginning of the set, and los Zoés played the shortest set ever to roaring, eager, mostly Mexican crowd. Then, the band was KICKED OUT OF THE CLUB by the owners since they were causing such a commotion. Yeah, major W T F. Pretty ridiculous for one of Mexico’s biggest bands. Problems aside, they put on an excellent show given the circumstances, leaving us humming/singing “Recuerdo a Poli….” and “Reptilectric, no me arrepiento de na-daaaa” for the rest of the night.
Maluca at Mad Decent party.
Showcase: Mad Decent Party
Band(s): The Very Best (UK/Malawi), POPO (Philadelphia), Maluca (Brooklyn), +Diplo (Philadelphia), Switch (UK), Toy Selectah (Mexico), among others
Reviu: Post-Zoé, we switched gears and traded the comfort of downtown for an abandoned Salvation Army on South Lamar. We’d been trying to catch The Very Best (featuring Radioclit) all SXSW, and they just so happened to be playing the (Philly label) Mad Decent throwdown, along with other artists we were not opposed to checking out and getting down to. Who really blew us away, however, was Maluca, definitely our SXSW discovery of the day. A dominicana from Brooklyn, she’s the latest edition to the Mad Decent family, and girl is HOT. Clad in a black and silver unitard and a Frida Kahlo-esque hairdo (with flowers and flashing lights), she rapped and sang and held her own with her fierce Virgen de Guadalupe-clad backup dancers to a crazy bass-ed up brand of modern merengue. Remember the name (and check out her track “El Tigeraso” on her MySpace page)… we’re pretty sure there’ll be more of Maluca coming soon.
DJ Toy Selectah and Zuleny after the Mad Decent party…ready for Kerby’s Lane diner!
Backup dancers are always a good thing. N.A.S.A.’s were admittedly a tad too bizarre, but the guys and girls backing up Maluca and Rye Rye made both shows that much more enjoyable. And, well, Maluca is our new favorite. Hemos dicho.
–Chikita Violenta’s playlist during their 18 hour roadtrip from DF to TX prominently featured Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Tom Petty (no joke!)
–Kanye also made a(nother) surprise appearance at the Perez Hilton bash on Saturday.
–Maluca’s male backup dancer, Oscar Wild, was a last minute edition and learned the steps just days before the show. We hearted him almost as much as Maluca, and think she should make him a permanent fixture.
– If you’re in need of a taxi in Austin, you can call Brazilian cabbie Welciton, and he’ll come to pick you up…just say you’re a friend of Liz.