I haven’t been to SXSW in four years. I can’t say I was too sad about that fact, though. Ever since 2007, the festival has changed dramatically, and not necessarily for the better. To paraphrase, I don’t agree with Lady Gaga’s comment, during her keynote, that corporations are what make this festival remarkable or even possible. SX thrived long before big business descended upon Austin in droves, and will be just fine if some decided to pull out in the future.
That being said, I did enjoy seeing Big Freedia and my new Houston hero, RiFF RaFF, perform in the Doritos-sponsored tent. Yes, it was as crass an atmosphere as you could imagine from a brand targeting youth with their mass-produced, processed food; but the free chips and ample lounge seating were a relief after a long day of walking. Damon Albarn’s set was a bit disappointing at Stubb’s, largely due to the incompetence of the crew setting up between gigs, but he brought the real thunder, in the form of original Gorillaz’ members, Del tha Funky Homosapien, De La Soul, and even Snoop, at the Levi’s-sponsored Fader Fort.
Overall, I had a wonderful time. This is partly due to the fact that I was in good company alongside Michelle Viray and Dakin Hardwick, who wrote quite the remarkable review of all the bands we took in during our four-and-a-half-day sojourn. Though it’s not quite possible to see every act on one’s list, having a wristband does help in certain circumstances (like getting into the Hype Machine’s Hype Hotel for evening shows). I still wish we had discovered this guy, though. Without further ado, here is a collection of some of my favorite photos taken last week.
Warning: the lead singer from the Ferocious Few does not like his picture taken, for some odd reason. This was our first pit stop after collecting our wristbands for Hype Hotel.
The best way to start a new day? With a Sriracha-infused Bloody Mary, courtesy of the Airbnb house on 6th street. They got it right in providing a chill atmosphere to take a break from all the chaos.
Dum Dum Girls perform at the SPIN party which took place at The Mohawk.
Deap Vally’s drummer.
Apparently, I missed Tyler the Creator’s impromptu guest appearance at Pusha T’s performance.
Dakin: “I want a cap that says ‘Perfect Pussy,’ but I’m afraid I’ll get a drink thrown in my face.” Me: “I’ll make you one.”
There is lots of hype surrounding Eagulls lately. They’ve been around for three years and finally released their debut. Their album art, though, is pretty amazing.
The last time I saw Kelis, at Mezzanine in 2010, she was opening for Robyn and has a completely different look and sound. Here, it seems like she’s grown into her own identity.
St. Vincent was so absolutely delightful to photograph, I couldn’t help but dedicate an entire gallery to her. Check it out here.
Damon Albarn’s PR and management team is quite strict, not to mention intimidating. Only a select group of pre-approved photogs were allowed in the pit for his set. I actually got a finger wagged at me when I tried to take a photo from the front row. I managed to capture this.
Gary Numan brought it, especially with his modern rendition of “Cars.” Also, we now know where Trent Reznor gets his inspiration for stage poses.
For some reason, it was incredibly difficult for me to get a decent shot of Chromeo from the pit. So, I whipped out my camera one last time and captured this signature pose of theirs.
Painted Palms are one of my favorite up-and-coming, San Francisco-based bands. We seriously need to give these guys more coverage in the coming months. They are amazing.
Taylor Gang had people going. To be quite honest, and not to used a tired cliche, too many cooks can spoil the broth. I didn’t feel as much excitement as the general audience in the area. But, then again, they were a bit younger. There, I said it. #getoffmylawn
After witnessing Damon Albarn playing a melodica twice, I think I want to learn how to play one too. This is the sound that powers most of his Gorillaz’ work. I’m glad I captured this photo because look at the detail surrounding the keys on that thing. Wowzers.
This photo is horrible, but it’s the best I could do when Del tha Funky Homosapien came out during the end of Albarn’s set. The crowd went nuts, every handheld device was raised high in the air, and it’s all I could do to try to get this shot. Enjoy?
No less cool, but much more omnipresent, is Snoop Dogg, who came out to rap alongside Del La Soul to Gorillaz’ hit “Clint Eastwood.” It was easier getting a few decent shots of this guy.
If you’re extraordinarily sensitive or easy to offend, a Big Freedia show is not for you. There’s booty shaking going on the whole time and while it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that women are being objectified, the fact is, the guys were dancing in the same manner. Yes, maybe with more clothing, but it was all in good fun.
Make no mistake, a RiFF RaFF show will change your life. His latest release, Neon Icon, made our “70+ albums to look forward to in 2014” piece and is set to be released at the end of April.
Both Mobb Deep and Hieroglyphics, who performed before, at Holy Mountain, brought me back to my late Junior High/early High School days. This was the music I grew up to and it was a blast listening to them all these years later.
Suzanne Vega did perform “Tom’s Diner” and it wasn’t stuck in my head for days afterward.
The Cool Kids.
We saw Childish Gambino twice – once by squatting outside MTVu’s Woodie Awards, after dining at Iron Works BBQ, and then the next evening at a free show in Butler Park. The latter was set up nicely for photographers, something I can’t say for every venue at SXSW, and beyond for that matter.
I’m still trying to figure out the appeal of Sophie & A.G. Cook. When I say that, I mean I was entranced too.
Finally, one last photo of Washed Out. They were incredible and worth only getting two hours of sleep before catching a taxi to the airport the next morning. To view full sets of photos from this year’s event, please visit my Flickr.