The Seven Best Moments Of SXSW
So, after nine days of music, conferences, films and very little sleep, SXSW, the world's biggest, brightest and most frenzied new music conference, is done and dusted. This year, the conference's 25th anniversary, around 200,000 people descended on Austin, Texas to see, among innumerable other things, over 2000 bands, playing in all kinds of places: car parks, restaurants, churches, front lawns. Immeasurable quantities of beer and energy drinks were consumed, friendships were forged, hype justified or exploded.
Culling the standout moments from a week of such sustained craziness is never easy, but we're going to do our darndest. Here are our seven SXSW highlights:
1. Odd Future at Thrasher
The hype surrounding LA hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or Odd Future for short) leading up to SXSW was already pretty enormous: whether it was their rampaging Fallon performance, or the Kanye-endorsed video for leader Tyler, The Creator's 'Yonkers', there were a lot of people amped to see them do their thing at SXSW.
More, in fact, than could fit at the all-ages Thrasher party held east of Austin, which led to hundreds of kids tearing down a fence and clambering in to get a peek at Odd Future's increasingly legendary live show.
The collective, most of whom are still in their teens, didn't disappoint, climbing on flimsy tarps and speaker boxes and breaking a fan's nose when he tried to rush the stage, all the while running through a set of sharp, unhinged hip-hop that, more than anything, has helped make their name. Lunacy of the best kind.
2. Givers at Mohawk
Last year, eclectic pop outfit Givers opened for The Dirty Projectors, who had never seen them before. The Projectors were so taken with the young Louisiana quintet that they promptly asked them to open on the rest of the Projectors' tour. Now we know why: at the Laneway party at Mohawk, Givers were so thoroughly tight, ecstatic and mesmerising, that pretty much everyone present became a lifelong convert. Amen.
3. Glasser at Club Deville
By Day 3, even those of the sturdiest constitutions were feeling a little seedy. Which made Glasser -- the one-woman electro-pop moniker of Cameron Mesirow, appearing at Club Deville with her band -- the perfect tonic, Mesirow's remarkable pipes transporting the room out of its collective haze and into a much happier place.
4. DOM at OffLine
'We wanna be the Madonna of garage rock,' Dom, the 22-year old Massachusetts wunderkind behind the band of the same name, says in his SXSW bio. A man of a colourful past -- Dom has said he spent his childhood in and out of foster homes and juvenile detention centres -- Dom and his band make colourful music, albeit of a happier kind: sunny, warped, fuzzed-out low-fi pop that retains a slight caustic edge. At the Pitchfork #Offline showcase, Dom proved that age is no barrier to showmanship, wandering the stage like old hands, throwing beers to the crowd, nailing a sly Prince cover and finishing with a suitably epic rendition of their instantly singable 'Living in America'.
5. Royal Bangs at Mohawk
Tennessee indie-rock trio Royal Bangs had a more frenetic SXSW than most, playing nine shows in six days. Towards the end of the festival, drummer Chris Lusk commented that he'd had about ten hours sleep since festivities began. (He wasn't alone there.) There were no signs of fatigue at the Bangs' set at the Laneway party, however, with the trio proving, with a devastatingly convincing set, why they'll soon be known as one of the best live acts to emerge out of the states in a long time.
6. Twin Shadow at Central Presbyterian Church
Appearing in the hushed confines of Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, Twin Shadow, the solo guise of Brooklyner George Lewis Jnr, immediately transcended the hype preceding him with a spellbinding, sold-out set. Lewis Jnr's crooning baritone was matched only by his skills as a raconteur, and his band -- which for one song included Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear -- effortlessly brought to life the meticulous, new-wave-inspired arrangements of the band's acclaimed debut lp, Forget.
7. Jamie xx at Barcelona
Fresh from his acclaimed remix of the legendary Gil-Scott Heron's I'm New Here, Jamie xx turned his hand to djing at SXSW, his amazing set at Barcelona proving pretty comprehensively that the 22-year-old Londoner can do pretty much as he pleases.
SXSW, we salute you. Now for some sleep.