SXSW Review: Spoek Mathambo, Dionvox, Escort, Chairlift, Spin Party

Spin always seems to throw one of the better parties at SXSW so it should be no surprise that I parked myself in the Stubb back lot for the entire Friday afternoon. With an eclectic lineup, free alcohol and free bbq, you can say that I was sufficiently sophonsified that afternoon. Let’s take a look at the acts on the bill.

The opening slot of any afternoon party is always the toughest – half the people are still sleeping, the other are hungover and mostly lack the energy to do anything more than stand around. These factors were of no deterrent to Spoek Mathambo, a South African hip hop artist that seems to incorporate many elements from other music genres into his upbeat tracks. Some parts of his set involved him rapping over heavy guitars and sounded straight out of the late 90s while others involved the heavy use of horns and percussion and was reminiscent of what I think Carribean dance halls sound like. Throughout it all, the man was dancing and trying to get the crowd going. A pretty good start to the day, Father Creeper, the new album from Spoek Mathambo, is out this month.

Up next was Dion*Vox. Formerly known as Ramona the Band, Dionvox certainly captured the eye of all the male music photographers at their indoor stage with set, which involved both the lead singer and a go-go dancer progressively stripping throughout the set. Their outfits indicated to me that they were some sort of post-industrial, gothic electro s&m band. Their music consisted of the lead singer sultrily singing over industrial-type electronic music. There was also a guy who was with the dj, who just stood there the whole time for no real reason. I can’t quite place what they sound like because I was wondering if the go go dancer was going to take off all her clothes.

Up next was Escort, a Brooklyn collective that absolutely brought their A game to the outside stage. I counted seventeen members on stage including an all out horns and string section, backup singers, multiple drummers and guitarist. I wonder what their rider looks like. I also found it funny that the two Asians in the band were on keyboard and violin…surprise surprise. Escort’s set was awesome. They brought the funk, the beat and the whole kitchen sink and got the crowd moving. Lead singer Adeline Michèle has the makings of a star – her charisma is off the charts as she danced, engaged the crowd and sang throughout the set. I predict big things for her and the band, now that their debut album is finally out.

Immediately following the funkapalooza known as the Escort show was Chairlift, a Brooklyn synthpop duo that seemed to have expanded to a four piece for the Spin party. The band played a set full of tracks from their new album Something. Lead singer Caroline Polachek has some interesting dance moves, which I think was directly inspired by Natalie Portman’s character in the movie Garden State. I struggled to find catchy hooks or melody with their new material but the crowd seemed to eat it up, as did Paul. Maybe their synth driven tracks require a more careful listen, I’m not sure but nothing they did really caught my ear.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this review!

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.