SXSW Review: Mavis Staples, Jacob Latimore, DRAMA, March 12, Clive Bar

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On the Tuesday night of SXSW, a show was happening that promised to be pretty special and unique – NPR was presenting The Tiny Desk Family Hour, a concert inspired by the broadcaster’s famed Tiny Desk Concert video series and held at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church. Of course once we arrived at the venue, there was a long line that stretched around the corner so it was on to option B – a show by the legendary Mavis Staples at Clive Bar which also promised to be a fairly special show in its own right. Staples was performing as the headliner for the Showtime network’s day of programming to promote the upcoming second season of its (descriptor) drama series The Chi on a bill alongside Chicago-based R&B/dance duo DRAMA and The Chi star Jacob Latimore.

After a fun opening set by DRAMA that got the crowd moving a bit, Latimore took to the stage for a mini-set before Staples’ headlining show. The man’s got a good voice for sure and put his all into his 3 song set, but he was definitely not playing to his crowd – I wonder if he knew going in that the crowd for this would be dominated by a bunch of greyhairs staking out a spot up front for the headliner. He made the most of it regardless. While his music isn’t entirely my cup of tea, I had to admire Latimore’s hustle – over the course of his brief set, he was continuously promoting, reminding the crowd where they can stream his music, where they can find him on social media, and when The Chi would be premiering its second season (that would be April 7 in case you were wondering).

Staples, on the other hand, did not have to do much self promotion on stage – her reputation pretty much speaks for itself. And besides, with a set of roughly just a half hour in length, she didn’t have time for much at all in the way of stage banter, and spent that time instead just running through a powerful set of songs that acted as a reminder of how good of a performer she is after decades in the game.

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Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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