Tuesday night was the first official night of SXSW music and due to an early morning flight, I was already feeling tired and a touch misanthropic. It’s fitting then, that Pitchfork took it upon themselves to schedule their Show No Mercy showcase at the Mohawk on this evening. After all, metal’s a good outlet to act out all your aggressions, as evidenced by the two guys trying to start a circle pit during Iron Reagan‘s set.
The Richmond, Virginia quintet, featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, got things off to a fun start with their old school thrash-inspired tunes, and the band themselves certainly had reason to celebrate, with vocalist Tony Foresta announcing that the band had recently signed with Relapse Records.
With songs such as “Eat Shit And Live” and “Your Kid’s An Asshole” (introduced by Foresta with the statement, “I don’t hate kids, but I don’t want to look at pictures of your kids”) along with 5 songs off of the recent flexi disc they recorded for Decibel magazine (which took them all of 2 minutes to perform), the band definitely had an ’80s throwback vibe, and they’re a bit derivative, sure, but when everyone’s having a good time, does it really matter that much if a band’s doing something entirely original?
Snoop Dogg and St. Lucia, on one party bill. Who would have thought? This was part of the Paypal party at SXSW because when you think of paypal, you think of worldly 80′s inspired dance rock music and west-coast rap/reggae. Who am I to judge.
St. Lucia is a band that we very much like and this was probably a very interesting crowd for them. Playing in front of hip hop loving techs did not seem to faze the group one bit and they delivered rousing renditions of tracks from their quite good debut album released earlier last year. Jean-Philip Grobler’s zebra patterned shirt added a colorful palette to the already colorful music and the band was right in turning up the bass and driving home the beats for their music. They probably gained a few fans after the show. If the fans remembered who played, I guess.
SNOOOOOOOOOOOOooooop was next. The man knows how to put on a great show. It helps when you have Shaq doing your intro and you have got some sick bass pumping through the system. Snoop’s hour plus set was a celebration of not only his music, but hip hop in general. Given his extensive back catalog, you would expect Snoop to stick to the basics and hit us up with some classic tunes of his as well as some new stuff. Nope. Snoop’s got love for everyone and as a result, we got treated to bits and pieces of songs by his friends such as House of Pain, Biggie and Tupac. Still, it was Snoop’s show and between call’s such as “Who here in this house is smoking weeeeeeed!” and “make some mother fuckin noise” , we got treated to many classics – Gin and Juice, What’s my name, his part from Drop it Like it’s Hot and The Next Episode. It amazes me how fast that man can spit out words and it’s pretty awesome how a hardcore west coast rapper can somehow convert into a universally loved hip hop icon over a few decades.
It’s that time again boys and girls. It’s SxSW 2014. Which means I’m here to sate your hunger for backwoods burial, taboo rendezvous, and all things that are strangely sickening yet cling beautifully on your psyche like a cobweb-ful of morning dew. Not that you actually asked for it. “The Body Electric” from Hurray for the Riff Raff fills me with exactly that sense of tragedy even before I read about the reason for its writing (a dedication to the 2012 rape victim in Delhi). Channeling the southern charms of O Brother Where Art Thou, it cleverly veils an angst that likens to Johnny Cash’s the Man Comes Around. I am reminded of Audra Mae, but Alynda Lee Segarra’s smokier, heavier voice carries her punches well and strikes a resounding cord in a mere 2:50 min. Have a listen to an excerpt from their KEXP performance.
If I were asked to fit “The Curse” by Agnes Obel into a suitable setting like putting libretto to melody, I would probably not have chosen the stark and classical hall of the Heimathafen Neukölln theater, but on the outside atop of the Gherkin or the Shard or the Burj Khalifa in some cubist visual construct. Of course, I’d also use it as the background music to the commercial of some black, sleek, ultra-modern apogee of German engineering. I’m not trying to cheapen the music in any way – that the tempo and structure produced by a violin, cello, and an opened piano can be toned down to match 3 separate voices is quite amazing. Well, pardon my shallow touch with reality, but just seeing someone able to play violin AND sing simultaneously was a rarity to me. The melody is evenhanded and decorated with smooth singing. Lest you think this is some elvish chanting, it is resoundingly modern. I can just imagine them accelerating to Beethoven speed, but that’s for another day.