10 Best Shows of SXSW 2013
posted by Alex Vickery
Another South by Southwest has wrapped up and there was no shortage of surprises, epic performances and unforgettable moments. Hopefully you kept up with us on Twitter throughout the festival (although I would like to give a shout out to Sprint for the worst service on the planet). But in case you missed the live action, I’ve rounded up the 10 best shows of SXSW 2013. Check out who made the cut.
One of this year’s highlights was being front row at a small venue for Australian producer Flume – aka Harley Streten – an artist that topped One Direction in Australian charts. The 21-year-old electronic beatmaker perfectly fuses genres like hip-hop, house and techno through varying vocal performances on his tracks. And at a young stage in his career, he remains unassuming and carefree – channeling his inner concertgoer who would be dancing right alongside the crowd.
It’s no secret that I love these guys (I admit, I saw them three times this week), but there’s no denying that everything André Anjos touches turns to gold. Their closing set on Friday was an hour and a half disco dance party of the most popular remixes; but what really did it for me were the older, softer remixes that I’ve never heard live before. The crowd was blissfully swept away by the RAC mixes of “Sweet Disposition” and “Home;” making the show one of RAC’s “favs of all time.”
One of the best things about SXSW is discovering hidden gems in the sea of thousands of performing bands. Lord Huron, a Los Angeles based folk-rock group released their debut album “Lonesome Dreams” last October, but I had only ever heard the name. Listening to their album after seeing them live does not do them justice. All five members – all of which are uncomfortably attractive – passionately pour their heart out to the audience with their use of various instruments to re-create the bellowing layers of each song. A blissful, atmospheric set.
I’ve had my eye on this young British duo for months, and could not have been more thrilled to see them coming to SXSW. Attending their first ever Texas show was an awesome moment, and their set was a breath of fresh air in the electronic music world. The combination of live vocals, drums and bass with their synthesizers made for an authentic show. Not to mention the fact that older brother Guy Lawrence seemed genuinely surprised when much of the audience had heard of their music, despite blowing up in recent months.
British indie-rockers Peace seem to have time-traveled from the 60s, with their hippie attire and laidback sound. The quartet’s set was pure rock and roll angst, with each member truly perfecting his craft, yet still retaining that messy, imperfect sound.
Out of all the big name performers on the last night of South by Southwest – Third Eye Blind, The Smashing Pumpkins, Vampire Weekend, Prince – I spent my night with JT himself. He played for lucky fans at an intimate MySpace (not-so) secret show. Despite the bogus lottery for obtaining a coveted wristband and a large portion of the crowd being opportunists (um, was I the only one crying?), Timberlake put on an amazing performance, toasting to the crowd for St. Paddy’s Day between “Suit & Tie” and “SexyBack.” What can I say – he definitely brought sexy back to Austin.
Ra Ra Riot, whose sound has evolved from earlier albums of pop rock to synthpop on their new record “Beta Love,” never fails to put on a captivating, smile-inducing performance. And despite changes in style over the years, the substance of their live shows has only gotten better.
RL Grime was a pleasant surprise this year. Having only heard a few of his hardcore trap remixes, I didn’t go out of my way to schedule him in. As usual, the South by gods had other plans for me. I attended the Wedidit showcase to see producer Ryan Hemsworth, and ended up at a massive rooftop dance party to artists like XXYYXX, Shlohmo and RL Grime. On a small rooftop surrounded by friends, he wasn’t trying to impress anyone or play what he thought certain fans wanted to hear, but what he wanted to hear. And that was the artist at his best.
Fuse TV named Scottish synthpop outfit CHVRCHES a must-see band at SXSW this year, and I definitely see why. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry was just as fun and bubbly as I anticipated, but the show included more involvement from the male members of the group and a rich, electro pop sound.
The Canadian DJ/producer has a certain air of awkward coolness about him that has a way of inexplicably drawing you in. Once he steps behind the DJ booth, the allure is clear: this guy can get down just as much as any other out there. From his smooth electronic reworks of old school R&B (cue R.Kelly) to dropping unique mixes of Drake and every sample in between, I could have listened for hours.
We’ll post more pics soon, but until then, check out these polaroids of DIIV, Peace, Youth Lagoon, RAC and more by Ashley Stanford for the 405.