Lizzo (photo: Ian Young)
Photos and additional reporting by Ian Young and Norm deVeyra
At this point, I’m not really sure what day or time or year or planet it is. It feels as if I’ve been abducted by aliens and this is all a simulation where everything kind of feels real but also kind of feels off. SX is kind of a music festival… but it’s also kind of just a huge marketing ploy where music is the free koozie that we join some mailing list for.
The most convincing case this is all a fantasyland? I saw some performances last night that were too good to be real.
Lizzo: The full TBB squad came out for Lizzo‘s spectacular spectacular at Stubb’s, and we were all treated to a Texas-sized serving of her out-of-this-world performance. And yes, I’m going to keep sticking to space puns since I haven’t had coffee yet.
Rose Droll and Boy Scouts: Two of our hometown heroes played back-to-back (and in each other’s bands) at the Phluff showcase located in the living room of a hostel/apartment/arts complex/something.
Robinson: A pop tour-de-force with aspirations, and the stage presence to back it up, that were much larger than the backyard stage she was on. She’ll be one to watch.
Japanese Breakfast, part deux: Ran over to Mohawk to catch Jbrekkie’s second show of the day and arrived in time to hear another round of…wait for it…soft sounds from another planet.
Performances from three women stood out most in my mind as we crossed the midway point on Day Four, and one performance in particular may contend for my favorite set of the fest.
Posts and videos of New Zealand singer, Robinson, had been my populating my feed all week and I finally had a chance to catch her set last night at the We Found New Music + We The Beat Showcase. Her energetic set certainly got the crowd jumping but it was her ability to connect with the crowd during each song that I found most refreshing.
Donna Missal, a Los Angeles-based vocalist, has been on my radar for quite some time, and despite her numerous recent supporting gigs around the Bay Area, yesterday was my first time seeing her perform. I can say the hype is legit for Ms. Missal. Her songs and performance displayed both great power and confidence. Fans of a great slow-burn torch song need to listen to her single, “Girl” ASAP. Also, heads up Bay Area, she’s coming to the Independent at the end of the month.
LIZZO 2020!!! I’m fairly certain Lizzo announced her candidacy for President last night, and I’ve already quit my job and have committed to her election campaign. Hands-down fave set of the fest thus far. Accompanied by a couple of dancers, Lizzo lit up the the Stubb’s outdoor stage. From what I heard last night, her upcoming album will be nothing but certified jams. Her single, “Juice,” is already one my fave songs of 2019.
Also have to give some love to a few Bay Area locals here in Austin as well:
San Francisco’s Boy Scouts and Rose Droll delivered solid shows in what was most likely a UT Austin sophomore’s bedroom at the Eden Co-op; probably the the most intimate of locations we’ll encounter this festival. Despite the close quarters, the space offered a lovely setting for the two artists’ low key and chill grooves. Boy Scouts’ set, in particular, was a highlight.
I can’t believe I have two more days of this, cause I’m having a hard time seeing how anything is going to top Thursday.
My first bit of SXSW magic came right at the start. After giving up on a very long line for the Beths at the Doc Martens stage (I didn’t consider that people would already have started queueing for the Joy Formidable and Broken Social Scene later), I was walking past a small opening in the fence when I happened to make eye contact with the security guard posted there. “You want to come in?” he said.
I didn’t ask twice (OK, maybe I gave a polite “You sure?” as I was already shimmying through the fence). I got to watch from the side stage. Just myself and one other person he made that same offer to. Shout out to Thomas the security guard. Give that man a raise.
I was sad to see that, for all the critical adoration, not a whole lot of people turned out for Madeline Kenney‘s Austin City Limits showcase set. I certainly didn’t help the situation — I stayed for about 15 minutes before I had to make it across town to Laura Jane Grace. But in the 15 minutes I was there, Kenney was her usual, charmingly-goofy self, making semi-silly small talk and asides in between songs. She even, perhaps subconsciously, incorporated a bit of fancy footwork into her set — remember, she used to be a dancer, among other things.
I dropped in on a different set from Boy Scouts than my photographer colleagues. At a quiet, tony cocktail bar, this set afforded her a backing band, made up of some Bay Area companions — Rose Droll on keys and former Never Young guitarist (and former TBB contributor) Nik Soelter on drums. Having a band behind her gave her homespun tunes more dimension and dazzle.
And then there was Lizzo. I don’t think I need to say anything else.