The early risers -- and to be clear, this crowd did not appear to have much overlap with the Friday night crowd on Sixth Street -- took in bands all week at the Four Seasons hotel, site of the KUTX live broadcasts beginning each morning at the ungodly hour of 8am. Billy Bragg stepped in Saturday morning on short notice for Lianne La Havas, who was ill.
Speak is a young band from Austin, who played a surprisingly assured set at The Dirty Dog.
I was impressed by Half Moon Run, a quartet from Montreal in which 3 of the members play drums at least some of the time, creating a beat- and keys- heavy sound that had been described to me as the "like Radiohead." That comparison didn't work for me, but I liked their sound a lot.
The scene on Sixth Street -- the heart of the action during SXSW -- resembled Carnival at times, in this case complete with a drum corps and throng of people stretching from sidewalk to sidewalk and several blocks in each direction.
I finished my night -- and my SXSW -- with the same band I saw the first day of the festival: Bajofondo. The group updates the Tango with beats and samples and plays with infectious joy. The crowd sang along to the Spanish lyrics, the band played a frenzied last song, offered to keep playing, but had reached the magical cutoff hour of 2am and had to stop. A great end to the week. -David Christensen
Let us not speak of The Purple One, The Artist Formerly Known As the Artist Formerly Known As. For me, the ideal of SXSW exists in new discoveries and I wasn't necessarily in Austin to witness the fantastically famous. But it was his paisley presence that hung over town Saturday night, and it was killing me to be missing out on the icon after losing in the lottery for one of the 300 coveted spots. The details that have emerged since-- a two and a half hour performance pushing on 3am, chock full of hits and funk covers in the tiny confines of La Zona Rosa-- well, those haven't helped. I mean.
Don't cry for me, though, my consolation prize meant closing SXSW out with the legendary Skatalites-- or the current version of the band that began in Kingston, Jamaica in 1964, anyway. Fifty years on from the original model, the ska pinoeers consist of two original members-- 77-year-old alto-saxophonist Lester Sterling and singer Doreen Shaffer-- buoyed by a mix of young players and veterans they've picked up along the way. In short, it was among the most vibrant things I saw at the festival, the band delivering a series of hot solos and slightly modernized twists on classics, including Shaffer's vocal turn on the bubble-gum ska nugget "My Boy Lollipop."
Just prior to that, Jesse Boykins III introduced himself with an impassioned set that mixed electronic, hip-hop, folk and soul elements; meanwhile Austin's own Grupo Fantasma played a typically dynamic set that included songs from ther upcoming release.
All in all, it was a great, if not necessarily expected, way to close out my SXSW experience. Of course, those weere just the offcial kinds of things that took place on actual stages. There must have been almost as many musicians setting up on street corners-- or alternately, the middle of the street-- playing for anyone who would listen. Black Top Demon, a guitar and drums blues/rockabilly duo from Aberdeen, WA, was particulary impressive near the corner of 6th and Red River, breaking out the kinds of antics that couldn't possibly come across on a recording. -Jeremy Petersen
See more of our photos from Saturday here.
Watch and listen for an audio recap coming soon!
Tagged: SXSW 2013