Catching movies during day, our first show on day 3 was out east when the official evening showcases started.
Heading to Vegas Hotel to check out Fat Tony, the up-tempo rapper was a real surprise, commanding the audience with his fun and energetic beats.
Next we raced over to Hype Hotel for two of the hottest bands coming into SXSW. With a style moving between electro, house and pop, SZA boasted some tracks that were downbeat and moody, some that were pumping. The faster tracks really got the crowd moving but some of the slower tracks were moany and laborious. Vocalist Solana Rowe tries to sounds “big” but it’s often quite hollow and one dimensional.
UK duo Jungle (above) were up next and another real highlight of the festival. Packing out the stage with a full backing band, for British shows they’ve always played in darkness, with lights out on the crowd instead, but it was a normal set up here and they benefitted from dropping the gimmick. Playing groovy, sultry RnB/electro fusion, Jungle were really captivating live although a few standout tracks were much better than the rest.
Catching a few tracks before we had to run across town for the next band, Tensnake (top) put on an impressive, if not amazing, DJ set. While the music carried a thirsty beat, the DJ/producer should have played a few more of his own remixes, but at least Coma Cat was one track the crowd knew beat by beat.
After their underwhelming set at the Spotify Lounge, we thought Dum Dum Girls were worth another shot so headed to Cedar Street Courtyard for their next performance. While the music is there, again Dee Dee Penny’s four-piece didn’t have enough energy live and their fuzzy lo-fi rock all felt a little fourth gear. But Dum Dum Girls had nothing on the disappointment of the night’s last act.
Filled with die-hard Strokes fans, Julian Casablancas took to the Cedar Street stage with latest side project, The Voidz. Going on 30 minutes late without an apology for their delay, they’re much heavier than The Strokes though the lack of definition couldn’t be blamed on poor sound. Most of The Voidz tracks were just noise and the band members struggled to create any sort of unity in their music. Maybe they’ll be a different story recorded but live it doesn’t work, and Julian Casablancas + The Voidz sounded like a bad high school band not a bunch of seasoned professionals. How the mighty have fallen.