So I scrambled for a replacement. My friends were set on checking out Fader Fort, a popular four-day showcase curated by The Fader magazine — apparently, so was everybody else in Austin. The line to get in was a quarter mile long, and I lasted about three minutes before ditching out of there in search for a shorter, more mobile line.
Pitchfork’s day party was just a few minutes up the road at the French Legation Museum (802 San Marcos St.), so I jaywalked my way northward, hoping to finally see some music. The line was manageable, and you could kind of see over the wall on your tiptoes.
Rising songstress Kelela was playing when I arrived. Her sparse, forward-thinking blend of R&B played well with both those in attendance and the people standing in the bed of their truck on San Marcos Street. who were dancing, cheering and yelling at Kelela between songs. It was one of the day’s more entertaining performances. Kelela sounded nice too.
Tennessee rap artist Isaiah Rashad was up next on the other stage, which was farther off in the distance, so I wasn’t able to hear as well. After a good 45 minutes in line, I made it inside as Rashad was wrapping up his set. I went straight for the concessions, bought a Red Bull and a water in a box (you know, like a milk carton) and planted my rear firmly on the grass as Mutual Benefit set up.
I had been looking forward to seeing Mutual Benefit as much as almost any other band at SXSW. Their most recent album, Love’s Crushing Diamond, was one of my favorites from last year, and the breezy outdoor setting seemed ideal for their melodic, baroque brand of folk.
Unfortunately, Jordan Lee’s band was forced to battle through sound issues through most of the set. For such a hushed performance, the clipping during the louder moments was grating on the ears. The band knew it, too, but they almost seemed too nice to really get angry about it — or anything, really. Aside from that, they sounded pretty good, really hitting their stride during “Strong Swimmer,” the last song of their set. However, they’re still a very new band with a lot of room for growth in the live-performance department.
Canadian producer Lunice — better-known as one-half of the dynamic production duo TNGHT — was up next on the South stage, and boy, did this dude have charisma. His was basically a DJ set with nothing but a laptop and a mixer, but he was as animated as any DJ I’ve ever seen, dancing around the stage like the world’s most enthusiastic hype man. His set weaved between hip-hop and electronica, even dropping a few Drake and Kanye joints (and, of course, some TNGHT). It was one of the more entertaining performances I’ll see all weekend, for sure.
Last but certainly not least was cathartic hardcore band Fucked Up. The Canadian imports powered through a divisively energetic performance, with shirtless frontman Damian Abraham venturing into (and offering hugs to) the crowd on numerous occasions. There was stage banter, mosh pits (obviously) and a heavy dose of guitar. While the style of music might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, Fucked Up put on a hell of a show, and it was an uproariously compelling way to wrap up the day’s events.