It’s clear that the West Coast “won” SXSW when it comes to hip-hop. Atlanta and Chicago both made valiant efforts in showcasing lots of new and exciting talent (while New York was pretty much completely underrepresented unless you’re a huge A$AP fan) but Los Angeles, for lack of a better word, had this shit on lock. Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and the rest of the TDE crew headlined one of the biggest nights of the iTunes festival; Acts like 100S took over the Fader Fort and went from almost no-name to “did you see that rapper with the beautiful hair?” in just a few days. However, it was DJ Mustard and his associated acts that really took over SXSW. Seeing just how pervasive these acts were throughout the week might just make someone believe the hype around the rise of “the new West Coast.” Here are my thoughts on some West Coast acts, all from Los Angeles, all brought up by DJ Mustard.
SPIN Day Party
While Future’s disappointing Ray Ban x Boiler Room “set” was a complete bust for any and all in attendance, his set one day earlier at Stubb’s was every super-fan’s dream come true. Every inch of his legendary Atlanta urban radio run during the last four or so years was covered, from his features on songs like “Bugatti” and “Racks” to his own smash hits like “Karate Chop” and “Move That Dope.” In direct opposition to the setlist full of bangers, Future seemed quiet and humble between tracks, taking every possible opportunity to show love to his fans. Towards the end of the set he performed a track entitled “Good Morning” that he had to scrap from his upcoming album Honest. He very awkwardly skirted around the details when explaining the track’s origin to the crowd but from what I can gather it sounds like Future might be owed a writing/co-producer credit on Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love.” This was a revelatory, spaced-out sex jam of the highest order that could have been the biggest hit of Future’s career. “I don’t think I’ll ever perform that song again,” he said, letting out a huge smile, slowly floating back to earth.
Pitchfork Official Showcase
Central Presbyterian Church
A beeping microwave could sound warm and majestic in the Austin Central Presbyterian Church, so imagine how veteran songwriter Mark Kozelek’s mellifluous vocals and intricate finger-picking sounded. He and his drummer harmonized beautifully as they sound-checked an a capella version of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” (a hymn) before moving into “Hey You Bastards I’m Still Here” (a song about Anton Lavey). If this was indeed intentional, it was the most subtle move Kozelek made all night. He expressed himself pretty clearly with a Benji-heavy set and some hilarious onstage banter. At one point he joked openly about Pitchfork at their own showcase, claiming Benji’s high score was “owed to [him] a long time ago.” Oftentimes though, he expressed more somber thoughts. Kozelek followed his Pitchfork jokes with a stirring performance of “Carissa.” His fingers danced deftly across the guitar strings and his voice resonated through the dim sanctuary as he lamented his cousin’s untimely death.
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