Photos: Daniel Boczarski and Words: Josh Antonuccio
Things got started off on a sad note here, with news that Cee-Lo Green would need to cancel his performance for the Atlantic/Elktra Showcase. However, later in the day the exciting news broke that the one and only Janelle Monáe would be replacing him.
Her 2010 The Archandroid, was considered by many (including myself) to be one of the best albums of last year and her live performances have already started becoming the stuff of legend. Just watch her performance of “Tightrope” on Letterman from last year, and you’ll see what I mean. Channeling the likes of James Brown, Prince, Broadway, George Clinton, and vaudeville, she and her band brought down the house and completely floored the crowd with a show that was staggering in it’s showmanship, energy, and raw power. Easily one of the best performances of the festival so far and it ranks in one of the top shows I’ve ever seen. Truly extraordinary.
Elsewhere, big shows took place concurrently across town, with WuTang Clan and Fishbone at Austin Music Hall, TV on the Radio headlining the AOL Stage at Stubb’s, and Emmylou Harris headlining at Antone’s.
Earlier in the evening, the Strokes played a fantastic show at AudShores Stage to an over-capactiy crowd. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since their debut Is This It, yet they played like seasoned rock veterans, littering their set with standards and songs from their newest album Angles. As fireworks erupted overhead, they closed with the crowd-pleasing “Last Night”.
Throughout the afternoon, sponsored showcases ran in full force with really great lineups at Brooklyn Vegan and Paste, where the Submarines, J Mascis, and John Vanderslice all performed. Earlier in the day, Seryn wowed the crowd with an exuberant set. Matt and Kim closed out the MTV Garage showcase later in the day to a huge and adoring crowd.
Bob Geldof keynoted the conference in the morning with a combative and passionate talk about the decline of rock and roll, declaring that “it might have just been a 50-year bubble”. He pleaded for American musicians to “wake up and start a revolution again”, laying out a poetic and professorial argument for the place and power of rock and roll to change the world. It resonated with many in the crowd, although his revisionist history left the end of “authentic rock” and “good music” in the early ‘80s completely ignoring the rise of hip-hop, grunge, and American indie and their role in speaking to and inspiring a new generation. Definitely a thought-provoking address, yet I hope he went out last night to see some of these shows, because afterwards I think he would agree that good music is far from dead.
White White Sisters perform during the Japan Preview Day Show at the Grackle during SXSW 2011.
Kerli performs at the Express Rocks! Music Lounge during SXSW 2011.
Tinie Tempah performs at the FADER FORT by FIAT during SXSW 2011.
The Sounds perform during Baeblemusic Takes on Texas at Phoenix during SXSW 2011.
Crystal Bowersox performs at the PureVolume House during SXSW 2011.
The Strokes perform at Auditorium Shores Stage during SXSW 2011.
Noah and the Whale perform during the AOL Music Showcase at Stubb’s during SXSW 2011.
Portugal. The Man perform during the AOL Music Showcase at Stubb’s during SXSW 2011.
Charles Bradley and Manahan Street Band perform during the AOL Music Showcase at Stubb’s during SXSW 2011.
TV on the Radio perform during the AOL Music Showcase at Stubb’s during SXSW 2011.
Boys Noize performs at Elysium during SXSW 2011.