The sound technicians were a bit off their game, and the crowd at Spill had thinned out by the time Cadence Weapon took the stage at 1AM. In other words, it was a typical end of the night scenario for the first day of SXSW. Of course, Rollie Pemberton wasn’t bothered by any of this. Exhibiting the kind of poise and professionalism that only comes with many years of experience, he ably proved with his set of mostly new songs that it doesn’t matter who is in the room or what the circumstances are, you will have fun at a Cadence Weapon show.
Pemberton absolutely commanded the stage through his creative web of words and sheer presence. New tracks like “Conditioning”, “Jukebox”, and the Grimes-produced “88” were performed with the same tenacity and force that separate him from many of his rap peers, and they each served as independent reasons to get excited about his upcoming album, Hope in Dirt City. And although he was performing to a relatively small group of people, Pemberton treated it as though he was in front of many more, as he encouraged the crowd to bounce along on tracks like “Loft Party” and got almost everyone to put their fists in the air on the classic “Black Hand”.
Throughout the course of his set, Pemberton made it visibly clear that he takes a great pride in performing, as his personality shone through by how he carried himself. The early setbacks could have been enough to drag down the entire performance, but in the capable hands of Cadence Weapon they were just a minor inconvenience that worked to highlight Pemberton’s abilities that don’t involve words or beats (though few can match him in those regards, either).