Cougar Microbes headed to Austin, TX to experience SXSW 2014 in all it’s glory. Over the course of 4 days we witnessed some phenomenal performances in venues all around town covering every genre and sub-genre imaginable. As we had anticipated in our festival preview piece some of the biggest highlights came from those artists we weren’t expecting.
This is how it went…
Misun -B3SCI Presents: SXSW Day Party @ Red Eyed Fly
After unofficially kicking off our festival experience the previous night with a mariachi band playing Beatles covers we were well and truly ready to start SXSW 2014 and what better way to do so than Misun‘s blend of sleepy electronica and chilled R&B. The trio hailing from LA by way of DC definitely got heads nodding and in front woman Misun Wojcik they possess an authentic star in the making.
Tokyo Police Club – B3SCI Presents: SXSW Day Party @ Red Eyed Fly
After an effective hunt for food we returned to the Red Eyed Fly to catch Tokyo Police Club. With the sun shining bright the Canadian outfit’s alternative pop anthems rose above creating a feel good vibe that transferred to a receptive audience who crowded around the stage. Peppering their set with songs from their most recent release ‘Forcefield‘ you would be hard pressed to find a more contagious band to dance along to.
Schoolboy Q – ACL Live at the Moody Theatre
A swift bike ride over to The Moody Theatre meant we arrived just in time to catch two of the acts we were most anticipating back to back. First up was Schoolboy Q who warranted a bizarre guerilla marketing campaign by Top Dawg Entertainment outside the venue involving scantily clad women in balaclavas handing out masks.
Once inside we were a little disappointed to have been assigned tickets in the seated area but this subsided very quickly as the Los Angeles native hit the stage like a man possessed. Almost immediately the venue began smelling like an Amsterdam coffee shop and the audience reacted to every word Q spat from the stage. Largely playing material from his recently released ‘Oxymoron” album the rapper lending authenticity to the rappers prickly persona. A particularly angry rendition of “Gangsta” was stellar all but this didn’t deter him from scolding the audience if he felt they weren’t responding to his liking. While stomping off stage his exclamation that he was off “to see Kanye and Jay-Z perform” could have been interpreted as a slight to label mate Kendrick Lamar but after such a superb set we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Kendrick Lamar – ACL Live at the Moody Theatre
So far the day had been a steady crescendo of one amazing performance after the next, but to catch Kendrick Lamar in the flesh was one of our most anticipated moments. ‘Good Kid, M.a.a.D City‘ is one of those albums that grows better with each listen and deserves a spot in this decades best releases.
The Compton MC hit the stage in fairly unassuming fashion sporting a grey camouflaged jacket and beanie hat but there was no doubting of his superstar status. With the audience in a near frenzy screaming every word back he easily settled into his comfort zone playing each track expertly while leading his fans in a succession of highlights. Tracks like “The Art Of Peer Pressure” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” came through in particular bombastic fashion demonstrating a great dynamic between the rapper and his crowd. Never looking out of place on the huge stage regardless of whether he rapping acapella or leading his fansinto yet another epic singalong. With his music soaked in our collective minds there were gonna be very few acts throughout this week who could reach the level of this amazing performance.
Ryan Hemsworth – Lustre Pearl Presented By Soundcloud
We end a glorious first day of SXSW Music with up and coming Canadian DJ Ryan Hemsworth offering his excellent hybrid hip hop, R&B and dance sound. Mixing familiar hits with little known tracks in seamless fashion allowed him to get the crowd on his side from the get go and he didn’t lose them until the end. Despite his young age Ryan is almost a SXSW veteran by now and it shows with a confident performance soaked with an endless succession of potential earworms.