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Sunday, March 22, 2015

SXSW: Friday Brings the Zombies, E-40, and Bushwick Bill With Thee Oh Sees

Posted By on Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 10:02 AM

click to enlarge E-40 - TONY ALBERT
  • Tony Albert
  • E-40
Friday rolled in with cloudy skies, and I was losing steam. Luckily enough a musical moment of inspiration enlivened my tired form, as The Zombies took the stage at the Jackalope for the Deli Radio day party. As eager fans crowded the corner stage at the unassuming bar on Sixth street, keyboardist Rod Argent joked: “Wait I thought this was an area gig?” No Rod, it was a dive bar, and perhaps the most intimate setting the band has ever performed in since forming in 1961. They played all the hits and even a couple new songs, accompanied by the news that the band was recording a new album. This will be your year, fellas.

click to enlarge Big Sean - TONY ALBERT
  • Tony Albert
  • Big Sean
After some afternoon relaxation I was back at Fader Fort where Big Sean made an appearance as the first special guest of the evening. The Detroit rapper ripped through his verses on tracks such as "Mercy," "Blessings," and "Clique," mixed in with his own rags to riches brand of hip-hop. Between songs he gave motivational anecdotes to audience, and spit some impressive acapella. He closed with the ever-present "I Don’t Fuck With You," and was joined on stage by none other than the Bay Area’s own E-40
click to enlarge Migos - TONY ALBERT
  • Tony Albert
  • Migos
Migos was on next, accompanied on stage by half of Atlanta. Trap-heavy beats and lots of swerving filled the tent, as the notable refrains of "Handsome and Wealthy," "Fight Night," and "Hannah Montana" echoed through the clouds of blunt smoke that began to accumulate. With their YRN crew bringing the hype man to performer ratio up to around 5:1, the stage became a party, making this writer wish the performance was taking place in a small club where it could be fully enjoyed. 

The last special guest of the night, closing out the Fort in style, was none other than club anthem generator T Pain. After he proved to the world on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series that he didn't need Auto-Tune to sing well, he took the stage on Friday to “remind all you motherfuckers who I am.” Backed by a live band, he moved through a high energy set like a cyclone, jumping around stage and thrashing his limbs while hitting every note. "Buy You A Drank," "Up Down," and "I’m Sprung" lit the rain-weary crowd like a floodlight. 
click to enlarge T-Pain - TONY ALBERT
  • Tony Albert
  • T-Pain

The next performance of the night for me was Oakland’s Meat Market, back downtown in a small room on Red River. Surrounded by friends from back home, the show’s familiarity was welcome. Ripping through new songs like Hole and Line, while mixing in old cuts like TNT, the band impressed some badgeholders who shuffled in off the street.

I was ready to call it a night, but instead headed to Hotel Vegas to catch the end of Thee Oh Sees’ set. John Dwyer’s got a new band, this time with two drummers. Bushwick Bill joined them on stage, rapping through his verses on classic Geto Boys’ songs like "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta: and "My Mind Is Playing Tricks On Me" while Dwyer and co. riffed through, well, Oh Sees-esque background music. It felt like nothing less than a watershed moment for humanity; that’s what happens at South By. 

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Martin Hirshland

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