I woke up to 143 text messages from family and friends asking me if I was alive after what happened on Day 2, which was all over the news. I thought I’d seen it all @ SXSW. Like those times Texas cops felt up my crotch. Or the insane riot I witnessed a couple years back when Death From Above 1979’s secret reunion show went down at the Beauty Bar.
I tried my best to pull myself together and put all that jazz behind me. Day 3 was all about hosting the M for Montreal buffet that I carefully curated for an Austin appetite. We kicked things off at Maggie Mae’s with our annual poutine party, with a special appearance by MTL’s hot shit, Kaytranada. We received well over 8,000 RSVPs for this event, which has become a popular tradition @ SXSW. People go crazy for it. The line-up for poutine was a little overwhelming but the look on people’s faces was gratifying. YES, this was real poutine with the right cheese. Kaytranada was chowing down while mixing and kept the dancefloor busy to burn off some gravy calories. Kay’s been hitting the Soundcloud-waves with a bang, plus he’s releasing beats on Brodinski’s label. Kay’s set to rule the world.
Black Atlass had to cancel his set due to a delayed flight. This kid (aka Alex Fleming) just hit NPR’s top 100 artists to watch for @ SXSW. His lips are just as luscious as his music. The perfect tunes to get down ‘n’ dirty to with your little friends.
The showcase, which took place on both floors of Maggie Mae’s, also featured A K U A, who’s been busy touring the world with Solange Knowles and working with Twin Shadow.
Marie Davidson (ex-les Momies de Palerme) also graced us with her presence. This beauty just put out a French record on an Austin label. She sat behind me on the airplane and made me sweat profusely.
Foxtrott also delivered a powerful set that wins over any crowd with good hearing and good taste.
Alaclair Ensemble was no doubt the best act I saw at SXSW this year. Franco hip hop has a way with American audiences. The crowd was hypnotized and got loose for this group of guys that made no sense to them.
There was also mind-blowing sets by Sean Nicolas Savage, No Joy, Solids and Random Recipe but I definitely blacked out during Tommy Kruise‘s set. I just lost it. I got on stage and danced like a monkey. That’s when I went bananas for Lunice and lost my beloved iPhone. RIP lil guy. We had good times in bed.
Waking up on Day 4 with a hangover and no iPhone was hella depressing. Kind of like riding through the desert on a horse with no name, but way less poetic.
I spent the day at the Gibson lounge for Planète Quebec. Alden Penner, Maica Mia, Fire/Works and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan woke us all up. I’ve seen these acts before but I felt like supporting my ghetto.
I remained a hood-rat later that night for the Pop Montreal showcase where I was greeted with drink tickets and warm hugs. I missed Each Other and Seoul but thank God I caught hotties Jef Barbara & Jessy Lanza. These two delivered some serious blows to my head. Jessy does everything on her own. Think Grimes but more soulful and less flashy. I haven’t felt this way for a female performer since Sade. Jef Barbara was crazy, sexy and cool. He makes Dionne Warwick look like a wannabe. No but seriously, JB’s one of a kind and reminiscent of Prince and David Bowie. That doesn’t happen many times in a lifetime. Both Jessy & Jef were truly the fireworks of the night.
I headed to the Mexican Summer showcase at Swan Dive to catch my new boy toy, Connan Mockison. I gotta say, he was the artist I looked forward to seeing most @ SXSW. This New Zealand slacker does it all for me. Just listen to this song and let his eerie voice and music shatter your dreams and make you believe in unicorns again. I then stepped out into the back patio to catch Har Mar Superstar. I’ve met Har Mar a dozen times in L.A & he never recognizes me. This time I name-dropped mutual friends of ours that he’s banged over the years, and that sparked his memory. I never particularly liked the guy but his new songs and live performance really touched me. His ’70s cocaine-inspired thing won me over. High energy and hooks all over the place. Think Ron Jeremy meets Tom Jones. Winner.
I ended the night by hitting the Grub House for Texas’s version of poutine: Dirty Duck Fries. On my way back to my hotel, I realized that most of 6th Street was overcrowded with cops, gangsters, blunts and gold teeth. I’m not sure where SXSW is headed but all I gotta say is 6th Street has lost its charm and is now officially overrated. There are other developing areas around downtown Austin with chill local vibes like the Rainy District, South Congress and East 6th Street. That’s where it’s at.
After eight consecutive years of attending SXSW, I’m kinda ready to throw in the towel, but who knows? I might end up right back there next year. For the uninitiated, it’s a massive party, and it remains the place to be. The food alone almost makes the trip worth it. Just carry a bottle of Pepto Bismol and and drink lots of Lone Star beer to keep yourself hydrated. Works for me. ■
See all of Mikey’s festival reports (including Days 1 & 2 of SXSW 2014) here.