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In the conference’s true sprit, the official opening night of South by Southwest’s music portion Wednesday was ruled by new names making strides for mainstream success. Aside from a few shows featuring Fiona Apple, Lionel Richie and Dr. John scattered around town, late night in the buzzing city was run by indie music’s best new bands playing like they have something to prove.
At the Life or Death PR, Mishka & R.A.P Music official showcase, fresh hip-hop acts Action Bronson and Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire made the case for new rap at this year’s SXSW, with high energy sets that proved more fun than most the conference’s standard guitar rock bands could likely conjure. Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire filled the stage with a growing crew, bringing massive energy to the set, before bum-rushing the audience, rapping and dancing amidst the excited crowd like some sort of rap mosh pit. Certainly there was reason to celebrate, today it was announced Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire has signed to Universal Republic.
SXSW 2012: Fiona Apple Performs With More Confidence, Less Angst
At the Innovative Leisure showcase, the young taste-making Los Angeles label put it’s roster on full display with some great swagger. After retro-soul singer Nick Waterhouse‘s moving performance, blues rocker Hanni El Khatib laid into the groove with a set that included his underground hits “Dead Wrong” and “You Rascal You,” as well as a cover of The Cramps’ “Human Fly.” Despite a few technical difficulties the show’s mood was celebratory with other SXSW performers Drop the Lime, American Royalty and Mmoths in attendance, as well as Waterhouse and members of Innovative Leisure’s garage rock band Allah-Las watching on from side-stage.
At the Chevrolet Sound Garage, Purity Ring created a dramatic mood, as the electronic duo manipulated lighting around its setup and a conjured a dynamic performance for an engaged audience surely curious to see why this band has been so hyped recently. The duo played five new songs as well as 2011’s “Ungirthed,” while the audience watched on in awe of the beauty and spectacle of singer Megan James‘ illuminating bass drum and programmer Corin Roddick‘s eight paper lanterns that would like up as they were struck. Rumors have it Purity Ring has signed to 4AD but are waiting until after SXSW to announce it.
Once bars close, the Taco Bell-sponsored Hype Hotel by Hype Machine keeps going late, serving drinks and some of the best late-night acts. The crowd was massive and ready to move for electropop producer Madeon‘s set when he finally went on around 2:30 a.m. For the 17-year-old DJ from France, it felt like a sort of arrival party. Overseas he has already seen great praise and success with his self-released single “Icarus” that charted at 22 in the United Kingdom last month, but so far he is still relatively unknown in America. But after such a night, this may all change soon enough.
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