Monday, March 21, 2011

Kanye, Odd Future, the Strokes and more: the 10 best moments of SXSW

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 12:06 PM

'Ye tops our list of top moments at SXSW.
  • 'Ye tops our list of top moments at SXSW.

Unless you don't have the Internet, you probably already know that the SXSW media festival went down last week in Austin. The Pitch writer Corban Goble was on hand for the music portion (March 15-19), and here are his 10 most notable stories from SXSW 2011, which will go down as the most over-documented event of all time -- at least, until SXSW 2012. (Music nerds, get ready to live vicariously.)

1. Odd Future (OFWGKTA)

The divisive L.A. rap crew (that's Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) actually killed them all at 2011's SXSW, and their performances were so memorable that they made everything else look passé. Thanks to their live-wire, punk as fuck live act -- see video below as Odd Future member Hodgy Beats stage-dives off a roof -- Odd Future shattered their own high expectations with its slew of SXSW shows.

2. Curren$y

I hate to admit this, knowing what I know now, but I honestly wasn't expecting much from the live set of NOLA stoner rap virtuoso Curren$y. But the rapper is a charismatic and exacting stage presence; it's impossible not to be won over watching Curren$y do his thing.

3. Trash Talk

During a shortened set that will surely go down in SXSW/Fader Fort lore -- the show had to be stopped prematurely due to the thrash-driven carnage -- Sacramento hardcore standouts Trash Talk tore apart the place. They were also the weirdest openers ever for the Cool Kids.

4. Toro y Moi

I caught Toro Friday night and was stunned about how impressive a live presence Chaz Bundick's band has become. Chaz & Co. sounded tighter than ever, rolling through Underneath the Pine at the sweltering Klub Krucial.

5. James Blake

James Blake, who has divided the pundits rather quickly for such a young chap, delivered a handful of hype-validating sets, crafting the stage show as a dense, sexy exercise in stretching the limits of pop music.

6. The Strokes

The least secretive drop-in of the festival -- 30,000 people showed up -- the Strokes played a set that's sure to go down in history as one of its best and most charismatic. The stereotypically stoic band played it loose, and show closer "Last Night" was accented with a lakeside fireworks display.

7. Lil B/Diddy

Internet phenomenon Lil B played one of the strangest sets ever. Even though he's a confusing presence to most people who haven't spent a lot of time chasing down all the memes and YouTubes that Lil B is responsible for, the Based God chose to play a number of slower, ambient tracks, as opposed to his more well-known uptempo songs -- "I made the only ambient rap album EVER!," he screamed. He also plugged his book. Things didn't really heat up until ...

8. Diddy

Diddy came to shut down Lil B's set, and Lil B's quick-thinking DJ threw on the instrumental for "O Let's Do It," a song with a recent remix that involves a better-than-average Diddy verse. Then, the DJ kept hitting Diddy, who looked pretty eager to leave but kept obliging. "Victory," "All About the Benjamins" and "Mo Money, Mo Problems" then arrived. One of the best impromptu moments of the festival.

9. Bass Drum of Death

Another victory for Fat Possum. Riffy, irresistible garage pop.

10. Kanye West

Kanye's set at Vevo Powerstation -- basically a venue built to look like an abandoned power plant -- was nothing short of an opus. The show dawdled too long, showcasing other inferior artists on the G.O.O.D. Music label -- Big Sean, CyHi Da Prince -- but when Ye showed up, the exhausted crowd got its second wind. Highlights included a full marching band for "All of the Lights," a stunning "Runaway," and an encore performance by unknown up-and-comer Jay-Z. When you don't like the conversation, change the conversation -- Kanye's 11th-hour performance just might have been SXSW's best and reset the focus squarely on him, just the way he likes it.

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