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Thursday, March 13, 2014

CL at SXSW 2014: Part 1

Eagulls are flyin high at the NPR Music SXSW showcase
  • Sonam Vashi
  • Eagulls are flyin' high at the NPR Music SXSW showcase

SXSW is underway! Walking around windy Austin yesterday afternoon, I heard the familiar strains of Blondie's "Dreaming" before realizing it was actually Debbie Harry singing live, making a surprise appearance during Dum Dum Girls' set at Spotify House. Blondie also did an official SXSW interview, and the classic band's showcase is tonight.

I arrived at the French Legation Museum at Pitchfork's day party, just in time to catch Speedy Ortiz's set, and the '90s indie revivalists were impeccable, with singer Sadie Dupuis' voice ringing out over the crowd.

Instead of braving the lines for the Kanye West and Jay-Z joint show on Wednesday night, I stuck with the NPR Music showcase, which featured raucous hardcore punk band Perfect Pussy, English post-punkers Eagulls, and Kelis of "Milkshake" fame (and who hasn't played in the U.S. since 2010) as openers. NPR's headliners were the increasingly theatrical but always excellent St. Vincent, as well as Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz). Kelis was probably the biggest surprise of the night, breaking out classic R&B and soul songs from her upcoming album Food.

A few minutes after I left the NPR showcase, a drunk suspected drunk driver smashed into a crowd near the Mohawk club, just across from where I had been, killing two concertgoers and injuring many more, two of whom are still in critical condition. The drunk driver attempted to escape but is now in custody, according to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. At the Mohawk, where House of Vans is stationed, X had just finished playing and Tyler, the Creator was about to come on stage. This incident has left the festival shaken, and many have spent last night and this morning checking in with loved ones and reflecting on those affected. According to Pitchfork photographer Colin Kerrigan, Kurt Vile was playing outside just down the street during the incident, and "he kind of soundtracked the whole scene without ever knowing what all the flashing lights were about."

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