3.16.2008

SXSW Day Four: Bring Fruit...


...or He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper. If Friday was transcendental then Saturday was magic, first by accident, then by divine intervention. I had yet to indulge in some hip-hop, so the Fader Fort was a given (that giant print of Ad Rock jacking a beer is embedded in my mind forever), every inch of that place oozed with newage/oldskool love -- constantly brilliant bumpers courtesy of Fool's Gold, spray painted boomboxes stacked high, images of my adolescent heroes plastered everywhere. Let's be honest, anything Diplo touches turns to platinum, he turns water into cachaŠłČa, he's the one pulling the strings behind curtain of this revolution. It's a place where nothing's actually hip-hop per se, but simultaneously encompasses all of hip-hop in style and function. To make one dance, to make one always feel this party might be the last. All the best hip-hop feels like the cathartic near-future. Santogold is the latest realization of that revolution. But we'll get to her in a minute...

First things first. I thought I was rushing to get a chance to see D.R.I., but instead got Dri, not that big of a disappointment, but I've really nothing to say about the Dri except that she was perfectly acceptable indie jangle for getting crust out of one's eyes. Another set from Lykke Li followed. The fact that I stalked the Swedes to one more show is indicative to just how infectious they are.

Hly MF Jesus H. Christ though...David Fucking Banner stumped like he was running for president -- of the ultimate anarchist state. He spit, chucked beer bottles, started a mosh pit, spoke of topics ranging from current race relations to the price of gas...he was a fire-breathing dragon. With Mannie Fresh on the turntables and a live band behind him, he became an instant superstar with perhaps the most impassioned performance of the week. Granted a superstar in an alternate universe where a hip-hop artist from Mississippi rapping about clinical depression gets the same treatment as 50 Cent.


Exhausted...and made even more so by Telepathe's drolling, brown acid disco, I spied Diplo handing out new mixes, so I knew something incredible was about to take place. Sure enough he was there to assist Santogold, his latest ingenue who's being constantly compared to M.I.A. Not bad company to hold. Santogold, though surfing through world rhythms and flashy neon beats, is far from naive -- her songs are anthems with sung choruses and roughneck street knowledge. Here she brought along her female S1W's (maybe SNW's -- Security of the New World) who danced with tight, stern, choreography that matched the proceedings perfectly. By the time "Creator" rolled around, the tent was pure electricity. Remember way back in April when I said this could get huge?

The best part of this week has been our location, giving the ability to take regular breaks without having to walk for miles. I needed one after that (not to mention a cold shower). Cleaning up was necessary in order to go to church. Only two things stood in the way of SXSW's patron saint Roky Erickson, that was Duffy (not the webmaster but the latest British soul singer) and Okkervil River. Both were hindrances, as not being able to stand much longer started making me wish for home, my wife, and dog.


This is my third time seeing the "inventor of psychedelic rock," and even in the four year span since he's returned it's been a journey. By the grace of his brother, Roky looks completely recovered. He's gained a few, grown a Santa beard, but that voice has remained. See Roky solo now, see Roky belt out new songs, see Roky channel his inner demons and spirits for the benefit of the world. The Explosives, his backing band, kept chiming in about inducting him into the Rock Hall, but Roky's bigger than that. They should be begging for his approval. Being ten feet from a legend of his stature is what makes this fest so appealing -- magical.

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