What We Loved At SXSW On Thursday

Mar 17, 2017
Originally published on March 17, 2017 2:16 pm

Late yesterday evening, Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Katie Presley and Stephen Thompson wandered the streets of Austin recapping a day of music. For everyone, it was a day of political music that still made space for joy. Katie saw mostly rap yesterday, and she was especially struck by Moor Mother, whose fiery set had also inspired an excellent performance from New York-based rapper SAMMUS. Robin's favorite act of the day was Barcelona-based Pavvla, — despite the fact that the band played on a hotel deck, facing the pool — but he was also fortunate enough to witness a series of new dance moves from Future Islands frontman Samuel Herring. Stephen had a day of world music and couldn't keep himself from dancing at the Tribu Baharu set. Bob loved Tunde Olaniran, who made an open, hate-free space for his audience. But the image that stuck with him most from the day was an encounter with a man wearing leopard underwear who chased him while yelling "Forgive yourself!"

Every morning, we're sharing a recap of the previous day's SXSW activity. We'll also be sharing short blurbs describing public radio personalities' favorite discoveries from the day before. Check back on this page for updates throughout the day. For a full list of our coverage, check out our first recap.

Ho99o9 at Buffalo Billiards

I was tipped off about Ho99o9 because I saw on Twitter that the New Jersey hardcore/hip-hop band's Wednesday night show had been shut down in the middle of its second song due to an out-of-control mosh pit. At SXSW, sometimes you just need to follow the leads and forget the long list of bands you came hoping to see, so I went to Buffalo Billiards seeking noise, hardcore beats and some serious raging against the machine. The trio more than delivered. They hit the stage right on time at 12:10, and for 28 glorious and refreshing (albeit punishing) minutes they flexed their rock muscles. With a live drummer, grinding electronics and the intense screamo co-vocals of Eaddy and theOGM, the trio conjured Bad Brains, Big Black, Rob Zombie and Black Flag. Ho99o9's set was revelatory. Flailing across the stage and into the pit, the singers exuded complete control of their noise and vision. Just when you thought they couldn't expend any more energy, Eaddy ended the set with a back flip — an expression of the musical liberation they'd achieved. —Bruce Warren, WXPN

Aldous Harding at the Clive Bar

On my third day at SXSW 2017, I heard such powerful music from all over the world — including Loah from Ireland, Jain from Paris, DakhaBrakha from Ukraine and a Thai funk band from Texas called Khruangbin — but my favorite artist came from New Zealand. Aldous Harding has a haunting voice (Vashti Bunyan could be a touchstone). The other striking part of her performance is the unusual way she emotes with her body and her face, in particular. There's an exaggerated mouthing and stretching — not quite contorting — that goes on as she sings. I was reminded of silent film stars and the way they exaggerated their actions to convey emotion. At moments, I saw Charlie Chaplin in her motions. It was all stunning and memorable even despite the loud band blasting from a venue across the street. It's the upside and downside of SXSW: You not only get to see music from all over the world, but sometimes you hear it playing all at once. —Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered

Special Explosion at Cheer Up Charlies

Waiting in line at SXSW is a constant fact of life, but it's also a helpful resource. In a line to see Jay Som (who was great), I met someone who recommended going to Cheer Up Charlies' inside stage for Special Explosion. So, I followed the tip and walked in to hear the band mid-jam with laid-back, intertwining guitar lines. Later on in the set, they brought out vocal harmonies and pulsing rhythms that leaned atmospheric while remaining grounded. The Seattle, Wash. five-piece is more new-to-me than new, but in playing material from a forthcoming album, their set felt like pure forward momentum. —Sarah Wardrop, WFUV

Pavvla by the pool

I talked about Pavvla on the All Songs Considered SXSW preview show and getting to see her play on Thursday was one of the week's more memorable moments. The young singer from Barcelona, her drummer and her keyboardist get bonus points for pulling it off at one of the worst imaginable locations — sandwiched between two large pillars, outside, at the end of a swimming pool ... at a hotel. The front desk clerk had to wave his security badge over the entrance to the pool area to let me in. But the performance was nothing short of enchanting. Her voice is swoon-worthy and the music is a transfixing mix of mysterious electronics and gently strummed guitar. Pavvla sells out shows back home in Spain. Here's hoping they can do the same here in the states. —Robin Hilton, All Songs Considered

Otoboke Beaver at Maggie May's Rooftop

This all-ladies punk band from Kyoto, Japan, brought down the house with their wailing guitars (almost literally — the loft in which they were playing was shaking with the force of their music). Their hardcore punk sound was tempered by their presence onstage, which was at turns coy, flirtatious and completely badass. They performed entirely in Japanese, but the language barrier didn't matter one whit. Their energy was so infectious, it crossed all language barriers. Their show was a ton of fun. —Mallory Yu, All Things Considered

Joan of Arc at Cheer Up Charlies

My first stop after the day party was Cheer Up Charlies, where Joan of Arc (the 22-year-old band led by Tim Kinsella) opened the Polyvinyl showcase. Joan of Arc today range from folk-style singing to laconic rapping, all drenched in feedback. If the band were to land a song in a movie, it would be a Tom Cruise vehicle in which he became unhinged. The Joan of Arc song would play as he wandered through a club and realized just how far he's drifted from the reality he thought he knew. —Jay Gabler, The Current

The Blind Owls at Hotel Vegas (Volstead Stage)

Yesterday, I made my way to Hotel Vegas for a day party jam-packed with artists I had been wanting to see (Tim Darcy, WAND, Cosmonauts and Alex Cameron, to name a few), but it was a group I'd never heard of that blew my mind: The Blind Owls. A four-piece from Corpus Christi, Tex., these guys have crafted a sound akin to the modern throwback '60s soul masters J.D. McPherson & Nick Waterhouse. They were a fiery ball of energy onstage and their singer rocked some fancy footwork any chance he got. The bass player was stationed in front of the drummer and —because he only had about 10 inches of stage to work with — he was nearly falling off the stage as he bounced around. I couldn't help but bounce around a little myself. —Matthew Casebeer, opbmusic

Jealous of the Birds at St. David's Church

Thursday night was filled with plenty of fun moments, but the top discovery for me goes to Jealous of the Birds. Performing at the Bethel room at St. David's Church, Naomi Hamilton sings with a softness akin to Feist, but she is clearly her own artist. Hailing from Northern Ireland, Hamilton's band was a bit more stripped-down as a two-piece, but the setup worked beautifully in the church. Her set was hushed but confident, and it featured the warmest electric guitar playing I've ever heard. Each song was great and she even threw in a Neil Young cover of "Out on the Weekend" for good measure. —Russ Borris, WFUV

Liniker E Os Caramelows at Russian House

On a night full of performances that evoked spirited celebration — the joyous affirmations of Tunde Olaniran, the intensity of rapper/singer Trapo, the giddy Colombian dance party of Tribu Baharú — it was harder than usual to pick just one highlight. But I'll confess to surprise at where the Brazilian band Liniker E Os Caramelows took its night-closing set at Russian House. Frontwoman Liniker Barros often assumes the position of forlorn balladeer, but tonight she presided over a vibrant, horn-laden spectacle while radiating star power. —Stephen Thompson, NPR Music

Troker at Flamingo Cantina

Saying Troker is a jazz band from Mexico doesn't even begin to cover the musical punch these guys deliver. Their high energy 1 a.m. show at the Flamingo Cantina was a powerful display of how they use their expert jazz chops in the service of music that is as danceable as it is cerebral. —Felix Contreras, Alt.Latino

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