The 7 Best Things We Saw at SXSW 2016 Wednesday: Kacey Musgraves, Iggy Pop, Ryan Adams & More
(photo: sarahmvasquez Instagram)
Day two of Austin, Texas’s South by Southwest Music festival was basically #WomanCrushWednesday, with an array of strong, talented, fearless females providing both inspiration and entertainment. But Ryan Adams and Iggy Pop also impressed. Here were our highlights:
FLOTUS Brought the Girl Power… and the Boyz II Men Nostalgia
Only Michelle Obama could convince a packed ballroom of music-biz revelers to wake up at 8 a.m. (an absolutely ungodly hour by SXSW standards) to attend her morning keynote address. The fabulous First Lady – accompanied by Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Sophia Bush, and Diane Warren (#squadgoals) – was in town to promote her Let Girls Learn initiative and its new Warren-penned all-star theme song, “This Is for My Girls.” Her hour-long discussion touched on various serious topics – discrimination in the music industry, AIDS, crack addiction, abusive relationships, self-esteem issues – but there were moments of levity, too, like when Mrs. Obama gushed about her love for Stevie Wonder, or when Elliott gave Latifah props for being her personal musical inspiration.
But the cutest moment came when Michelle wistfully mentioned that her time in the White House is almost up, and then launched into a few lines of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” She pledged to keep doing good work after her FLOTUS tenure ends, but really, we’re going to miss her. It’s a shame she won’t consider running for President herself.
Omigod, Deap Vally Were Like, Totally Awesome
Kicking off the FLOODfest party at Cedar Street Courtyard, Los Angeles’s Lindsay Troy and Julie Edwards emerged magnificently in matching neon rock ‘n’ roll circus unitards (more #squadgoals), then proceeded to trashily bash out a raging, raucous set of badass, bad-girl blues-rock. They totally crushed it… and we totally girl-crushed on them, hard.
Claire Evans, the cerebral and quirky frontwoman of the arty electropop outfit YACHT who moonlights as a science/tech writer for Vice, somehow channeled Annie Lennox’s sleek sophistication and Jennifer Lawrence’s real-girl adorkableness as she crooned “songs about sex, dancing, and death” at the Pandora Discovery Den. Sometimes she sang into a prop landline telephone receiver, but nothing about her performance was phoned-in. “I thought the future will be cooler,” she sang at one point. Well, we’ve seen the future of dance-rock, actually, and it seems pretty cool – because YACHT and Evans will definitely be at the genre’s forefront.
Kacey Musgraves Played a Bloody Good Show
Over at the Pandora Den’s rival SXSW hot-spot, the Spotify House, country music’s great rhinestone-bedazzled hope, Grammy-winner Kacey Musgraves, charmed from the moment she hit the sun-soaked outdoor stage in a fringed Nudie-suit ensemble and remarked, “I have one question. Why the f— did I wear a long-sleeved outfit? I’m from Texas; what’s my problem?” She then added with a chuckle, “Oh, it’s fine. I’ll just sweat out the Bloody Mary I had a minute ago – it’ll make room for more alcohol!” She maintained her poise, however – whether winsomely crooning her poignant ruminations on dead-end, dream-deferred small-town life, or playing crowd-pleasing covers of Gnarls Barkley, Bob Marley, and Nancy Sinatra tunes. Whatever was in her Bloody Mary, we want some. Kacey is the coolest.
Having the time of our lives watching. Kacey Musgraves cover Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” #sxsw #sxsw2016 #spotifyhouse
A video posted by Yahoo Music (@yahoomusic) on Mar 16, 2016 at 4:53pm PDT
Iggy Pop Was Nightclubbing, He Was What’s Happening
It wasn’t all about the ladies at SXSW this Wednesday; this elder-statesmen Stooge owned the night. He hit the ACL Live at the Moody Theater stage in a sharp black suit and charged right into the tone-setting “Lust for Life” and “Sister Midnight,” and by the time the 68-years-awesome punk icon had finished his third song, the new track “American Valhalla,” he was shirtless – his famously gnarled, sinewy, constantly contorting, and occasionally stage-diving torso on proud display.
Incredibly, this was only the third show for Pop and his new all-star backing band – current collaborator Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age; time-keeping beast Matt Helders, of the Arctic Monkeys; Chavez’s Matt Sweeney on bass; and multi-instrumentalists Dean Fertita (QOTSA, the Dead Weather) and Troy Van Leeuwen (QOTSA, A Perfect Circle, Failure). But they were a tight and aggressive unit, sounding like they’d been playing together for years. Together, they tore through 22 tunes, including Berlin-era-Bowie-esque tracks from the stellar new Homme-produced album Post Pop Depression (“Gardenia” “Break Into Your Heart”); solo classics like “Funtime,” “Nightclubbing,” “The Passenger,” and “China Girl”; and rarities like “Success” and “Baby.” The crowd went wild. At one point, when Pop taunted/tempted the audience by yelling, “Come up here and f— me!,” it seemed like he had more than a few volunteers.
Post Pop Depression might be Pop’s final album, according to his recent interviews – which is a shame, since, judging by his SXSW performance, he seems at the peak of his powers right now, his lust for life very much intact. (We don’t want to call this a resurgence, since he’s been “resurging” since the late ‘70s, really – but Post Pop Depression is the best thing he’s done in years.) However, if Pop retires after this, he’s going out in style – and, thankfully, he has managed to completely reclaim his name, after a year or two when many people annoyingly associated “Iggy” with a certain Australian rapper. There is only one Iggy, and he ruled SXSW this year.
Ryan Adams Was the Cat’s Pajamas
In the cruelest and most FOMO-inducing scheduling conflict of SXSW 2016, Ryan Adams’s special “Music Is Universal” showcase at the JW Marriott Hotel overlapped with Iggy’s ACL appearance. But the moment Iggy’s set ended, a speedy and intrepid pedicab driver raced us through downtown Austin traffic to the Marriott, just in time to see avowed feline enthusiast Adams ogling an audience member’s flashy kitty-print bomber jacket. “There is no way you are leaving with that jacket. I have an 18-member crew,” Adams semi-joked, before the fan willingly and eagerly handed over the garment. The jacket went perfectly with Adams’s kitschy stage decorations – which included upright ‘80s arcade games, massive Spinal Tap-style amps, a vintage Dr. Pepper soda machine, and, most notably, a cardboard cat cutout – but he handed it back after just one song. Too bad. It was a good look. Ryan was the cat’s pajamas, almost literally.
Miike Snow Delivered “Animal” Style
The Swedish-American indie-poppers played their first SXSW show in four years, closing the night at StubHub’s HQ. And while new tunes like “Genghis Khan” and “Heart Is Full” went over quite well, this show mainly reminded us that “Animal” is one of the best pop singles of the past decade.
Miike Snow’s “Animal” NEVER GETS OLD. Perfectly written song. #sxsw2016 #sxsw #stubhub
A video posted by Yahoo Music (@yahoomusic) on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:08pm PDT
SXSW day three promises to be another music marathon, with a 40th anniversary Ramones tribute plus concerts by Charli XCX, CHRVCHES, the Kills, Bloc Party, and even country legend Loretta Lynn. Will we keep up, or will we pass out face-first into a plate of Stubb’s BBQ? Come back Thursday and find out.
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