De La Soul's Dave Jolicoeur looked out over the sea of hand-waving fans on Saturday (March 18) at Stubb's in Austin and noted, "It's cool to see an audience where I'm guessing half the people don't know who the band is on stage but they're still having a good time." That was a sage summation of Rachael Ray's annual Feedback party at South By Southwest.
The 10th edition of the music-and-food festival went much like past years -- smoothly, with long lines to get in, lengthy waits for food, and a three-stage, 14-band lineup that was more eclectic than any other SXSW day party. The gamut ran from De La Soul's hearty party to Weezer's anthemic rock, the Drums' New Wave and Lolo's soulful vocalics. With both real and wannabe foodies chomping on a Ray-designed menu of miniature hot dogs, brisket and tater tots, roasted corn and corn chips -- with plenty of queso -- Feedback once again shot wide and scored with its diversity.
There was certainly no shortage of musical highlights during the six-hour-plus party, attended by a total of 3,400 people, including celebrity chefs Anne Burrell, and Giada De Laurentiis, actor Adrian Grenier, and members of Spoon.
Weezer's 45-minute closing set included a brand new song, "Feels Like Summer" -- very appropriate for Saturday's blazing sunshine and 80-degree heat -- and a wealth of hits, starting with "Hash Pipe" and rolling through "Beverly Hills," "Undone (The Sweater Song)," "Say It Ain't So" and "Buddy Holly."
Frontman Rivers Cuomo donned a cape and crown for "King Of The World," and "Island In The Sun" was performed with the Artisan Quartet, featuring principle players from the Austin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Teddy Abrams of the Louisville Symphony and Britt Orchestra.
Abrams and the Artisans also performed with The Cringe -- led by Ray's husband, John Cusimano -- Benjamin Booker and the Districts. Singer-songwriter Hamilton Leithauser subbed for an ailing Action Bronson, while country singer Margo Price, usually seen in vintage Nashville elegance, played in summer day-appropriate Daisy Dukes, a denim shirt and a broad-rimmed hat.
On the indoor stage, meanwhile, Caitlyn Smith played her version of "Like I'm Gonna Lose You," the Megan Trainor/John Legend hit she co-wrote, while the new British trio Gutxi Bibang and their platform-heeled boots delivered an attention-getting set of pulverizing pre-noon rock.