Review: Senari x The Couch Sessions Showcase at Speakeasy, SXSW

by Winston "Stone" Ford

After several months of planning, The Couch Sessions, in association with NYC promoter Senari was proud to introduce their signature showcase at Speakeasy in Austin. It was, by far one of the most diverse lineups at SXSW this year, combining reggae, hip-hop, club, and electro.

Starting off the night was New York’s Deadly Dragon Soundsystem. The selectors played classic reggae tunes on all 45s, warming up the crowd for two straight hours.

Jahdan interview from SOCIETY HAE

Getting things started was Couch Sessions Approved Artist Jahdan Blakamoore. Coming off of his highly acclaimed CD Buzzrock Warrior and headliner of New York’s Brooklyn Tropical parties, the MC ratcheted through tracks from his debut solo album. Buzzrock combines everything from reggae rhythms to dubstep, and the MC (who was also featured on Diplo and Switch’s Major Lazer project), proved capable, rocking the audience for a full 40 minutes. The set, accompanied by his DJ Matt Shadetek, was a winner.

Next up, was the DMV’s Tabi Bonney, in what many people were calling his breakout performance. The front room of Speakeasy was packed with heads from all over the country – Texas, Cali, NYC, and a full slate of artists from the DC area in the front row. Tabi ROCKED IT, going through a set that included his hits “Rich,” “Superhero,” “Rock Bammas,” and his signature track “In The Pocket,” making it absolutely the most raucous performance of the night.

Swedish hip-hop sensation Adam Tensta followed, holding his own in front of the crowd, which thinned slightly as Madlib was rocking no more than 50 feet behind him in the other room. His combination of hip-hop and electro got the crowd jumping, as people were waiting over two years to see him perform in Texas. Tracks like “Dopeboy (Do You Think That I Sell Drugs),” were straight dope, and I was actually surprised to see that a lot of people in the audience knew the lyrics to his songs, proving that the distance between Sweden and Texas is shorter than most people think.

Ending the night was New York’s Cubic Zirconia. Already one of the most buzzed bands coming into SXSW, Tiombe Lockhart and company continued to wow audiences with the dope combination of soul, club, and R&B, as well as some dope percussion. Let’s face it. Ms. Lockhart is one of the sexiest frontwomen in music at the moment, and her sultry movements and short dress most surely got the crowd more than a little excited.

But it’s all about the music right? And the music was the winner of their set, as she got the Texas audience to scream “Fuck Work,” and move along to the track “Josephine.”

At the end of the night, we were blessed with the sounds of Gavin Holland. By that time, the crowd had thinned out considerably, and the dance floor was left with our friends and associates that we met during out time in DC. We danced and celebrated with smiles on our faces, knowing that our showcase truly killed the game.

Big up to Austinist, Do 512, Newschannel 8 Austin, Tarik from RadioMilwaukee, Chuck, the Stone’s Throw Crew, Campo$ and the bellhop from the hotel for rolling through, the girls who drove 3 hours from Houston to see Tabi, and everybody else who showed up to Speakeasy that Wednesday. It was truly a special night, and we will most certainly be back next year.