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LIVE: 2012 mtvU Woodie Awards Festival, SXSW

by Couch Sessions

The 2012 mtvU Awards, which celebrates what’s popular with the college set, was preceded by a festival which included a whole lotta ribs, beer, watermelon popsicles, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and brand-new Doritos Jacked!  In between noshing, I got a chance to check out some of this year’s hottest up-and-coming artists.

Ed Sheeran, the UK’s best export this year, did his folk-hop thing.  If Jamie Oliver traded in his apron for a guitar, this is what he’d look and sound like.  I loved the soulful approach he took to his acoustic guitar-playing.   What’s really fun about him is that he’s a total ginger-head, but has the balls to beatbox AND spit convincing covers of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and Lil’ Kim’s “Lighters Up.”

Kimbra was a revelation to me.  Such a cute lil’ pint-size dose of New Zealand electro-soul-pop.  She had the most excellent use of an iPad-as-instrument that I’ve ever seen.  She sorta picks up where Amy Winehouse left off.  Not so much the retro stuff, but the jazzy soul riffs that she let explode from her every now and then.  She also reminded me of a female version of Jamie Lidell because he has that do-it-yourself spirit in his live shows.  She used overdubbing pedal effects to build up her own background vocals, while a simple drum machine, synth keys, and guitar pulled the rest of her set together nicely.

I got to see ASAP Rocky in all his grilled-up glory.  The self-proclaimed “pretty motherfucker” from Harlem got the crowd hyped pretty quickly, telling the mostly-caucasian crowd to get their motherfucking hands up…if they were, in fact, trill niggas and trill bitches.  Yeah.  Loved his take on fashion, taking Comme de Garçon to new ghetto-fabulous heights by wearing a black knit cap that read “Comme de Fuck Down.”

Also in appearance was the N.Y.-based indie band fun., and sure enough, they performed that fun-ass song, “We Are Young.”  LOVE that song.  Can’t get that song out of my head.  The song feature’s Janelle Monae, but unfortunately she wasn’t there to perform.

The last act I ended up seeing was Woodie Award winner Santigold, who backed by her Lolita-meets-S1W dancers.  She performed hits from her debut album as well as new songs from her upcoming album Master of My Make-Believe.  As my dear friend and colleague, who shall remain nameless, likes to say, “she look like she been raidin’ Marla Gibbs’ closet.”  Yeah, Santigold was looking crazy as hell with a Versace (?) sweatsuit with sweatshorts over top of the sweatpants.  Need I say more?