SXSW 2013: Laura Mvula, Inc. and Earl Sweatshirt – The Most Disappointing Acts of SXSW

It’s quite interesting that the three most disappointing artists of SXSW were playing on the same day at the same venue. And honestly, it was the three groups I had the highest expectations for at the festival. Unfortunately due to nerves, technical difficulties and downright over expectations, the three artists below completely underwhelmed on the big stage.


Photo by Reginald Duvivier

Laura Mvula

OK, so Ms. Mvula was NOT that disappointing per say, she was actually amazing. Mvula was unfortunately the victim of playing the wrong venue at the wrong time. Her orchestra heavy, subdued set works better at a Royal Albert Hall or Lincoln Center, not at a day party full of drunk French Montana fans.

Laura’s subdued and groundbreaking set is a sight to see. Her music is transcendent  and I’m already making plans to see her again, preferably with my girlfriend in tow.


Photo by Adam Kissick


I’ve been fascinated by this act from the jump. Two brothers who look like Marilyn Manson’s sons (or at least the goths from high-school) singing minimalist 80s inspired DeBarge R&B? Crazy Their tracts have been on repeat on my iPhone for weeks.

But what sounds good on paper (er…Soundcloud) doesn’t always work out in real life. Straddled by technical difficulties and nerves, the group completely bombed their FADER Fort set. Due to a bad mic setup and a bass guitar overpowering the mix, lead singer Andrew Aged already murky voice was deemed incomprehensible by everyone in the building. And the nerves showed as the group wasn’t able to compensate on the fly.

I’m still quite curious about this band. I wonder if their goth-meets R&B vibes are the future of the genre. I’ll be watching closely, and “The Place” is still on repeat.



Photo by Reginald Duvivier

Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy

Remember two years ago when Odd Future hype completely took over SXSW? When fans would rip down the fences to get into a show and celebrities were brown nosing the crew for autographs?

Those days are long gone.

I would bet that most people in the building had no clue who Earl Sweatshirt was or why there was a fight to get up to the front row during his performance. Sweatshirt has been a bit of a mystery to most, dropping a rather incredible album and then disappearing to a boarding school on a Pacific Island after his parents found out about his Odd Future dealings.

Things have changed. Since Earl dropped, the rap consensus has moved on to other rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$ who have put out solid projects in his wake. Other than Frank Ocean, the Odd Future crew seems to be in disrepair , trying desperately to get back to their “Next Big Thing” perch. For what it’s worth, Sweatshirt had a decent performance, but he needs to hone his skills and stage presence before people will take him seriously. But hey, you gotta admire the dude, who has a smile on his face from start to finish. He’s living the American Dream, and with a little time I hope he can become the rapper we want him to be.