MUSIC: SXSW 2014 – Fader Fort Highlights

While there are hundreds of showcases across Austin during South By South West, none is mightier then the Fader Fort where it comes to amenities (free alcohol!) acts (Rawse!) and free stuff (Sneakers!). Their showcases, just like their magazine, is a good showcase of what will be officially dubbed cool months down the line and it’s generally a joy to attend; if you can get in that is.

First is the 100s, who may not have been the most popular person to play the Fort but definitely was the prettiest; he couldn’t keep his hands away from flicking his glorious locks of hair. 100s whole steeze is an updated and higher octane take on Bay Area pimp talk a la Too Short, which should be offensive but because it’s so preposterous comes off endearing. “A nigga aint missing her, I caught her in the shower stealing my conditioner” While 100s played early set he kept the energy up, worked the stage well, and won the crowd over.

Connan Mockasin is a psychedelic pop musican from New Zealand. He dresses weird, pushes/processes his voice to a weird wavy octave (and his guitar work follows in kind) and reminds me of those weird hippies. Considering Austin is a college town, Connan rightfully turned up the jam and solo aspects of his work to a surprisingly enthusiastic crowd (Austin loves it’s guitars). While people would probably describe him as 60’s pop, really Mockasin resides in the 70’s AM radio space, half pop, half soul. I mean as creepy as this video is, it makes me want to give up my panties.

Sam Smith is less a new act, more of a coming of age. After bursting through the scene with collaborators Disclosure, Sam’s been working on etching out his own solo career. Live he’s got the same chops as he does on record, which means great. He’s got solid stage presence, and basically if he keeps on doing what he’s doing (putting out solid product with great producers) he’s going to have a long career.

Jeremih and Shlohmo got put together by Addidas’s X Yours Truly mashup program last year and the pairing stuck: they’ve got an EP coming out in a few months. What makes Jeremih stand out from the army of wanna be R&B lotharios is less about his voice but his songwriting; his lyrics may be silly at times (looking at you Birthday Sex) but he knows his melodies and hooks. Shlohmo found a way to stand out in a sea of cloud rap/slowed up trap artists by just doing it better then the others. What makes this project a worthy one to keep an eye on is how well they play off each other; Shlohmo’s work with Jeremih is prettier and more nuanced then his regular stuff and without such constrained R&B production Jeremih’s able to follow his little vocal leads wherever he feels like.

Msa Ysa was a one man electronic band with vocals and a surprisingly harsh sound. Technical issues plagued his set in the beginning, which ironically enough served his beats pretty well (along with his frustrated demeanor). Then everything got fixed, his vocals started working and he became a different act entirely; much more new wave and pop orientated. But since he’s Canadian at least he kept it real in his video with hockey players.

Despite having a good 30 plus worth of songs on the internet between mixtapes and his one two hit single punch of “Danny Glover” and “Stoner”, up and coming ALT rap weirdo Young Thug found a way to only play three songs. It’s a shame because he seemed as animated live as he does on wax, worked the stage, and seeemd in great spirits to be rocking such a big crowd. He left us wanting more, which I guess was the point.

Several DJ’s spun in between various sets during the four days of the Fort; my clear favorite was Kaytranada. He spins a mean bass heavy, your favorite DJ probably killed his Janet Jackson remix, and he kept people moving the whole time he was there. Plus, he was smoking weed.

Renaissance man Theophilus London also rocked the crowd. He came out with a guitarist that looked like he teleported out of 1960’s Haight Street and played a set of new jams that well, jammed. He also had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, ending his set crowd surfing along and letting them grope his yellow pants.

Chromeo is transitioning into a stadium friendly act pretty nicely. They came out to sport stadium chants of “Chro-Me-Oh…Oh OHHHH…Oh”, put on rock star moves while they performed, and pretty much had the crowd going ape shit the entire time. It’s nice to see a band grow through good old hard work while keeping a sense of humor, and all the new tracks they played seemed great. I mean, how can you hate when they’ve got such great videos like this.