Music

SXSW: The Couch Sessions SXSW Awards 2014

by Winston "Stone" Ford

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Best Marketing Ploy – Kelis’ Jerk Ribs Food Truck

Much respect to Kelis! It’s one thing to have a Food Truck for an artist but it’s another thing to have said artist come out of the food truck looking like she just stepped off a video shoot. Unfortunately you can’t throw a rock at SXSW and not hit a branded experience, but at least Kelis knew that the best way to our ears was our stomachs.

Biggest Realization that Young Artists Have A Long Way to Go – Snoop Dogg Upstaging YG on his own set.

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I feel sorry for artists these days. I really do. We all know a co-sign from an established artists is a right of passage for any rising MC, but when both Ty $Sign and Snoop Dogg appeared on YG’s set at the FADER Fort, most of the crowd forgot who they were trying to see in the first place. The Snoop appearance is more poignant, as he proved that 90s and 2000s CD-based music still prevails over its streaming counterparts. The college-aged kids in the audience went nuts over a song that was released when they were probably 8 years old.

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Best Artist You Should’ve Been Checking For While You Were In Line trying See Jay-Z/Lady Gaga – Gavin Turek

If you spent your time in SXSW standing in long-ass lines, you’re The beautiful, LA-based singer Gavin Turek is hands down the most prolific artists at SXSW. Basically her R&B-influenced set was wedged between an Americana band and a hard/rock metal one and she won over every single person in that crowd. Not that many artists can do that. She makes eye contact with everyone during her set and I’m not gonna lie, her charm worked on me after 30 seconds. And I’m sorry kids, but SXSW is all about finding new artists. If you didn’t do that. You lost.

Biggest Disappointment – London Grammar

Man, I really wanted to like these guys, but I came away seriously disappointed from their live set at the FADER Fort. But I have to say it’s not entirely their fault. The crowd was Turnt Up. London Grammar is the definition of Turnt Down. The crowds didn’t match. Honestly FADER should look at creating two seperate stages. One for hip-hop/EDM and another for low key bands and acts.

Trend That Needs to DIE – Swaged-out Hip-Hop

This may be an old man talking, but rappers on stage rapping about how cool it is to be on stage at SXSW needs to stop. Who cares? And what is your name again? There are literally thousands of rappers in Austin last week, and what are you doing to stand out? Why should I pay attention to you?? Cause you have shades on and some groupie chicks? Child please.

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Biggest Threat To SXSW’s Well Being – Gentrification

Tons of condos are spouting up all over Austin recently, and as several large developers take advantage of the citie’s upwardly mobile population, will smaller venues be forced out of the downtown core? It’s already happening in several spots of concern (like across the street from FADER Fort). Would condo dwellers tolerate the general crowdedness and debauchery that makes Austin weird? We shall see.

Best Party – Comedy Central’s Kegs and Eggs

Again, some marketers try way too damn hard at SXSW. The best thing to do to get mass attention span? Alcohol and Food. Comedy Central’s Kegs and Eggs party was pretty upfront with their desiers, and the whole thing came off just like a college frat party, including the rather interesting shared bathroom space that forced men and women in the same small confines (that cute girl you’re talking to in the bathroom line? Yeah, watch her take a number 2.)

Best Kept Secret – NPR’s #Storied Party with Johnnyswim

So this didn’t happen at SXSW Music but I wish it did. During Interactive, NPR hosted #Storied, a rather intimate Story slam north of downtown Austin. It was a much respected reprieve from the hustle and bustle that permeates the festival and it was topped off by one of my favorite acts Johnnyswim. SXSW is in dire need of some more alternative, non-showcase programming.

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Best Sign That Rock Music Ain’t Dead Yet – Spirit Animal

SXSW started off as a rock music festival, but let’s face it, guitar-driven music is kind of a dying species. With hip-hop, pop, and EDM taking over national headlines at the festival, a reminder is sometimes needed that rock and roll still exists. The problem is that rock music has been replaced by sleepy “indie” acts like Arcade Fire. The DC-based act Spirit Animal has