SXSW 2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Phosphorescent, Natalie Maines, Richard Thompson, China Rats and More: Review and Photos
|Divine Fits at SXSW|
Divine Fits really are both. A noon radio broadcast at the convention center isn't exactly the most thrilling setting for Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner's recent incarnation, but you try telling them that. The chemistry between the two trumps -- at least on stage -- their non-side projects Spoon and Handsome Furs; a final, loud and sweat-showering cover of Nick Cave's "Shivers" generated just that.
The ghost of Amy Winehouse and a baritone saxophone. On the patio stage at Red Eyed Fly, Chicago's Wild Belle, featuring brother and sister Elliott and Natalie Bergman, tried to raise the spirt of Amy Winehouse; take that not as a dig. More indie-dark than R&B-cursed, the band dealt a good groove and ended with a dub-drenched finale, featuring bari sax and the sultry Bergman coming into her own style. Such a transformation on stage is a rare happening during the grueling SXSW week.
|Richard Thompson at SXSW|
Fan down, Richard Thompson up. Your mother told you to hydrate but you didn't listen, because you're 55 years old and have been microbrewing it since leaving the shade of your man cave. Standing for hours under an unforgiving sun on a black-top lot outside Waterloo Records isn't for amateurs. The aforementioned gentlemen toppled two songs into Richard Thompson's sterling "Celtic power trio" set on Friday afternoon. Thompson stopped playing immediately, called for medical attention and five minutes later was back where he left off: proving why he earns the star on his beret with every chime and thrum from his rose Stratocaster.
|The Mavericks at SXSW|
The ghost of Gram, the gospel of funk and the country of the Mavericks. "What the hell," said Emmylou Harris to her old friend and former bandmate Rodney Crowell. "Let's do 'Wheels.'" The song, like the duo's opening number "Return of the Grievous Angel," was written by Gram Parsons. Crowell didn't have to play Gram to Emmylou's Emmylou, but it happened and who would want it otherwise. Just before this Friday-afternoon-closing set at Waterloo Records, the Mavericks returned from the grave of retirement, sounding like Bakersfield had been moved across the border and smiling like the band knew what it could still do with dual accordions, dual horns and quintet harmonies. If that wasn't soulful enough, the Relatives, legends of Dallas gospel-funk, moved smooth and just a little psychedelic, Curtis Mayfield-style, across the stage as the sun receded. It won't happen but I'll ask all the same: Someone, anyone, take a chance and book this band in St. Louis. They won't be happening like this forever.
|Kitten at SXSW|
Punk-rock pole dancing without a pole to "Purple Rain." This happened: A singer named Chloe Chaidez of L.A. buzz band Kitten flailed, gyrated, slammed, leapt, purred, posed, squatted (active verbs don't fail me now) and squealed S&M-style around the stage of the Clive Bar in the trendy Rainey Street District for a Friday night showcase. Yes, Prince was in town on Saturday for a lottery show, but I'm guessing "Purple Rain" wasn't a last-minute call. The sex appeal, leopard-print shorts and all, had calculation and teeth. More punk and less drama and this band could change my nieces and nephews' lives.