NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Friday
No joke: Thundercat is a ridiculous bass player. Add Captain Murphy (Flying Lotus' rapping alter-ego) and a live drummer and things got a little jammy at Austin Music Hall.
It was too early in the day to attract a big crowd, but that didn't stop Saint Rich's Christian Peslak from mugging for the camera at IFC Fairgrounds.
Yannick Ilunga led the Cape Town-based Petite Noir with his sweet, somber voice at Cheer Up Charlie's.
At 1:00 a.m., Real Estate's set at Central Presbyterian Church was perfectly calm — the complete opposite of the chaos on 6th Street.
Though their set was cut short due to the Damon Albarn show (featuring guests like Snoop Dogg) that followed, Taylor Gang and Wiz Khalifa still managed to get a ton of people onstage at the Fader Fort.
Temples revived some of that '60s British Invasion style to Stubb's for Spin's day party.
Warpaint played a three-song set at Stubb's for Spin's day party. The L.A.-based quartet released its self-titled album in January.
M83's Morgan Kibby led her own project, White Sea, at the IFC Fairgrounds with a powerful, Kate Bush-inspired voice over lush synth-pop.
Marshaling an army of effects pedals at Hype Hotel, the London-based Wolf Alice reminded us of a time when noise-pop was a lot fuzzier and dreamier.
Friday was a return to full throttle music consumption for NPR Music's team at SXSW, with few obligations other than seeing as many bands as possible. We saw old favorites and new obsessions, tried to squeeze through the crowds on Austin's streets, watched Lady Gaga navigate questions about her career — and reasons behind the corporate sponsorship of her SXSW show — in this year's keynote address and dragged a bunch of bands into the back yard of a local boutique to perform short sets (keep your eye out for these).
Among the All Songs Considered crew — Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and returning guest Katie Presley — the day was won by Moon Hooch, a Brooklyn-based instrumental trio of two saxophonists and a drummer who got a deeply invested crowd dancing in unison.
Stephen gave a portion of his schedule over to recommendations from colleagues — Moon Hooch and the Front Bottoms courtesy of Bob and Denitia and Sene and Lowell as picked by Katie Presley. He also ducked out of the mob on 6th Street to see The Pack A.D., a ferociously loud duo whose set felt "controlled and calm" compared to the cacophany of the crowd outside. Katie had a string of good luck, making it in to see seven straight bands she wanted to see, when and where she wanted to see them, a near-impossible feat at the ever-more crowded SXSW. Then, because the laws of SXSW require balance, she got shut out of six shows in a row.
Bob's non-Moon Hooch highlight came out of a trip to the Austin Convention Center, a "soulless" venue that he usually tries to avoid. But the Norwegian band Highasakite, which blends pop and chant, made endearing music that was atmospheric and catchy enough to overcome the site's limitations. Robin saw Perfect Pussy once again — "I'm just absolutely smitten" — and Kishi Bashi, who played new songs with a full band, including electrified banjo, to a packed house.
You can hear that whole conversation in the audio player on this page, and read highlights from our staff in Austin below. Listen to our discoveries in a running playlist of music by the best bands we've heard so far, at the bottom of this page. We'll have more updates throughout the day: You can follow along with all our SXSW coverage in real time via Twitter (@nprmusic), Instagram and Facebook.
Friday SXSW Highlights
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