The full gallery of my photos from the night can be found here.
Last night was the first evening of the music segment of SXSW 2012, and the warm Austin streets were filled with expectant concert-goers from pretty much all walks of life. At every single official party huge lines choked the sidewalks, with jubilant and/or drunken fashion-conscious twenty-somethings spilling over in to the street.
The Hype Hotel party, an official showcase by The Hype Machine, is a case in point. The photo below belies the true scale of the massive line which, in fact, wrapped around the building and extended for a city block.
The moral of the story – if you’re planning on attending an official event this week, be sure to arrive a couple hours early.
Having received this advice early on in the day, I heeded it and arrived at the Sound Pellegrino vs Body High showcase rooftop just as the sun was going down. I was met by Orion Garcia, aka DJ Orion, who had been hard at work for hours preparing a visual display that he would run that evening to accompany the performances.
As perhaps an intentional (and perfect) analogy to the music I’d hear later on, the light display used a collection of small elements, movement within those elements, and ample empty space to create the whole. Picture in your mind (or examine the photo below) full motion video comprised of hypnotic 3d visuals and surreal stop-motion looking cartoons, with dashes of ultra-bright solid patterning thrown in for good measure. We talk about this idea a lot on Salacious; leaving space in your music for it to breathe and move, and I was really impressed with Orion’s analog of this – his comment that it’s merely “ballin on a budget” was overly modest.
The whole venue was visually very exciting. Exposed brick behind the visual display, and minimal lighting throughout set among a tribal / jungle-esque decor, with a 270 degree view of the Austin skyline. The rooftop was a perfect setting for the warm, clear Austin evening.
Setting: check. All that was left was the set (sets, actually).
Let me just say, before I delve in to specificities, that I was extremely impressed with the versatility of the performers. I think that it’s perhaps the local culture, and varied cultural influences from the latin, rap, and island music scenes that are much more prevalent in LA than they are in Toronto.
First up was Cedaa, from the Body High camp. Never before have I heard a set of bass music that had so many hips winding. His selections were downright funky, with a strong trap music influence. As far as they go, you cannot ask for a better opening DJ. He started with the perfect energy, and built slowly & reliably as his set progressed. By the time he was done, we all had our buzz on and were hungry.
Next up was another performer from the Body High roster, S________. Now here is a guy who epitomizes why musicians are finding success at a decreasingly young age. If hungry describes how much the slightly-intoxicated dancers were at around 1030, voracious would describe his production schedule and work-ethic.
His set was very eclectic. It started out with a recent personal favourite by Nina Kraviz, and spanning across the bass music spectrum all the way from what is ostensibly booty-house to with some rather future-dub sounding stuff. The garage influence was the most apparent in his set out of all the performers of the evening, to be sure.
When his set was done, the crowd was REALLY amped. As sure proof, in the DJ world, when the music cut to give pause for DJ Funeral’s intro the crowd roared. The mood was changed pretty dramatically. The sounds coming from the masked man’s turntables were deep, lush, broken, and very tribal. It matched the jungle-esque ambiance I mentioned earlier perfectly, and set the tone for his set.
His mixes, in stark contrast to the rolling tribal rhythms which pervaded most of his selections of the evening, were razor sharp. The pace moved extremely quickly, and each successive introduction brought the energy of the room slightly higher.
The final set I listened to last night was the LA-based duo comprised by Jerome Potter (of LOL Boys) and Samo Sound Boy. The duo, who recently released an eponymous debut DJ Dodger Stadium, had a rooftop built for 200 rammed with a large portion of the 3000 person guestlist, and they were on full-tilt.
The guys’ skill was immediately apparent in their selections and mixing. Their extensive experience playing in LA and abroad was put to good use – the energy of their set and engagement with the crowd was mesmerizing. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and the entire cast of musicians cycling through the stage to show their support and enthusiasm for their performance.
If there’s one takeaway from the night, it’s that for those of us who place importance on versatility, we all have a lot of work to do. I learned a great deal about the way bass music is changing this year, and make no mistake, Body High is pushing it forward rapidly.