100 Miles & Walkin’: The SXSW Diary (Day Two)
FRIDAY – DAY TWO
Running on two hours of sleep would be cantankerous for most people who were SXSW novices. Seeing that half of my planning went out the window on Day One (I forgot a damn backpack), a random trip to Wal-Mart was in order. At four in the morning. Stocking up on fruit snacks, water and a Starter backpack, the second day of my SXSW adventures would be a lot better organized than day one.
Itinerary of events (DJ Booth, Longhorn Hip-Hop, Perfect Attendance)? Check. People who could walk around? Check. Random detour in the middle of various sets to catch Odd Future? Done.
This wouldn’t be a story if I didn’t put all the intricate details in it. First off, checking out homegrown Texas hip-hop was the top of my agenda and walking into the Bat Bar, the feeling was more of a kickback than an actual hip-hop showcase. The show’s promoter Samaan Ashrawi had made it clear he wanted everything relaxed. XBOX tournaments near the television screens while NCAA tournament games occurred in the far back. If this was his idea of taking the UT experience to SXSW, he had achieved it and then some.
The idea grew even further when Ashrawi asked for a crowd to gather towards the state to introduce Kris Jordan. The name didn’t immediately catch on but once Ashrawi explained who’s seed he was, all the dots connected. You see, while Brad Jordan is arguably the greatest rapper the state of Texas has ever produced, he’s currently in federal custody for reasons not given to the press. Kris Jordan is the son of Scarface and somehow his first performance EVER was going to be on a SXSW stage.
A warm up freestyle over “Monster” gets Jordan into the swing of things but the lone problem is that his hype man’s microphone was actually louder than his, negating all the momentum he swaggered in with. A more than jovial crowd cheered Kris’ first performance, hopefully leading to more word when he gets a few more shows under his belt.
The downfall to being a part of so many different entities is that your coverage of SXSW strains itself. Houston locale and according to the Press down here, its most cherished underground rapper Fat Tony ran amok on the Longhorn Hip-Hop stage. Normally he would be clad in attire that would make the Prince of Zamunda blush but instead that distinction went to his hypeman A.D.D. who shockingly is a second generation Screwed Up Click member (he’s the son of Big Mello). The fun fact about Tony is that he has a song called “Buy My Shit” which would work for 75% of the industry but the only problem is that you have to see him in person to actually hear the song – there is no mp3 version anywhere.
Ashrawi worked the crowd, brought up a few more notable acts from all over the state including Houston artists to watch KAB Tha Don & KDogg not to mention the Austin supercrew The League of Extraordinary Gz and delivered on his mission statement of bringing Texas hip-hop to the forefront of SXSW, which brought a slight tear to my eye. Sadly no one saw that tear because I was headed to Perfect Attendance.
Normally having a home during Atlanta’s A3C festival in October, Fadia Kader’s Perfect Attendance set boasts not only a giant lineup but also a rousing distinction of being one of the few friendly SXSW socials. This was clearly evident by watching Aleon Craft going word for word with Dungeon Family emcee Backbone as the first generation DF member went through a short set including hitting “5 Deuce 4 Tre”, bringing me back to middle school when THAT was my favorite song in the world.
Angie Luv Photography
The story of my weekend will forever be the fact that I missed Freddie Gibbs perform in Austin but more on that later considering that the Booth has already covered it. The actual DJBooth show however was something to behold. Namely, you had DJ Z running around like the Hawks after the Bulls spanked their asses a few nights ago trying to get things in order, Lowkey of You Heard That New on the microphone as host, Meka of 2Dopeboyz on the 1s and 2s and me squarely in the position to watch Shane Eli crush a stage and prove why he is a Booth favorite.
The sole reason the DJ Booth/2Dopeboyz showcase will be remembered in SXSW lore is not because of the great acts that went on stage and did their thing (including J. NiCS who won runner-up in the Best Sticker category, same for Tanya Morgan who still believes that group hip-hop is dead), nor will it be remembered for me having a slight chat with Smoke DZA or accidentally scratching Big K.R.I.T. in the face as he was leaving.
Angie Luv Photography
It was how Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and the TDE camp got into a scuffle with the Dizzy Rooster security, which led to Schoolboy Q getting arrested.
According to reports, the TDE camp were in the backstage area sparking up. Of course, as liberal a city as Austin is (in the most conservative state in the union of all places), security wasn’t having it and politely asked the guys to toss their weed. They obliged, not before lighting up once more five minutes later. Security saw, attempted to smack the weed out of someone’s hand and a fight broke out. When the dust settled, Schoolboy Q was in hand cuffs and after leaving the venue I could see Lamar with the glaze that meant simply “Don’t fuck with me right now.”
Luckily, I wound up getting handed a Rice Krispie treat that wasn’t a Rice Krispie treat while walking to Venue 222 to randomly catch the end of a VIBE House showcase with EPMD and unlike the other SXSW events – there were FANS in attendance.
Erick & Parris Making Dollars hadn’t lost a step despite all of their internal woes and delivered on quite a set including a break for all of Erick’s solo hits in the mid-2000s. Weed was passed around heavily as Marvin Gaye’s silky soul blared through the speakers. Felt like I was at one of my parents house parties and couldn’t leave the room. Also learned that their ’91 hit “Crossover” was a direct effect of Vanilla Ice swinging up the charts like Tarzan on a vine.
After the VIBE show, I met up with a couple of friends of mine, effectively losing the trio of friends I came with and ventured all the way out to The FADER Fort to see Odd Future. As a journalist, there are few must see music moments you get to partake in with this oversaturated landscape. Watching Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats run through “Yonkers” and “Fuck The Police” is scary, even more scary considering the group damn near incited a riot in the crowd by flinging water bottles and whatever they could get their hands on. At least it didn’t turn out like Ben Weasel who fought two female fans during his set at South By and wound up becoming infamous thanks to the YouTube footage.
Thankfully, I lived long enough through OFWGKTA’s set to enjoy Matt & Kim bring Brooklyn to Austin. The indie duo has been a fan favorite of many and since they were closing out the Fort on this particular night, they had to top Odd Future. Naturally, OF’s energy transferred into M&K’s set which involved balloons, about twelve people body surfing, lots of yelling, Kim walking on fans like Jesus on water and a surprise appearance from Erykah Badu.
If Badu was a drug, I’d take it with no hesitation. Also, her ass has its own greatness that no one will deny. Ever.
Now, by the time we departed the Fort, it was 8:30 at night approximately and instead of taking a Taxi back to 6th Street, me and my two friends decided to walk. And walk. And walk some more. With dead batteries between the three of us, the trek from the Fort to 6th to 11th St had to at least encompass a mile or two. Any time you have to walk over a particular interstate to get to your destination, you know you’ve done some serious walking.
All of which led us to the Victory Grill for one last showcase. We saw Ro Spit from Detroit and he was kind enough to help my friends charge their phones while I dined on some absolutely delicious chicken fingers and fries (again, a must go for some soul food in ATX). The guy at the door tried to hassle me over entrance but he knew who I was so it wasn’t a big deal. I was dead tired but it wouldn’t stop me from catching at least a few more acts who had more than deserved a look.
The Dean’s List had been occurring at SXSW for the past two years and year three was a definite look in year three as notable Texas acts (Propain) joined the bill alongside Ro Spit & Stalley. First off however was Houston to Austin transplant Drastik and while his set was cut short, the normal “sweating as if I’ve been through a NY marathon during a heatwave” look he gives during all of his shows was clearly present. After all, what artist do you know will open up his set with a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of”?
Having seen Ro do his thing in Houston during the abridged Blu/J*DaVeY show that kickstarted the whole “J*DaVeY Will Never Play In Houston” idea, watching him work on a smaller stage made it a little better. His diction was crisp and definitely made it feel more homegrown than just rapper A on stage to a few fans. By the time Stalley hit the stage, it was nearing midnight and I had a walk to make back to my car. Once you’ve seen an entire mixtape performed on day one, you feel a little cheated when the artist is only given half the time.
Oh, and I made the walk all the way from 11th street back to 2nd to where my car was parked. If that was day two, what the hell was day three going to bring me? In a phrase: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Rap Fantasy.