Miguel, Melanie Fiona, B.o.B Highlight BET's SXSW Showcase
Miguel, Melanie Fiona, B.o.B Highlight BET's SXSW Showcase

It wasn't hard to find a party on Thursday at South By Southwest; it was, after all, St. Patrick's Day. But you'd be hard-pressed to find one more off the hook, for better and for worse, than BET's Music Matters showcase at Kiss & Fly.

A perpetually packed house turned out for a potent exhibition of emerging R&B and hip-hop talent that, due to frustratingly long set changes, stretched well beyond the normal 2 a.m. closing limit for showcases. There was drama, too: rapper Big Sean, riding high with his hit "My Last," missed his flight from Los Angeles, where he was working on a new video for the song, and was ultimately pushed to the end of the bill after B.o.B, who performed two shows on Thursday.

SXSW: Billboard Showcase Photos

But the fans inside the modernistic dance club kept their energy up and were rewarded with some genuinely killer sets. Miguel and his band rocked through a muscular set of hits such as "Sure Thing" and "All I Want is You" (though without record-mate J. Cole, who performed later in the evening), and Melanie Fiona, whose powerhouse set romped through "Give It to Me Right," "It Kills Me," "Bang Bang" and "Monday Morning" as well as "Gone and Never Coming Back," the first single from her sophomore album, "The MF Life," that's due out this summer.

Marsha Ambrosious, meanwhile, stretched her solo wings, pumping her new "Late Nights & Early Mornings" album with acrobatic vocalics on songs such as "Hope She Cheats on You (With a Basketball Player)," "Far Away"and "Your Hands," as well as her take on "Butterflies," which she co-wrote for the late Michael Jackson's "Invincible" album.

SXSW 2011 Main Page

Even DJ Premier rocked the house with a high-octane between-act set. And Jay-Z stallion J.Cole spent his 45 minutes all over the place, complaining about having lost his voice - which was noticeably hoarse - but still holding the crowd for hits like "Who Dat," complete with a left side/right side audience "duel," and "Lights Please" and touching on collaborations such as "In the Morning," which he recorded with Drake. There were shout-outs to late rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., and some shouting at the sound techs for a better monitor mix.

The showcase was taped by BET and will be available at iTunes next week.


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