SXSW 2015 Day 5: Hudson Mohawke Surprises at Fader Fort, Timbaland Introduces Tink, J. Cole Drops Iggy Azalea Line & More
The music portion is in full swing at SXSW, and we're bringing you daily recaps of the action from Austin. Here are some unforgettable moments from music's fifth day at the fest on Saturday (March 21).
12:00 p.m. -- Lyle Lovett, who was in Austin to take part of a SXSW panel about the late Texas-born music journalist Chet Flippo, was spotted busking on the street outside of ACL Live @ Moody Theatre, where he played by the statue of Willie Nelson at the building's entrance. -- Gary Graff
12:32 p.m. -- Clean Bandit didn't let SXSW's incessant rain bring down their cheerful house-pop-garage blend, playing in a lot outside Austin mainstay Waterloo Records. Especially when they were joined by Jess Glynne, the 25-year-old redhead whose soulful voice and songwriting helped give the British quartet its two biggest hits, "Real Love" and "Rather Be." The latter, a Billboard Top 20 hit that closed the set, was seemingly what the rain-soaked but dancing crowd was waiting for. -- Alex Gale
1:04 p.m. -- Unlike the act the followed, Clean Bandit, Twin Shadow (aka George Lewis Jr.) played a moody, stripped-down set outside Waterloo Records that was much more appropriate for the gloomy weather. Playing an acoustic guitar and backed by longtime keyboardist/songwriter Wynne Bennett's subtle synth swells, Lewis put the highlight on his raspy voice hitting big melodies, a refreshing alternate look at his new-wave synth-pop for a crowd that included Bill Murray. -- AG
2:15 p.m. -- Kali Uchis introduced herself at Fader Fort by blazing through songs from her recent EP, Por Vida. The Columbia-born singer-songwriter -- wearing an all soft, pale pink two-piece -- paced around the stage, gradually garnering the crowd's, up to a call-and-response for her song "Ridin' Round." She took concert-goers by surprise when she performed a live remix to a few verses off Selena's "Sí Una Vez." "I love you Selena," she softly said. -- Erika Ramirez
3:30 p.m. -- At an intimate private BBQ held at the Patch House Austin, Allan Kingdom performed a showcase that included selections from his 2014 release, Future Memoirs, to a crowd of influencers and industry folks. The close setting allowed for Kingdom to address the crowd face to face, share a little bit about who he was and where he came from in between songs. He capped it all off by playing a cut of "All Day," the brand new Kanye West track where he's a featured along with Theophilus London and Paul McCartney. -- William Gruger
5:15 p.m. -- It's raining... again (ugh).
5:25 p.m. -- Hudson Mohawke played an oddly short 25-minute set, perhaps because he started late, or perhaps in anticipation of his longer headlining gig at the Fader Fort three hours later across the street. When he is DJ'ing live, HudMo tends to stick to the hit-you-over-the-head EDM-trap sound he helped pioneer with Lunice as one half of TNGHT, which may indeed be better suited for big party rooms. But with that sound now ubiquitous -- especially at this year's SXSW -- it was hard not to miss the Glasgow producer's more musical power-soul instrumentals, which last year's "King Kong Beaver" proved he can still make expertly. He didn't play that, but he did include another welcome digression in his set: "All Day," the new Kanye West single he co-produced, an apt theme song for SXSW's nonstop grind. Meanwhile, Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress held court in the backstage VIP section. -- AG
6:00 p.m. -- More proof that pretty much anything goes at SXSW? How about a reimagining of The Who's Tommy as A Bluegrass Opry. That's what happened during the Folk Alliance day party at Threadgill's World Headquarters, which the HillBenders closed with their ambitiously and audaciously rendered version of Tommy in its entirety (save for the rock opera's "Underture") that was well worth standing in the rain to hear. Guitarist Jim Rae even tossed in a few semi-windmills during the performance, though there was a certain irony in a delivery of "Fiddle About" without a fiddle. The quintet encored with a version of The Who's "I Can See For Miles." Those who didn't catch it on Saturday will be able to hear it on May 10, when Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry is released by Compass Records. -- GG
6:03 p.m. -- Texas and next-door Louisiana have always joined a close musical relationship, and the crowd welcomed gritty-voiced Kevin Gates' triumphant, Jeezy-esque trap like an old friend at the Fader Fort. But after his recent, widely shared Instagram confessions -- one, that he was sleeping with his cousin, and two, that he asked a woman to give fellatio to his dog -- hearing him perform "Thinkin' With My Dick," complete with a lewd dance move, was a little off-putting. -- AG
6:45 p.m. -- Porter Robinson had a damn good SXSW. The day after his surprise victory over Sam Smith, Charli XCX, Run the Jewels, J. Cole and FKA Twigs for Woodie of the Year at the MTVU Woodie Awards, Robinson took on one of the ballyhooed "surprise guest" slots at the Fader Fort. His album Worlds was one of 2014's nice surprises, a turn away from big-room dubstep and house toward M83-influenced dance-pop that hinted at a moody, more melodic branch off the EDM evolutionary family tree. The line of people leaving Fader Fort after his bright set wrapped showed his crowd-pulling power -- although some of them may have been simply escaping the Fort's muddy, puddle-filled grounds. -- AG
7:37 p.m. -- "Who's f-----g with Empire?" Timbaland asked the Fader Fort crowd. "Didn't I bring black people back to TV? But I don't get the props." Tink was the announced name on the lineup, but at time it seemed like the Timbaland show. The producer came out first, had the DJ play some his undeniable classic hits, bigged up his catalog and his role providing music for Fox's hit show, and then finally introduced Tink. She won over the crowd, even if she had to give Timbaland a friendly rebuke for talking too much in between songs. He called her "my protege," and you can hear it: The promising MC-singer's vocal inflection and use of melody in her raps recalls Tim's right-hand woman Missy Elliott, though it's immediately clear that she's more nimble and sharp in terms of rapping in the traditional cipher-ready sense. Tink also displayed a strong singing voice, over a song that made Timbaland's legacy even more explicit, in an over-the-top way: The track sampled "One in a Million," one of his earliest and most influential collaborations with the late Aaliyah. "Normally I don't touch Baby Girl," Timbaland said. He explained that he made an exception because Aaliyah came to him in a dream and told him, "Tink is the one." It's a high bar to set, and a strange way to do it -- luckily, Tink has undeniable talent and huge potential. -- AG
9:10 p.m. -- The Fader Fort, a long-time SXSW highlight, has set a pretty high bar for surprise guests at SXSW -- Kanye West, Usher singing over Afghan Whigs. Rumors flew this year on who would close out the venue's four-day run: Kendrick Lamar? Drake? Bone Thugs-N-Harmony? Instead, the Fort closed with a long set from DJ-producer Hudson Mohawke, who brought along two friends and fellow Kanye West collaborators: Travi$ Scott, who played "Upper Echelon" and a few other dark trap anthems; and Twista, who breezed through his 2004 chipmunk-soul classic "Overnight Celebrity." When Mohawke dropped "All Day," the new Kanye single he co-produced, dozens, maybe hundreds of phones and camera rose above the crowd, in anticipation of Yeezy himself making what seemed like an imminent entrance. But no -- HudMo was playing the song, not the instrumental for West or anyone else to rap over. Ten minutes later, the crowd was filing out on their way to other shows, an anti-climactic ending to an otherwise very strong Fader Fort lineup. -- AG
9:15 p.m. -- Seinabo Sey dazzles the crowd at the Neon Gold showcase at Empire with not only her incredible talent, but also her sincerely and humility when addressing the crowd, which instantly fell in love with her. Hailing from a small town in Sweden (with no more than 60,000 people, she told the audience), the performance was her last of several from SXSW that was suitably capped with her breakout single "Younger." -- WG
9:45 p.m. -- Cathedrals, who just recently dropped its debut album on Neon Gold, performed its first-ever SXSW this year and impressed the weary crowd on its final day. Towards the end of the set, the audience got to join in singing happy birthday to a member of the band." -- WG
10:15 p.m. -- Alex Winston told the crowd she was feeling a little under the weather midway through her set, which included hits from her upcoming album. But literally nobody in the crowd was none the wiser until she said everything, because her voice soared over music that's sure to be a great release. -- WG
10:45 p.m. -- Second time seeing Marina and the Diamonds this week -- and it was totally worth it. She performed "Can't Pin Me Down" for the first time (off her new album, Froot), and just like last time, the crowd went absolutely nuts. -- WG
11:15 p.m. -- After Dreamville artists Omen, Cozz and Bas hyped the crowd with their individual buzz tracks, J. Cole took the stage at the Dreamville Takeover showcase, presented by New Era Cap. The rapper, looking comfortable in tapered sweats and a white T-shirt, performed a handful of tracks from his mixtapes (The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights) and to his three-album discography, including his latest 2014 Forest Hills Drive. When performing "Fire Squad," Cole remixed a line to fit the times, "Watch Iggy lose the Grammy while a n---a crack a smile," Cole rapped. "Just kidding." Cole had the packed Austin City Limits venue moving and singing along to deep cuts, notable singles ("Can't Get Enough," "Crooked Smile") and favorites from 2014 Forest Hills Drive ("G.O.M.D."). Expect to hear all of 2014 Forest Hills Drive when Cole embarks on his headlining tour: "I'm performing the whole f----n' album, from beginning to end." -- ER
11:30 p.m. -- Over the past several years at SXSW, traditionally a place where so-called "baby bands" break out, hip-hop A-listers -- Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rick Ross -- have dominated post-festival chatter with prominent performances. So it was refreshing to see a new, mostly unknown talent make waves: Tunji Ige, the 19-year-old Philly-bred rapper-producer who played at the Neon Gold showcase to a supportive crowd. Ige's immediately catchy single "Day2Day," a laidback Kid Cudi-influenced anthem featuring Ige's singsong flow and a dance coda, would be a hit with a real push behind it. His fresh-faced youthfulness and lack of pomp were immediately endearing: dressed in and T-shirt and sweatpants -- the regular, non-jogger-cut, non-chic ones -- Ige danced along to his own music as if the audience wasn't even there, and we happily followed his lead. -- A.G.
12:00 a.m. -- MS MR takes to the main stage at Empire as the headlining act at the Neon Gold showcase, playing a few new tracks, as well as hits from Secondhand Rapture, in what was their last of many SXSW Showcases. -- WG
12:15 a.m. -- While label mates MS MR were on the main stage, Years and Years brought his unique mix of electro-pop to the inside stage. The set which included a preview of the group's upcoming album, Communion, that had their entire crowd on its feet and dancing as the night drew to a close. -- WG
1:07 a.m. -- It's obvious that Big K.R.I.T. is one of the south's most beloved rappers. At his headlining SXSW show "The Only Show That Matters," every one in attendance knew every word to each song he performed, regardless of the era of his 10-year discography. Crowd favorites included songs from his most recent release, including "Cadillactica," "King of the South" and "My Sub Pt. 3." Before closing his set, K.R.I.T. brought out Devin the Dude to perform their collaborative tracks "Moon & Stars" and "Hydroplaning." -- ER