Women in Music 2019

Rae Sremmurd Supports Bernie Sanders, Loretta Lynn Charms & More at SXSW Day 3

 Rick Kern/Getty Images for Bud Light
Rae Sremmurd take the stage at the Bud Light Factory during the Interscope Showcase on March 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas. 

The weather may have changed for the cloudier, but by mid-afternoon on March 17, SXSW was back at its sweltering best, with showcases and sets running deep into the night. As the festival churned through its third day, Billboard has the report from the ground.

1:32 p.m. -- Every year at SXSW there's one artist on everyone's lips -- an act whose experience in Austin either means they're going to live up to the hype or die trying. This year's No. 1 seed is Anderson .Paak, and the California singer/rapper more than lived up to the hype at the Spotify House, playing an early afternoon set in the drizzle that absolutely floored attendees. Paak has flow, vocals, magnetism and instrumental skills; watching him play drums and spit rhymes at the same time is dizzying. "This is probably my favorite show [of the week], you know what I'm saying," Paak asked the crowd halfway through, before teasing David Bowie's "Let's Dance." Yes, Paak, we do. It's ours, too. -- Jeff Miller

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2:40 p.m. -- The sun was finally out and it was sweltering in The Belmont when John Legend took the stage for a solo set at the Collective + Crew event co-sponsored, appropriately enough, by deodorant-maker Axe. Greeted by a swooning, packed house, Legend -- who first played at SXSW as a new Columbia Records artist in 2005 -- played a sing-along-heavy four-song set that included Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” (which Legend guests on), “Green Light,” “Ordinary People” and “All of Me.” It was sweet but short: Legend was really there to promote the five winners of Axe's Collective series, whom he hand-picked and has mentored. “It’s fun,” Legend told Billboard earlier in the day. “I love discovering new talent, give them advise about what I know. I know what it’s like to be a new artist.” Besides helping the newbies, Legend has some new arrivals of his own on the way. He plans to wrap work during the spring on his next album, which he hopes to release in September. He described it as “really cool, really soulful, a really special album” -- and personal, because of another new arrival, a daughter, that Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen are expecting in April. -- Gary Graff

2:46 p.m. -- Spirit Animal's Steve Cooper is a South By lifer: he spent years on the circuit as the pickup rapper Grey Kid, and his recent turn as the rock-oriented Spirit Animal has had him in years past popping up in hotel bars and parking-lot dives. But Cooper's songs have finally graduated to radio-friendly status without compromising his draw as a performer: you could practically see his vocal cords popping out of his neck during this short set at the StubHub house at Banger's, on a massive stage befitting music that sounds this large. Cooper's new Spirit Animal material's rhythmically full and instrumentally intense; now that he's clearly found his groove, here's hoping his South By hustle pays off with a massive audience finding it, too. -- JM

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3:15 p.m.  -- Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon got to warm up for his evening show at Auditorium Shores -- and practice his stand-up routine -- with a five-song solo acoustic set at Island Records’ Island Life day party at the Old School Bar & Grill on Sixth Street. “Thank you very much for coming -- that’s it,” Fallon said after strumming his guitar and mic-checking his harmonica. “That was amazing, right? Best thing you’ve seen all week! Get a couple of drinks and it’ll sound better.” He told the invitation-only crowd that it was his first time at SXSW since 2009, and that “this one is a little less stressful, which is good; At my old age my knees get rickety.” He also talked about the rigors of getting around Austin and essayed on the proper way to make a Cadillac Margarita (first rule -- no mixes). Fallon also played stark versions of songs from his new solo album “Painkillers,” including the title track, “A Wonderful Live,” “Nobody Wins” and “Smoke,” as well as Gaslight Anthem’s “National Anthem.” The two shows were Fallon’s only scheduled performances at SXSW.  -- GG

7:02 p.m. -- Even though the sound was already shaking the stage, Rae Sremmurd kept asking for things to get even louder before launching into "Start a Party" at the Fader Fort, with fellow ATLien K Camp spotted outside. "We gonna do some new shit now" they told the crowd after running through "No Flex Zone" and "Shining on My Ex." The new song is the type of anthemic chant they've consistently excelled at during their short career -- they've practically patented it at this point. "It's 2016, we gotta make sure we vote and shit," Jxmmi said. "Just make sure you don't vote for Donald trump!" Then, ironically, they shifted into a truncated version of "Up Like Trump." "Fuck Donald Trump, we voting for Bernie Sanders!" he said to huge cheers for the crowd. "Because we want to smoke weed!" Hip-hop's favorite party boys turn every situation into a celebration. -- Dan Rys

8:05 p.m. -- Fronting her impeccably-dressed band, Kacey Musgraves ran through a delightfully laid back cover of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and an electric version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" complete with harmonica solo from the singer herself at her headlining performance at the Fader Fort (she's the first-ever country artist to have the honor). "Thank you so much for coming out tonight for some country music," she said towards the beginning of her set. "I'm kind of drunk, but whatever!" -- DR

8:37 p.m.: "You can holler out what you want to hear," 83-year-old Loretta Lynn told an audience packed with people exponentially younger than her at Stubb's; of course, the country legend then did, well, whatever she damn pleased. That included classic cuts like "Coal Miner's Daughter" as well as new songs from this year's Full Circle. Her voice still rises angelically above the licks provided by her crack band, whom she joked with (or was she joking??) when they messed up the beginning of a song. "Ya'll listen to me," she told them, "or you're gonna be playing with somebody else next week." Damn. You go, girl. -- JM

10:29 p.m. -- A charming Texas music moment took place during the latter part of Colin Gimore’s set at the Victorian Room in the Driskill Hotel. He introduced “Blue Shadows,” a song his father Jimmie Dale Gilmore co-wrote with Hal Ketchum, as a song his dad “never does any more. So I’m gonna do it ‘til he steals it back.” The younger Gilmore and his band were joined by Ricardo Ochoa, fiddler for Savannah, Ga.’s Velvet Caravan, which played before Gilmore on Thursday.  -- GG

10:43 p.m.: Wine glasses clinked at the Hotel Van Zandt's restaurant Geraldine, a fancy chef-driven spot abetting a pool in the trendy hotel while the five-piece Americana jammers Tahoma played. In one of those serendipitous only-in-Austin moments, unbeknownst to the band, they were playing for high-powered managers and music-placement experts -- the same sorts that anyone playing more traditional showcases hope show up. And any of those biz people would have an easy job with Tahoma as clients: one night after Ryan Adams played the festival, they inhabited similar spaces, with fluid Grateful Dead jams, thoughtful, meandering songs, and killer harmonies. -- JM

11:26 p.m. -- Tory Lanez took a leaf out of Method Man's book and walked on top of the crowd's hands as he performed at the Interscope showcase at the Bud Light Factory. Taking center stage duties and acting as is his own hype man, he let his backing tracks ride as he kept the crowd engaged. When he lets loose, his voice is fantastic, which he displayed in covering "Jump On It" during a "classic" interlude and proved that he's versatile as hell between singing and rapping. "That one was for all your favorite singers who need Auto-Tune," he said after his hit "Say It." "I don't need that!" -- DR

1:00 a.m. -- Canada’s Magic! was a few lines into the first verse of  a slow-rolling, reggae flavored version of “I Wanna Be Sedated” at the Grammy Museum’s 40 Years of Ramones Tribute concert at Maggie Mae’s rooftop when frontman Nasri Atweh stopped the song -- as planned -- declaring “This doesn’t feel right.” The quartet then shifted into a floor-shaking traditional version of the song, during which Nasri hopped into the crowd an started a circle pit in front of the stage. Magic! was one of 18 acts who took part in the event, which promoted a new Ramones exhibit opening April 10 at the Queens Museum and Sept. 16 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. Magic! also performed “Blitzkreig Bop” and debuted a brand new song, “Gloria,” that’s slated for the group’s sophomore album this summer. “We’re having so much fun here this week, just playing new songs and really enjoying the shows,” Nasri told Billboard about the group’s multi-show SXSW schedule. -- GG

1:26 a.m. -- The Kills' Alison Mosshart is one of the greatest frontpeople in music, which she proved once again at the StubHub house, blasting through a set with confident abandon and fluid rock-god moves. Her ultra-thin, ultra-loose style's clearly inspired by Iggy Pop, so it's no surprise that members of Pop's current band (including Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen) were in attendance as the fivesome banged their way through songs from their upcoming album Ash And Ice as well as their back catalog, never letting up the intensity until the band's final bow. -- JM


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