SXSW 2017 Day 2: Mick Fleetwood Insists Fleetwood Mac is 'Alive and Well,' Chainsmokers Bring the Party & More

Wednesday (March 15) at SXSW found things settling into a groove, as the chill left the Austin air and various east coast-based attendees – whose Monday or Tuesday flights were delayed by the snowstorm – arrived at the festival in various states of relief and exhaustion.
 
Below, Billboard's on-the-scene reporters share standout moments from Day 2 of the music portion of SXSW, from the dive bars to the industry panels.

2:34 p.m. During the Digital Revolution: A Look at Music's New Frontier panel (moderated by Billboard's own Mike Bruno) featuring Adam Alpert, Charles Attal, A$AP Ferg, Bridgit Mendler and Residente, Ferg made an interesting comparison when talking about free music via SoundCloud vs. albums you expect people to buy. In his example, if the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat rolls into a restaurant, doodles on a placemat and leaves, that's free art for the people; but if Basquiat embarks on a painting that requires hours of work and extensive painting supplies, that's the kind of thing a consumer should expect to pay for. Whether you agree or not, it's an interesting example to chew on. -- Joe Lynch

2:38 p.m. -- Residente received not one but two unsolicited rounds of applause during the aforementioned panel. The Puerto Rican iconoclast (who at one point declared, "As an artist, I don’t need to be a millionaire," a laudable sentiment most artists would never utter) received his first unsolicited round of applause by going after artists who pay for social follows and YouTube views. His second round of applause? After declaring, "We have a bad president." -- Joe Lynch 

3:11 p.m – The Lemon Twigs’ Brian D’Addario had a bit of news to share with its afternoon audience at Pandora’s compound in the Gatsby on Sixth Street. About a third of the way into the set he introduced a song from a forthcoming EP, designed as a stop-gap to fill the interim between last year’s Do Hollywood and the pompy Long Island quartet’s sophomore album, which D’Addario said the group plans to start recording during May. D’Addario also distinguished himself in the sartorial department, sporting an outfit -- red jacket, green-dominated plaid pants, an orange Beatles “Yellow Submarine” T-shirt and red suede Adidas sneakers -- that was as bright as the blinding sunshine drenching the crowd. -- Gary Graff 

3:38 p.m. -- Playing the massive daystage in the convention center's Ballroom D is a daunting proposition for young bands: thought it's been effective at breaking soon-to-be-stars like Alabama Shakes and Vampire Weekend when they were in their infancy, the room swallows sound whole, and attendance for anyone other than the festival's yearly super darlings is always sparse. So credit to Amber Bain, aka The Japanese House, for allowing her shimmery, electronic soundscapes to sing through and resonate expertly, rather than let the reverb eat her alive in the space during KCRW's annual daytime showcase. She's more in the getting-her-feet-wet category than the previous bands mentioned here, but it didn't stop her and her band from making dreamscapes come alive; in a club setting, it would be hypnotic. -- Jeff Miller

4:01 p.m. -- During the Jazz In the Digital Age panel (which featured former Billboard staffer Natalie Weiner), New Orleans-based trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah detailed a fascinating fear that faces jazz artists in the smartphone era: "A big fear is there's an environment where every time you play. someone has a camera. And [in jazz] you're taking chances and risks -- you don't necessarily know what it's going be minute to minute [and when someone films it and uploads to YouTube], the world owns it." Just another reason to 1) respect musicians who improvise and 2) put that phone away on occasion. -- Joe Lynch 

5:12 p.m. – Mick Fleetwood came clean about initial doubts regarding Fleetwood Mac guitarist and co-founder Peter Green during a public interview Wednesday at the Austin Convention Center. Recalling Green’s audition for a band then known as the Peter B’s (for keyboardist Peter Bardens), Fleetwood told interviewer David Fricke that, “One major mistake and confession of my life was after he played…I turned around to Peter Bardens and said, ‘He doesn’t play more than one or two notes,’ like an idiot,” Fleetwood said to general laughter. “And thank God Peter Bardens said, much to his credit, ‘No, no no, you’re not hearing the tone. You’re not hearing the vibrato, and less is more.’ And of course (Green) soon put me right and… later to be known as one of the most magnificent feel, tonal guitar players certainly the world and revered by many of his peers, and certainly my favorite guitar player. I’m a huge onward-going fan of the ambience of Peter Green. There most certainly wouldn’t be a Fleetwood Mac without this wonderful person and musician.” Fleetwood writes extensively about those days in a new book Love That Burns: The Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac Volume One, 1967-1974 which will be published during September in limited edition by Genesis Publications in Britain. As with Billboard the day before Fleetwood declined to comment about the reported Classic East and West festivals with Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and others, but he repeated his contention that Fleetwood Mac is “alive and well” and spoke glowingly about the upcoming release by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, on which he and bassist John McVie played. -- Gary Graff

6:10 p.m. -- Even before he took the stage in Austin, Atlanta's Playboi Carti was in an enviable position. The Atlanta rapper hasn't even released a debut mixtape, but his online buzz helped him score a slot at the venerable Fader Fort at SXSW. Carti's good luck streak continued Wednesday afternoon with a surprise appearance during his set from none other than A$AP Rocky, who joined him for a few songs and declared, "You at Fader Fort -- you made it." -- Joe Lynch  

6:20 p.m. -- MS MR's Lizzy Plapinger and Louisville rapper Jack Harlow mingled with radio and streaming programmers from around the country at promotion firm C3's SXSW welcome event at Stubb's. Representatives from Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and several artist managers also joined the party, hanging out and eating BBQ while sound checks for NPR's evening showcase echoed in the background outside. -- Gary Graff

7:30 p.m. -- On any given night during the music segment of SXSW, there are a thousand-plus artists playing at hundreds of venues across this sprawling city, so it’s rare to find a showcase so strong that you can just plunk down there for the night. But that was the case on Wednesday -- it is Wednesday, right? -- and NPR’s bash at Stubbs, which featured (in order) PWR BTTM, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Sylvan Esso, Lizzo, Big Thief and the New Pornographers. 

PWR BTTM are a New York-based “queer punk” quartet based around garishly glitter-encrusted singer/guitarist Ben Hopkins and drummer/singer Liv Bruce (who switch instruments for a few songs), with hilarious songs like “Answer My Text,” “Sissy,” “Oh, Boy” and “New Trick.” While their act might be more run of the mill in an EDM or disco setting, they’re a hard rock band with tight, three-minute songs, shredding guitar and some of the funniest between-song banter we’ve ever heard: For example, when Hurray for the Riff Raff singer Alynda Segarra, clad in a beret and dark-colored poet-style jacket, joined them for a song Hopkins said, “Let’s hear it for the outfit! You look like Patti Smith if she had an Etsy store.” While you don’t quite get the full effect on their records, their show is nearly irresistible and this crowd adored them. -- Jem Aswad

7:30 p.m. -- Lil Yachty kicked off his uber turnt SXSW set by spraying the crowd with ice water before playing -- yes, you guessed it -- "Ice Water." The deluge didn't stop there, though, with his crew splashing Dasani over fans for the entire set like priests at a christening. The crowd returned the favor, but it wasn't 100 percent appreciated. "The next person who throws a beer at me is getting their ass beat for real," Yachty told the crowd with a jovial smile at one point. "I don't even drink beer!" -- Joe Lynch 

8:03 p.m. – Bassist Shane Nixon’s broken strap knob made for some on-stage acrobatics but did not dampen Detroit group Flint Eastwood’s charged set opening the night’s offerings in the Mazda Studio at Empire Control Room. Anyone who’s seen the group before was in for a bit of a shock; though singer Jax Anderson’s hip Amish couture remains the same, the sound has shifted from the hard rock and ethereal wash of previous releases into an urgent kind of grooving, urban pop -- to good effect -- showcased on her upcoming EP and first release with Neon Gold Records. Anderson had the crowd inside the venue’s Control Room jamming hard to new material such as “Queen,” “Monster,” “Push” and “Rewind,” and she wasn’t above a bit of coercion when necessary. “I come from Detroit,” she said while beckoning the audience into action. “We got the guns in Detroit.” -- Gary Graff 

8:20 p.m. -- While a metal band raged in the next room, genre-blurring singer-songwriter Gabriel Garzon-Montana treated Elysium to an evening set that struck a perfect balance between vibe-y chill-out music and grooving alt-soul. If you needed mentally arresting music that let your body relax for a minute before embarking on a late-night SXSW sojourn, this was the place to be.  -- Joe Lynch 
 
8:30 p.m. -- Next up were Hurray for the Riff Raff, who delivered a 45-minute set that leaned heavily on their acclaimed new concept LP The Navigator, inspired by Bronx-born, Puerto Rican Segerra’s journey into the Downtown New York punk scene and her search for her own identity. Concept albums are a challenge in a live setting and this one was no exception, but the tightness of the new band’s lineup (which is now 3/5 female) and the strength of the songwriting and Segerra’s commanding voice made it an easier ride than most. -- Jem Aswad
 
9:30 p.m. -- Likewise, Sylvan Esso challenged the audience with a set that overwhelmingly featured songs from their sophomore album What Now? -- which won’t be out for a month; however, the new songs are more direct, hard-hitting and (not least) danceable than the bedroom-demo vibe of their 2014 self-titled debut. It’s extremely rare for an artist to open with five unreleased songs (and play just three familiar ones in a 45-minute set) and have the crowd totally grooving to them, and then go bonkers for the three songs the duo played from their debut. The pair finished off the set with the pulsating “Radio” (a radio song about radio songs, naturally enough) and left the crowd in almost post-coital ecstasy. -- Jem Aswad

9:38 p.m. -- When someone says "do you want to go to an intimate 10-course meal from some of the best chefs in the country at Willie Nelson's ranch?" you don't say no, right? Right. Which is how we found ourselves feasting on dishes like porchetta with chicharon-crispy skin with blackened, grilled cabbage from L.A.'s Bruce Kalman and local favorite (and James Beard award-nominee) Bryce Gilmore, and a multi-textured array of expertly cooked vegetables from Second Bar & Kitchen's David Bull (the chefs were organized by Salt & Time's Ben Runkle, who deserves a standing ovation as much as any of the bands we've seen so far this week.) Post-dinner, the crowd of 200 or so moved into a tiny tent on campus for an intimate, amazing performance from Nelson himself, who guitar-jammed his way through "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and a medley of "It's All Going to Pot" and "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," a thematic duo that made his bandmates giggle. He's definitely still smoking the good stuff: the 84 year old's dexterous fingerwork shined through, and as we walked back to the car to make the hour-or-so-drive back to Austin proper, we stopped to take in the stars in the big Texas sky -- and take a photo of the enormous sign proclaiming the name of Willie's ranch: Luck. That's what we found ourselves with tonight, for sure. -- Jeff Miller

10:14 p.m. – “The best bit about this band is, as the singer, you only have to do two songs,” Travis’ Fran Healey cracked early in the first-ever performance by BNQT (pronounced “Banquet”), the new “supergroup” that also featured Granddaddy’s Jason Lytle and the members of Midlake. Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, who are on BNQT’s April 28 debut album, though couldn’t make the show, but the remaining seven piece ensemble capably displayed the group’s rich, lush and harmony-drenched pop songs -- in other words, sounding far more together than a band playing its first gig -- during the TuneIn Presents the Bella Union 20th Anniversary Party at Easy Tiger. Each of the lead singers also tossed in gem from the past – Midlake’s “Roscoe,” Travis’ “Why Does It Always Rain,” Grandaddy’s “AM 180” – but in truth the crowd, which included Hanson brothers Isaac and Zack, would have been just as happy with more of the new material. -- Gary Graff 

10:45 p.m. -- It was a tough act to follow, but Minneapolis singer-rapper Lizzo was up to the challenge. After her set kicked off bafflingly with her DJ playing Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” in its entirety (Twin Cities hometown pride, we guess?), Lizzo quickly launched into a soulful, driving set that found her exhorting the audience to dance multiple times in each song, usually irresistibly: “Okay, I got about 75 percent of you dancing, but I want 175 percent of you dancing, from this girl with the bangs right in front to the lady in the white dress all the way in the back” (and of course the lady in the white dress went crazy). -- Jem Aswad

11:30 p.m. -- The mood changed fairly dramatically for Big Thief, a Brooklyn indie quartet (and Pitchfork fave) based around the songs and singing of Adrianne Lenker. Her high, quavery voice is balanced by the band’s brawny bottom end, and they’re reminiscent of Cat Power in the way the group watches her like a hawk, as if slightly uncertain of what she might do next; at a couple of points she did seem to be improvising. The pacing of the set was a little uneven but the band delivered, particularly on “Masterpiece,” the title (and best) track from their 2016 debut. -- Jem Aswad

The New Pornographers were up next and although they’re a great live act with stellar songs and singers, by this point we’d been at Stubb’s for more than four hours and the temperature at the outdoor venue had gone from balmy to chilly to “no joke I’m fucking cold,” so we retreated to the hotel to write about the night’s doings. -- Jem Aswad

12:08 a.m. -- Hands down, Solange's YouTube set on Wednesday was the best SXSW show I've seen so far in 2017. Her backing band was gentle when necessary yet punchy and funky when called for (not to mention impeccably dressed). But obviously, Solange is the star of a Solange show, and her flawless vocals and idiosyncratic dance moves (closer to modern dance than club moves) made her set utterly transfixing. While A Seat at the Table highlights killed the audience, longtime fans lost it toward the end of her set when she busted out "T.O.N.Y.," the nearly decade-old highlight from her Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams album. "It feels so beautiful to have different eras and pockets of my life [highlighted in this show]," she told the crowd. "I'm so grateful so many of you guys have come for the journey, and so humble you saw the light in me before anybody else did." -- Joe Lynch

12.17 a.m. – “Who came to South By Southwest for the music?” the Chainsmokers Drew Taggart asked the Apple Music crowd at the old La Zona Rosa shortly Thursday after dawn in Austin. “How many came to get drunk? I came to do both.” Taggart and partner Alex Pall, setting up for the April 7 release of their first full-length album, Memories…Do Not Open, certainly brought the party with an exuberant and playful, if somewhat rote, nearly hour-long DJ set that had plenty of flash from the LED screens encasing the duo and frequently deployed smoke jets, as well as an arena-sized confetti storm at the end of the set. The Chainsmokers, who will be headlining a Sony Music show on Thursday night, built the set on its already formidable host of hits, including “Inside Out,” “All We Know,” “Let You Go,” “Kanye,” the Halsey-featuring “Closer” and the Coldplay-assisted “Something Just Like This.” Taggart and Pall also nodded to their roster of remixes and created some new ones -- mostly for for rock songs like Kiss “Rock and Roll All Nite,” blink-182’s “What’s My Name Again?,” Coldplay’s “Yellow” and more -- as well as straight-out dubstep jamming on their decks. The Chainsmokers left the Apple crowd with a slide reading “Remember me always,” and as the group heads out to tour arenas this spring this club show won’t soon be forgotten by those who saw it. -- Gary Graff

1:17 a.m. -- Unlike many of his indie-pop contemporaries, Austria's SOHN has decided to tour with a full band -- and his stage show at Elysium was all the better for it, with a co-ed duo of drummers and a multi-instrumentalist backing him and towing the line between minimalism and aural assault. Recent single "Signal" was appropriately dark and mysterious, the singer's double-tracked vocals busting through confidently and with purpose. -- Jeff Miller

1:24 a.m. -- Sad13 -- the solo alter ego of Speedy Ortiz frontperson Sadie Dupuis -- might be lo-fi bedroom pop on wax, but she stretches out her fuzz rock muscles to satisfying effect in concert. Her set at Sidewinder (delivered while the original Planet of the Apes movie played on venue's TV – dive bars FTW), was a perfect way to wrap the day, especially when rapper Sammus joined Sad13 onstage to perform their collab "Coming Into Powers" and celebrate their one-year friend anniversary with dancing and hugs. -- Joe Lynch

1:51 a.m. -- With her uncompromising attacks on systemic inequities paired with some of the most heart-stopping punk bellows in years, singer Victoria Ruiz usually takes the spotlight at any given Downtown Boys concert. But on Wednesday, drummer Norlan Olivo made the biggest impression during the political punk outfit's invigorating late night set. He ended their set perched atop one of his drums, punching it to hell while the crowd hoisted the drum and Olivo far above their heads. After that, with an impish wink, he grabbed the mic: "I know I look scary and so aggressive and brown, but I promise I'm not, talk to me after the gig." -- Joe Lynch