SXSW 2015 Day 3: Miley Surprises, The Weeknd Gets Dirty, Action Bronson Serves Poutine & More

Roger Kisby/Getty Images
Miley Cyrus and Mike Will perform onstage at The Fader Fort Presented by Converse during SXSW on March 19, 2015 in Austin, Tx.

With the music portion in full swing at SXSW, we're bringing you daily recaps of the action from Austin. Here are some unforgettable moments from music's third day at the fest.

SXSW 2015: Check Out Our Full Coverage 

11:00AM -- Wes Orshoski, director of The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, was pleased none of the members of the legendary punk band made it to the second screening of his film. At the premiere on March 18, Damned guitarist Captain Sensible chose "to interrupt parts he didn't like," Orshoski says, and would shout during the screening, especially whenever original drummer Rat Scabies was talking. The Damned were the first punk band to record and Orshoski noted he made the film in a punk rock style: "one director, one camera, one credit card." -- Phil Gallo 

12:18PM -- Natalie Prass slow dances with a small toy onstage at the Hype Hotel stage. "This is my friend Godzilla," she says, to the front row, which consisted almost exclusively of men, each of whom look to be falling hopelessly in love. It's hard to blame them: strange stage props aside, Prass' set was a perfect demonstration of the reason her self-titled debut album has been lauded by critics as one of 2015's best records so far -- a welcoming, warm-hug of a voice and refined writing that brings to mind classic pop and 1970s singer-songwriters. The album's ostentatious arrangements were stripped down to just guitars, bass and drums, but that only served as a reminder of Pratt's country-rock, Nashville roots. And the front row fan boys didn't seem to mind one bit. -- Alex Gale

1:15PM -- At an intimate brunch thrown by Island Records at Iron Cactus -- a SXSW mainstay on the main 6th Street drag -- Mike Posner came out of hiding. The singer-songwriter-producer was formerly known for upbeat songs that mixed with soul with dance over synth-heavy arrangements, including 2010 Hot 100 smash "Cooler Than Me." After struggling with depression, Posner retreated from the spotlight and wrote hits for other artists, including Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" and Maroon 5's "Sugar." The SXSW brunch was a reintroduction of sorts -- Posner's hair is longer, he looks a bit heavier, and most importantly, his music was totally different. The three songs he sang while playing piano and then acoustic guitar for the small crowd -- Island president David Massey, journalists, Kiesza producer Rami Samir Afuni -- were stripped-down, sensitive pop ballads influenced by Billy Joel. The standout track, a soulful piano song, featured the refrain, "I'll be buried in Detroit," his hometown. -- AG

2:03PM -- Kehlani held her own at Trillectro's Vibes showcase, which featured an all male rap lineup except for her. The R&B singer swooned the men and empowered the women simultaneously when performing songs from her recent mixtape, Cloud 19. From low-key female empowerment anthems to her hit, "FWU" which is a response to Chris Brown's "Loyal," proving there are women who are. Before closing her set with "FWU," she previewed a new song from her upcoming album You Should Be Here, out April. -- Erika Ramirez

3:15PM -- Courtney Barnett took the stage at Ironwood Hall just off Red River to play through the entirety of her latest album, A Double EP: A Sea Split of Peas, for an intimate crowd as a part of Tumblr IRL, a four day experience where each headlining artist turns the venue into an art exhibit in their own image. Barnett paired up with Matthias Brown, a known Tumblr animator that goes by Traceloops, to create "a complementary collection of collaborate chair caricatures" which adorned the walls of the venue throughout the day.

3:30PM -- Americana group Buxton's frontman Sergio Trevino expressed some concern during his label New West Records' afternoon party at Threadgills. "I was getting really nervous when I saw what Nikki was wearing," Trevino said, referring to a lacey outfit Nikki James sported onstage during the set just before Buxton. "I was like, 'Omigod, she's wearing what I'm wearing!' I had to run and change in the van. Luckily, crisis averted." Even James was laughing. -- Gary Graff

3:48PM -- It didn't take long for Seinabo Sey to win over the gradually growing crowd at the Fader Fort. By her second of her set, "River," the Swedish singer had everyone entranced with her vocal prowess. She closed her 20-minute set with her hit, "Younger," which provoked concertgoers to sway back and forth as she belted to a close. -- ER

4:02PM -- Action Bronson pulled up in a double decker bus to SouthBites Trailer Park, where several food trucks were serving up Austin's best street food. Celebrating his new album Mr. Wonderful, out March 24, Bronson made his way to the MMMpanadas food track, where a hundred or so fans were waiting, and began serving up bowls of brisket poutine, with a blunt in his mouth. -- AG

4:47PM -- The week before attending last year's SXSW, Alan Wilkis left his full-time gig as creative director at Spirit Music Group to pursue a developing career as a musician. Just one year later, Wilkis' side project Big Data has taken off, with a mid-day set at the Spotify House proving that his catchy blend of funk, indie pop and technology paranoia has quickly found an audience (his debut album 2.0 arrives Monday via Warner Bros.) -- Andrew Hampp

5:05PM -- The last time Lilly Hiatt played at a New West Records day party it was with her father, John. This time she was there on her own, sporting a red dress and rocking through material from her new album Royal Blue, including "Too Bad," "Birthday," "Far Away," the twangy "Machine" and "Jesus Wouldn't Let Me Pick the Restaurant," certainly in the running for best song title at all of SXSW. -- GG

5:15PM -- If you didn't know who Skepta was before walking into the Fader Fort yesterday, you did once you left. The Grimes rapper had the best stage presence of the day -- even when compared to Mike Will Made-It and his VIP friends who closed the Fort. Skepta captivated the audience with songs as "Shut Down" and "That's Not Me," and closed his set alongside the A$AP Mob for "It Ain't Safe." -- ER

5:35PM -- You'll never know which new gadget Robert Delong will have with him each time you see him perform. His set at the YouTube space on Thursday featured a joystick -- giving the impression that he was quite literally flying through each song.

5:55PM -- As Texas swing colleague Robert Earl Keen swung in to his set at the Recording Academy's annual Grammy Block Party, Asleep At the Wheel's Ray Benson held forth on the back lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel, sharing the satisfaction of his band's lengthy and successful set on Tuesday. "Fun is the only way I know how to do South By Southwest," Benson told Billboard. "What would be the point if it wasn't?" Benson is getting ready to publish a memoir Comin' Right At Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Went Country, or, The Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel, which was co-written with North Carolina author and journalist David Menconi and is due out in October. Also spotted at the Block Party was Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, in town showing his Jaco documentary about the late bassist Jaco Pastorious." "It's coming together, finally, after five years of hard work," said Trujillo, adding that the film has been accepted at upcoming festivals in Asbury Park and Buenos Aires, while a companion soundtrack album is still being planned for when Jaco gets wide distribution. Pushing Jaco isn't Trujillo's only work this week, however. He was in Austin on Tuesday, flew back to San Francisco to work on new material with Metallica on Wednesday and returned to Texas on Thursday. "We'll be going in to record for real soon," Trujillo said of making Metalica's follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic. -- GG

7:00PM -- Nate Mendel has gone from playing stadiums with Foo Fighters to opening showcases and packing up his own gear with his new solo project, Lieutenant. During the second of two shows at SXSW, at ACL Live @ Moody Theatre, Mendel and his touring ensemble was definitely still a group-in-the-making, the musicians' concentration evident as they worked through material from Lieutenant's debut If I Kill This Thing We'll Eat For a Week. At one point Mendel noted he was going to "ditch" a vocal effect he felt "sounds like chipmunks." He also introduced the "Lift the Sheet" by telling the crowd that, "It's not a bad song. We struggle with playing it, though. I'm gonna be honest with your. I have a good feeling about it tonight, though." He has some time to work things out, of course; the group will be on the road for 14 more shows until April 8 in West Hollywood. -- GG

7:11PM -- As Jack Antonoff's Bleachers wrapped up onstage, the backstage VIP area at the Fader Fort started to fill up in anticipation of Mike Will's guest-loaded headline set. G-Eazy, Dej Loaf, ASTR and A-Trak are among the artists sticking around to check out Miley Cyrus' rumored performance (the presence of her new publicist at ID and several execs from her label RCA seem to further verify her arrival.) -- AH

7:58PM -- It's Miley time! "Miley fucking Cyrus is on the stage, make some noise!" Mike Will tells the crowd as Miley rips into her hook from "23" (Converse need not worry about "J's on my feet" -- the brand's parent company is Nike.) As smokes of all sorts start billowing, Miley segues into 2013 party anthem "We Can't Stop" and takes in the atmosphere: "It smells good up here." -- AH

Watch Miley Perform With Mike Will Made-It at SXSW

9:33PM -- Welsh singer Marina Lambrini Diamandis, better known by her stage name Marina & the Diamonds, closed an infectious set at the YouTube showcase with new single "Froot," from her album of the same name. Her dark hair, pixie face and mix of immediately catchy hooks and big electro-pop recalls Charli XCX -- and judging by the crowd's increasing ecstatic dancing, it wouldn't be surprising if she sees similar levels of adoration. -- AG

10:15PM -- "Can I make you cum three times?" The Weeknd was in full control, bringing some serious sexy in between songs at his set at the YouTube showcase. It was hard to see him -- the lighting was dark blue and the stage was full of smoke -- but that ended up emphasizing just how perfectly he was hitting his muscular falsetto high notes on "Crew Love," a cover of Beyonce's "Drunk In Love" and "Earned It (50 Shades of Grey)." After he sold out arenas on tour last year, it was great seeing pillow-talk alt-R&B in a smaller room. "I haven't performed in a venue like this in a long time," he said. -- AG

10:40PM -- Incubus skied in to SXSW for a quick appearance at Island Records' Island Life night showcase at the Belmont. The group, reactivated after a short hiatus, is getting read for the March 24 release of its new EP Trust Fall (Side A), playing the title track as well as "Absolution Calling" amidst favorites such as "Wish You Were Her," Ann-Molly," "Nicke To Know You" and "Pardon Me." Brandon Boyd has his shirt off about two-thirds of the way through the set, which certainly pleased some in the packed crowd as well as those listening from a parking structure across the street. Incubus fused a bit of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" into "Megalomaniac" an closed the 65-minute set with a snippet of the Beatles' "She's So Heavy." -- John Mogos

12:15AM -- Alex Ebert leads the latest edition of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros through a collection of new songs that are targeted for a September release on their fourth album, which does not yet have a name. None of the songs had been performed prior to the show at the Central Presbyterian Church. The first edition of the Magnetic Zeros without any female singers, the group's new material was heavy on piano and organ pairings, the sound of a solo trumpet and echoes of the Tom Waits-ian balladry, gospel, summery soul music and the Beatles; the opening tune played off "Here Comes the Sun's" innocence wile another glided from lullaby to carnival atmosphere. -- PG

1:05AM -- A$AP Rocky ran out onstage at the Samsung Mil Music Lounge to join A$AP Mob crewmates Twelvy and Nast and rock the new single "Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2." "I didn't come all the way over here to give you a commercial with no Samsung," he said. "I'm high as fuck right now. I'm drunk as fuck right now. And I just don't give a fuck right now." Rocky went on to shout out fallen mentor/friend ASAP Yams and run through a high-energy set of hits. His Mob consigliere ASAP Ferg eventually joined him, running through "Work" and "Shabba" while smoke jets and confetti blasted from the stage. -- AG

2:12AM -- Chance The Rapper takes the stage at The Illmore (located in a darkly lit parking lot just off I-35, two miles away from downtown) to host an hour of spontaneous collabs and partying, from Fetty Wap to Dej Loaf to Mick Jenkins, each of whom come out to rap over one or two tracks before another one jumps in. Though it's spilling way into the wee hours of the morning, the crowd is far from dead. -- AH


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.