SXSW Report

Live Reviews from Austin's annual music fest

Sharon Jones
Dap Kings are crate-digger favorites—people love people who can not only discern good music but make a little of their own on the side too—and they deliver with obvious discipline a set less influenced than inhabited by the spirit of James Brown Productions. The original Dapps were an extremely formidable Brawnfunk instrumental combo, and new New York Dap Kings keep the dream pristine with hard and bony super-heavy funk fronted by the wild-eyed Sharon Jones, who cut 45s back when 45s were customarily cut and then burst back out of collectible history like a missile from a Midwest silo. The Sharon-less intro played a little funny—funk fans are viciously fickle; like Mr. Brown, they demand precision—with some funny playing on a wah pedal, but after much fanfare (courtesy the built-in horn section, reclaiming the concept of fanfare from people who know it only as a word in a press release) came Miss Jones and her 50,000 watts of power. Marva Whitney/Vicki Anderson/Lyn Collins: girls who sang high and tight and snapped their band around like a string of bubble gum. "This is just like 1966! Or 1967?" burped some pudge behind my ear. He'd just wandered in to see Neko Case (on next), but he did have a point (or a lucky guess).


LD and Ariano
Huntington producer LD's break-in was a notable showing on the LMNO P's and Q's full-length (and it sounds like him on the LMNO SXSW mixtape too), but live he glides through massive turntable calisthenics with a manic sense of dynamic: beats to pull bricks out of the walls, beats to make bad dudes go bald. MCs Ariano and FCNAMEFC rode this monster hands-free, slipping back and forth to knock knuckles with a crowd suddenly on their heels and going berserk. Alpha Pup's Daddy Kev had been making a laptop look pretty good the night before, but LD had his pile of cords and cable singing in choir: gotta be the best hip-hop out of OC so far. "Fuck a major label!" shouts Ariano, and outside in the street, 120 funky heart attacks. Key Kool looked real proud.

Lavender Diamond. Photo by Tenaya Hills
Lavender Diamond. Photo by Tenaya Hills

Pink Mountaintops
The Band as Wire—loose and druggy one-note jams done by a touring unit that adds members every time it stops by someone's porch for a quick beer (currently registering two drums, three guitars, four tambourines, five beards, six Theremins, seven humming Fender amps and too many congas to count). Main mountain man Stephen McBean is Canada's most casual/natural songwriter, but it's still weird to watch the differences that shake out between the Pinks and his other band Black Mountain, considering there's maybe 200 lbs. difference in the musicians and he comes up with all their songs. If Black Mountain dips through the complete history of psychedelia—Can, Black Sabbath, Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane—with precise and sticky fingers, Pink Mountaintops just slaps a palm on the counter and says, "Gimme something . . . heavy." The only person who gets more out of one sustained note is Glenn Branca: Bean and buddies just start pecking at an E string and come to 20 minutes later with a pack of strangers smiling down on them. Not as "good" as Black Mountain—they're missing the person who goes, "Okay, let's change this one up a little . . ."—but I was thinking about running away with them anyway.

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