Since its inception in 2011, the online magazine Rookie, founded by then 15-year-old fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, has become a strong voice for teenage girls. Gevinson's goal was to create a magazine that was the millennial equivalent of Sassy, a place where girls and women (and boys and men) can talk about fashion, art and music; get advice on love, self-image and school; and feel a sense of community with other like-minded people.
Rookie's SXSW day party took place Wednesday in the back lot of Urban Outfitters, which is sort of the perfect venue for it. There were many teenage girls wearing Doc Martens and floral dresses, a throwback to the '90s-era fashion of Sassy. There were many hip parents there with their equally hip kids.
During Icky Blossoms' set, I overheard one girl who was no older than 10 tell her dad the band needed “more synth in the monitor.” (To be fair, they did need more synth in the monitor.) There was a craft table set up in the back of the tent, so attendees could make appropriate decorations to express themselves.
The day kicked off with a set from North Carolina's folk-country four-piece Mt. Moriah, fronted by the golden-voiced Heather McEntire. Omaha's aforementioned Icky Blossoms followed, heavy on the sing-along dance-pop of their Dave Sitek-produced self-titled debut.
Vancouver's Nü Sensae, who have expanded from a duo to a three-piece, put a harder edge on the day. Their latest album, Sundowning, is also their first for Seattle label Suicide Squeeze, and the raw thrash of their earlier material has finally been given some shape. Singer/bassist Andrea Lukic still screams through clenched teeth, her low-end providing the foundation for drummer Daniel Pitout to punch holes in, but the addition of guitarist Brody McKnight provides a bit of harmonic shading on tracks like “Swim.”
Halfway through the set, Pitout stopped to say he smelled something burning. Turned out to be a false alarm, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was responsible solely through his physical presence behind the kit — he is one of the most underrated drummers of the last decade.
Fellow Vancouverites White Lung kept the loud and fast theme going, playing tracks from their new album, Sorry, which clocks in at just 20 minutes. The quartet is heavily indebted to the '80s hardcore scene, and singer Mish Way talk-screamed us through their short set, looking poised as the rest of the band thrashed behind her.
The crowd swelled to capacity for headliners Icona Pop, a Swedish electronic duo who recently got a boost when their song “I Love It” was featured on an episode of Girls. Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo looked a bit surprised to see so many admirers, but my guess is that's the last time we'll get to see them in a space that intimate.