Top 5 performances from SXSW — and the artists to follow this year
SXSW 2015 was a throwback to five years ago: crowds were lighter, marquee names weren't in abundance and (most crucially) people were more interested in discovering new acts than waiting around all day to see established ones. This made for an easier and more pleasant experience than the two prior years. Police were helpful, the safety measures seemed smart and lines were mostly quite reasonable. Overall, it was the thoughtful course correction many hoped for.
The "Choose Your Own Adventure" festival means everyone has a completely different experience. After 2014, where we happened upon Sam Smith, Chet Faker, London Grammar, Future Islands and Charli XCX, we thought there was no way to top it. However, we still found tons of notable artists old and new while catching nearly 50 acts. Of that lot, there were dozens of great moments, but here are five we'll remember for years to come.
Run The Jewels: Stubb's on Friday
You could be forgiven for thinking that Run The Jewels would simply turn up and honor an obligation. The rain was mucking things up at SPIN's day show, and Killer Mike was just back from a visit to his Atlanta doctor after being attacked at an earlier showcase. But that's not how these guys do things. As El-P and Mike hit the stage, the crowd roared approval and flashed the duo's signs, leading them to declare, "We're gonna burn this [expletive] place to the ground!"
They weren't kidding. The audience at the gig sang every word from both RTJ albums, and the rappers prowled the stage with an intense confidence. It's rare to see a live act that's at once totally on point and also having a great time, but this was it. Run The Jewels resonated with rap fans and you could see the group feeding off the massive energy and audience love.