NPR Music At SXSW: Friday
The rain arrived in Austin on Friday, but it didn't wash away the weirdness. One-legged kung-fu dance moves, fog machines that sent off fire alarms that blow out electronic instruments and all sorts of other challenges couldn't stop the music, though, and our team at SXSW has sent back proof: photos, recommendations and a video of Laura Marling playing a song from her new album, Short Movie, at 2 a.m. outside a church.
Here are some of the best things we heard at SXSW on Friday.
Day 4 Picks
Armed with a punchier sound and an amazing ability to use her voice to tell a story, Laura Marling played a set at St. David's Episcopal Church was transporting both aurally and lyrically. --Bob Boilen
"When I am done where I'm supposed to be, I'm going to give it hell!" declared Wynonna Judd to the audience overflowing St. David's Bethel Hall for her midnight set. The Nashville superstar is in transition, moving from studio- polished pop to a rawer, more intimate style in a small combo anchored by her husband and producer, Cactus Moser, on drums. Wynonna shared material from her upcoming album and reworked major hits like "She Is His Only Need" with clean arrangements that highlighted her still-extraordinary voice. She also told stories of her crazy country-music life, poked fond fun of her friend Dave Grohl ("he's like A 10th-grader with cash," she said of his enthusiastic onstage rock style), admitted she was jealous of Kanye's SXSW hype and belted out notes that would have made Aretha Franklin weep. "I was named after Wynonie Harris, so I'm blues on the inside," she declared before delivering a face-melting version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads." Wynonna let it all hang out tonight. It was clear she can get whatever she wants to go. --Ann Powers
The earth beneath Mackenzie Scott's feet shudders when the 24-year-old singer performs. Ragged, raw and passionate, it's easy to imagine this Macon, Ga. native releasing a landmark album at some point in her still very young career. --Robin Hilton
Pop singer Genevieve was the subject of a tug-of-war on the All Songs Considered SXSW preview show, and with good reason. All of us wanted to be the one to gift listeners with "Colors," the ebullient, unflappable anthem with which Genevieve closed her set tonight. Her unbridled enthusiasm was hardwired into every word and every movement. In a festival based in equal parts serendipity and logistical complexity, this song and performance were a potent reminder that joy can be wherever you look for it. --Katie Presley (contributor)
Mahousyoujo-ni-naritai, which opened SXSW's annual "Japan Nite" festivities, is all about sensory overload: electro-pop crossed with metal crossed with chipper shrieking, set against animated backdrops that depict everything from broccoli-headed men to a back story about a witch's curse. It looks and sounds like all the world's surreal ideas mashed together, all wrapped up in a sense of anarchic fun. --Stephen Thompson
Part JPop, part Screamo, part Chiptune, part Pop Punk, part live RPG that results in 100% PURE JOY. It was their first time in the U.S. and one of my absolute must-sees of the week. They did not disappoint. --Adam Kissick (photographer)
South X Lullaby: Laura Marling
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