The SXSW line-up for 2018 is, as usual, one of wide-ranging scope. Within a few blocks you can see artists from indie, punk, hip-hop, R&B, pop, and more, the sounds all bleeding into each other in the queues outside. Here are some of the highlights from day four at the eclectic event.
If Addison Lee is good enough for One Direction (the boy band famously referenced the cab company in single ‘Midnight Memories’), then it’s definitely good enough for Hackney MC Not3s, and, it turns out, Austin too. Even before he drops his viral hit named after the taxi firm, The Main II is hyped for it. One American man sat on the edge of the stage enthusiastically repeats the song’s “Peng ting called Maddison” line, but Not3s has some words of advice for him. “You can’t call yourself a peng ting, bruv,” he laughs. Beforehand, his set is an exercise in ramping up the excitement, the likes of ‘100 Degrees’ and ‘Notice’ serving as rapidfire hype builders until things get to the point where Not3s’ afropop, grime, and dancehall-melding antics provoke fans to join the rapper on stage to show off their moves. If Not3s is the future of British rap, then we’ve got plenty to look forward to.
You can’t say Princess Nokia – aka New Yorker Destiny Nicole Frasqueri – doesn’t have energy. As ‘Tomboy’ blares over the PA at Clive Bar, she bounces around the stage dancing like someone running on a truckload of E numbers. It’s a theme that runs through pretty much her whole set, hair flying under her orange beanie and rammed venue responding in fervent kind. ‘Kitana’ is one of the night’s hardest landing songs, the rapper summing up her whole appeal while riding on an urgent beat: “I step in this bitch and do what I want/I don’t give a damn and I don’t give a fuck.“
At the LA rock kids’ usual shows, Starcrawler leader Arrow de Wilde often spits fake blood at the crowd while performing like a possessed woman. Today is a little different – the band are playing a short set for a Minnesota radio station so there’s no time for any crimson. If anything, though, a show without it proves that doesn’t define them. Arrow is still the kind of performer you can’t take your eyes off – half because she’s so compelling to watch and half because at any second it feels like she could be in the crowd and in your face. A couple of people have the pleasure of that latter experience, the singer obliterating even the concept of personal space, while guitarist Henri Cash bares his teeth to the front row in the manner of a vampire sizing up his prey. Of the four songs they play, ‘I Love LA’ is strongest – a punk anthem dedicated to their hometown of the City of Angels – whether it’s being bellowed into your eardrum at close range or not.
East London’s Yxng Bane might be best known for his Yungen collaboration ‘Bestie’, but tonight he’s flying solo. The singer doesn’t need anyone else to make things go off. On the trap-driven ‘Diamonds’ sees him pulling a fan onstage for a playful dance-off, and his remix of ‘Shape Of You’ has him reclaiming afrobeats from Ed Sheeran in cocksure fashion. A sneak preview of new single ‘Vroom’ hints Yxng Bane has plenty more quality to unleash on the world soon that could rival the platinum success of ‘Bestie’, or at the very least turn dingy venues into sweaty oases filled with bangers.