The rumors were true. I’d been tipped off earlier in the day about MellowHype being more than they appeared and Semi Precious Weapons bringing a friend to watch their performance. Given the timing for MellowHype and the fact that this was the only SXSW showcase Semi Precious Weapons would be at this year, I had a good feeling about things. Rusty’s was more than ready for some more sonic magic after an already impressive start, care of Antiquiet’s daytime showcase.
Yours truly clung fervently to the patio stage for a chance to catch emerging acts and a few surprises. New Yorkers The Montauk Project got things seriously rocking, playing from their upcoming album Belly of the Beast. A band named after their hometown and a government conspiracy theory has to make for a compelling show. And, well, they lived up to their moniker. Guitar solos rained down sound like a steady downpour from a raging storm.
Fellow New Yorkers Bugs in the Dark followed the Montauk Project’s heaviness in style and in spirit. Frontwoman Karen Rockower was a stunning mix of sweet and sultry. Though they’ve been primarily prepping a new album and stuck in a studio, the band hadn’t missed a beat in their live performance, playing a solid mix from Hang It On The Wall and their debut LP Grand Avenue.
While Bugs in the Dark were finishing up their set, fans were avidly Snapchatting jealous friends and elbowing one another while the members of Odd Future sat right next to the stage that MellowHype would soon take. It’s no secret that the duo that is MellowHype are Odd Future-ites Hodgy Beats and Left Brain. It did come as a bit of a shock to see Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and others sitting side stage left and rallying the troops once MellowHype took the stage.
As to be expected from an Odd Future show, the crowd absolutely went wild– beyond boisterous as they affectionately yelled “Fuck You” back at the performers onstage who’d just said the same two words. Showers of beer coated an agitated mosh pit that gained traction with every spin. As if Odd Future’s surprise set could be topped, Semi Precious Weapons started their set in a packed Rusty’s. The venue was damn near approaching capacity when their old friend Lady Gaga entered and immediately sat down onstage to watch the NYC group perform. Gaga and Semi Precious Weapons go way back, with the latter on the Monster Ball Tour from 2009 to 2011.
Even before Gaga entered the building, the crowd was in the palm of Semi Precious Weapon’s glitter-coated hands. Every song was a fast-paced jam, expertly designed to get you dancing. It was a joyous end to an evening that sadly saw tragedy. The fact that bands, fans, attendees and Austinites everywhere have united is a testament to the positive changes brought about through SXSW. The show must go on and it is now more than ever; every artist is damn happy to be playing.