With a name like Epic Awesome, Palladia really had some high expectations to meet. But with a lineup consisting of Sam Smith, Phantogram, Aloe Blacc and Bleachers, it was almost guaranteed to be an “epic awesome” time. And the event definitely lived up to the hype.
The invite-only event kicked off with a performance by Bravesoul on the outdoor stage at The Cedar Door. The crowd began to grow by the time husband and wife duo Johnnyswim took over. If people didn’t know who they were before, they definitely do now. At this point, a crowd had also begun to form on a nearby roof and Johnnyswim’s Abner Ramirez wouldn’t be the only artist to shout out the group of onlookers.
It’s safe to say that the Palladia crowd was sufficiently warmed up after Johnnyswim’s folky R&B set. But all eyes were on Sam Smith, Britain’s must-see artist. Excited to be performing his first outdoor concert, Sam Smith seemed almost as delighted as the audience cheering him on. With his highly anticipated debut album expected this June, Smith opted to give the audience a taste of some things they already knew, along with some fresh material from the new album. He dedicated his performance of “Latch” to the guys of Disclosure, who unfortunately aren’t in town for SXSW this year. The performance was captivating and Sam Smith had the crowd swooning over him.
The tempo shifted quick significantly as Phantogram took the stage. Lead singer Sarah Barthel displayed not only her amazing vocals but also a pair of pretty fantastic studded pant (of which many in the audience yelled out their approval). With hits like “Black Out Days” and “Don’t Move,” Phantogram quickly turned the Cedar Door into a dance party.
But the man of the hour was definitely Aloe Blacc, who is performing everywhere this SXSW. By the time he finally took the stage around 10, the crowd was eagerly pushing their way to the front. He wasted no time and performed his hits “I’m The Man,” “Wake Me Up” and “I Need a Dollar” back to back for a crowd of adoring fans, who managed to sing every word along with him.
Palladia had the drinks flowing all night, but most of the eager fans seemed to clear out after Blacc left the stage. Which is a shame because they missed the first live performance ever from Jack Antonoff’s new band Bleachers. Playing songs from the new album (due this spring), Bleachers closed out a truly “epic awesome” night of emerging talent.