Every year, world-famous chef Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party at SXSW is a coveted experience. She hopes to combine two of her most favored passions – food and music – to bring people together to enjoy one scintillating day of yummy bites, satisfying drinks, good company and eclectic music. This year, her party is open to the public on an RSVP-only basis. Even with the rain and 4+ hour line wrapped around the block, it is well worth the effort to attend the Feedback experience.
The best element of the party is without a doubt the music. Allen Stone kicks off the Blue Moon Stage with an electrifying performance. His bluesy-rock revival sound is just funky enough to filter an eager group of folks to the side stage. Free cocktails and small bites in hand, they all respond well to Stone’s groovy Tina Turner-inspired moves. He commands the stage with an effortlessly impressive voice with soul to fill the entire venue. Stone’s sweet smile also adds warmth to the dismal weather. The best part of his performance is getting a taste of his new album (due to release later this year) when he plays “Voodoo.” The saucy lyrics coupled with Stone’s big smile elevate the mood.
By the time Yelawolf hits the Park’s Finest Stage, the rain takes a turn for the worse, but audience morale remains high. The rumors are true – close friend of Yelawolf Travis Barker joins him on drums for the entirety of the set. Together, they bring a fast-paced energy to the stage that is palpable enough to cut through the dreary weather in the outdoor venue. His newest album, Love Story hits stores this May. Just to give the crowd a taste of what is to come, he plays his latest single “Black Chevy V.” Unfortunately, the rapper’s music is not received as well as the subsequent performers’ because most of the audience waits at the other stage for the arrival of The Wild Feathers.
The Wild Feathers put a rough, fast spin on the blues scene. Their approach is addicting with fast beats and swift guitar riffs. These all-Americans create an inviting environment at the Blue Moon Stage. They start off their set with “Backwoods Company.” The song’s long harmonica-led intro beckons the crowd toward the stage and incites a fun bounce around the pit. Even though they may be considered a bit wet behind the ears (with just one album under their belts), these guys have made a mark on the scene. The Feathers can check opening for living legends Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson off their bucket lists. Upon hearing the heartfelt “I Can Have You,” live, it is no secret that this group is extremely talented and special.
Having done a surprise performance with Dum Dum Girls at their Spotify House performance earlier in the week as well as a signing at the convention center, Blondie singer Debbie Harry has covered enough ground to make her permanent mark on SXSW 2014. The perfect culmination to her long week of surprises is a fierce performance with the full band at the Feedback party. Indeed, Blondie’s performance is almost as spicy as the Bloody Marys served up at the surrounding bars. They open their set with power jam “One Way or Another,” and the crowd mobs the main Park’s Finest Stage to get closer to the rock legends. Debbie Harry fearlessly leads the band and crowd through each song. What an exciting way to keep this party going.
From country and blues-rock to hip hop and electronic music, this party has it all. Rachael Ray even takes a minute to address the crowd and say howdy. Grab a hot dog, grab a Blue Moon, grab another Bloody Mary. Even though the weather is not ideal, people still are all a-smiles and making friends. It quickly becomes apparent that this party is what SXSW is all about – bringing people together to enjoy good company, good food, and especially bond over new music.