Aurgasm@SXSW – Day One
Nas and Damian Marley
After we arrived into Austin and got our badges and photo passes, we cut across town to catch the tail end of Levi’s annual FADER FORT. With a stacked line-up all week that includes Aurgasm favorites, Local Natives, we got to the Fort in time to discover Wednesday night’s “Special Guests” were none other than Nas and Damian Marley, who have a collaboration album, Distant Relatives, tentatively dropping this May. The crowd didn’t need any encouragement when Damian said, “If you’ve got a lighter, put it up in the air. If you don’t have a lighter, hold up your cell phone! …if you don’t have a cell phone, just hold up your hand.” Damian, in case you didn’t know, our hands were up since you first stepped on stage, and never dropped.
Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik may have played to a smaller crowd at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary on Wednesday night, but her poignant songs had the audience enraptured. Strangely enough, Sofia mentioned “This is the second church we’ve played in this tour. It’s weird, I’m not even religious!” Sofia’s songs, which range from melancholy to blithely anecdotal, all contain a hint of wistfulness within them. Set against the backdrop of a 157 year old church, Sofia’s dreamy folk-pop was a beautiful way to start the evening.
Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat and her autoharp may have run into a slight technical mishap during her set at Emo Jr.’s, but the crowd (and Basia) didn’t even falter. The folk songstress’ set included tracks from both her debut album Oh, My Darling, which was shortlisted for a Polaris Music Prize in 2008, and her newest record, Heart of My Own. Basia was backed by Allison “Wonderland” Stewart on viola and backing vocals, and her brother Bobby on drums, and all three kept the crowd at Emo’s wanting more.
Before English folkster Johnny Flynn started his set at Latitude 30, he told the crowd, “Tonight’s show is dedicated to my goldfish, who died today,” and started right in with the buoyant track, “The Box”. Playing songs from his 2008 debut, A Larum, as well as his newer Sweet Wiliam EP, Johnny kept the crowd tapping and bobbing their heads along with his marvelously upbeat and terrifically English indie folk. Though he was backed by a cellist, bass player, drummer & keyboardist, Johnny himself played acoustic and electric guitar, trumpet, violin and mandolin! His albums are some of my favorites to play in the car, but the multi-instrumentalist is best served live.