On the last night of SXSW there were riots at Death From Above 1979’s “secret” show, there was Kanye and the G.O.O.D. roster and Jay-Z electrifying a converted power plant, and there was our Last Night party, featuring Cults, Gold Panda, Puro Instinct, Owen Pallett, Das Racist, birthday cake, and this whole thing. Tomorrow we’ll have a pretty spread of portraiture of our favorite artists taken by Mr. Ryan Muir, for now we point you back to our coverage from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, our list of SXSW 2011’s must-see bands, and this look at Saturday’s goings-on. Click through for photos, and some thoughts on Childish Gambino and Tombs…
Childish Gambino @ Red 7
A lot of Childish Gambino’s songs count as humble brags. “I am just a rapper” (also the name of two of his mixtapes) is the most frequent. Being just a rapper isn’t so bad. And he’s not just a rapper. Donald Glover’s performance was supposed to be about twice as long as a normal SXSW set, with some time devoted to standup and video (as Glover) before his music (as Gambino). Technical problems prevented this, so Glover was just a rapper for his SXSW show, except for his adept freestyling with L.A. rapper Kendrick Lamar, except for singing his own hooks in a clear falsetto, except for how funny he was between songs. Any references to the size of his penis (a non-humble brag) made girls in the audience yelp. “An elephant never forgets / so my dick remembers everything” (from “Freaks and Geeks,”) worked especially well with both genders (I detected a mix of admiration, jealously, and curiosity from the crowd). He mocked his own tendency to fall into the traps of writing only about money, girls, clothes (and size), but he covers them with unusual specificity. For example, there’s probably not another rapper who would shout “mixed girls from Williamsburg, that’s my fucking Kryptonite.” That line itself is a form of Kryptonite.
Tombs @ Lovejoys (Brooklyn Vegan)
Maybe it was homesickness, but on Saturday my favorite sets came via three New York bands, Batillus, Tombs, and Castevet. (Though San Francisco trio Grayceon, who I caught twice in the same day, were a revelation, made me want to listen to their new albino All We Destroy on repeat. As was Chicago renaissance man Bruce Lamont’s solo set at Valhalla featuring his patented atmospheric-metal sax, plenty of Feral Songs For The Epic Decline’s dark Americana drone, and a last-second guitar contribution from Castevet frontman Andrew Hock.)
As mentioned a couple weeks ago when I posted “What Heart,” the addition of vocalist/synth handler Fade Kainer has transformed Batillus from a working-man’s instrumental doom trio to a mesmerizing, heavy-as-fuck industrialized doom quartet and one of the Big Apple’s most inspiring acts. (Also: Their low, low, low-end set at Lovejoys decimated the stomach of a friend of mine who’d just scarfed down too much all-you-can-eat barbecue.) Fellow New Yorkers Tombs also tore up Lovejoys with a sneak-peak of some new darker, heavier, more epic songs. (Judging from that material, the trio might finally get the larger acclaim they deserve.) During the opener — which found Carson James using his bass as a weapon, Andrew Hernandez hitting his drums so hard he looked like he might pass out, and Mike Hill being the compelling “I could kick your ass, easily” no-bullshit Chris Spencer-style frontman he is, I felt an honest, unexpected sense of hometown pride.
Ditto during ballsy blackened post-hardcore/metal trio Castevet’s later set at Valhalla’s Profound Lore Showcase (a showcase that also turned me into a bigger Wolvhammer fan). While Castevet played I found myself focusing on the precision Ian Jacyszyn puts into his drumming, but also the loogies (the appropriately surnamed) Hock kept spitting into the fan above the stage, spraying the unfortunate folks upfront. Afterward he mentioned to me that a number of the songs are attacks on specific people, so he figured the spitting was appropriate. It’s nice watching a true punk, a guy ready to fuck things up even when he isn’t uploading the outcome to his YouTube account.