YelaWolf Brings High Energy to SXSW

 

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The scent of reefer permeates the air, while booty shorts aptly donned by girls of various ethnic backgrounds roam through the iconic Sixth Street. Fans of music, artists waiting to be discovered, corporate brand mongers, mysterious food trucks, and Austin’s finest all connect on six degrees of separation (word to Karinthy).

The clamor from hip-hop, rock, and dance musicians once again clang in Texas for South by Southwest 2013.

To start, there’s too many shows, events, and jump-offs taking place for a mere mortal body to fully engulf oneself. So the smart choice is applying deductive reasoning and pick out what showcases that most pique your interest. Late on March 13, Earl Sweatshirt of the popular West Coast skate pack Odd Future was the defining choice.

The sensationalized 20-year-old garnered much fanfare, and interest of some notable label reps—members of Shady Records/Goliath Artists. The manager of Eminem and Action Bronson, Paul Rosenberg gave the Golf Wang rapper a listen, while blowing his cigar.

Earl’s delivery, for the most part, didn’t have the thump demanded for a live performance. His pitch control, along with Odd Future member Domo Genesis, stuttered, and the crowd’s reaction to his short 15-minute set was ordinary at best. For now, it feels like the ingeniously talented rapper’s music is better off heard through the headphones.

March 14 kicked off smoothly. The breezy spring weather of Texas set the tone for Monster Energy-sponsored celebration of Yelawolf and producer WillPower’s new mixtape Trunk Muzik Returns at Club de Ville. Former Universal Motown artist, and Alabama native Jackie Chain went “Rollin’” through the stage as the crowd cheered along with their respective Monster Energy drinks held up high (literally and figuratively).

Around 11 p.m., a very bearded Yelawolf, decked out in full leather outfit, shades, grills, and a fedora finally arrived on stage to a much amped-up audience that’s been eagerly waiting for his arrival. The Shady Records signee openly admitted his dislike for records off his major label debut, Radioactive, and added that Trunk Muzik Returns, was his way of fully circling back to his musical roots. The results were evident throughout his set, as his energy completely engulfed the venue.

After the Yelawolf’s lively performance, it was time to check out Hit-Boy and his crew Hits Since 87’s set at Myspace-hosted Secret Show. Yes, Myspace is doing something cool again. Despite all your reservations, give the newly revamping social media platform a chance. The popular producer and his posse were overly animated, and presented a thorough run on stage, even inviting fellow West Coast native Casey Veggies for “Cypher,” off the group’s latest mixtape All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of. The confidence was high, at one point the producer of “Niggas in Paris” and “Backseat Freestyle” claimed “I’m one of the coldest motherfuckers in the game, period.”

Fellow G.O.O.D Music champ, Kid Cudi, was welcomed to the stage for a charming routine, igniting a sing along. But there was another showcase that had to be checked out.

It was none other than a live performance of Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge at Scoot Inn. To commemorate their upcoming collaborative album 12 Reasons to Die, the producer/composer Younge set off on an enchanting piece of rock, soul, and groove recital before he announced the appearance of Wu-Tang Clan’s most consistent album dropper. The Wallabee champ, despite his mild sickness, delivered a solid string of verses over Younge and his band’s live instrumentation. But what the fans really demanded were classic records from the GFK’s long-expanding catalog. From “Ice Cream” to “We Made It,” even the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” Ghost laced the crowd with favorites that stirred chants. Sheek Louch’s addition to the stage with “All About the Benjamins” and L.O.X.’s “Wild Out” only turned up the noise level to a higher decibel.

Ghost praised the almighty for his blessings, and as every set he’s done in the past, wrapped up the evening with “peace.” —Jaeki Cho