SXSW 2016: deep in the heart of Texas on a Saturday night
The hits from the last night of the SXSW festival including Snarky Puppy, NxWorries, Deantoni Parks and J Rocc and Karriem Riggins.
By Saturday, SXSW is so done that you could stick a fork in it. The buzz bands have left town, most of the parties are over, a lot of the delegates have headed home and the usual Saturday night hustle makes getting anywhere around Sixth Street more hassle that it’s worth.
But if you dig deeper, you can find gold and that meant sticking to two spaces. At the Empire Garage venues on Red River, the Stones Throw and Leaving labels were hosting back to back showcases, while Snarky Puppy mastermind Michael League’s GroundUp label were in situ at the Cedar Street Courtyard. Cue some un-EPO-enhanced cycling through the backlanes to get the best of both worlds.
The big surprise for many was the funky-as-fuck collaboration between J Rocc and Karriem Riggins. With the latter on the drums and the former on the decks, the pair whipped up a set which ebbed and flowed with thrills and delights. The highlight, naturally, was Dillaesque. Here’s hoping the pair re-up this mesmerising display again soon.
You got the feeling that Knxwledge was a bit annoyed at the fact that his NxWorries partner was nowhere to be seen at the start of their set. “Got the feeling”? More like you couldn’t not know that Knxwledge was fuming about the lack of a certain Mister Anderson Paak onstage. Given that Paak was rushing around the city like a blue-arsed fly all week may have had something to do with it, but Knxwledge sulked like a toddler and proceeded to engage in some car-crash DJ-ing for about 20 minutes. All changed when Paak grinned his way onstage, chided his NxWorries sidekick and proceeded to show just why he’s the man when it comes to SXSW 2016. Paak is sure to be leaving small clubs like this one behind pretty fast so it was fascinating to see him still able to roll and punch with the best of them. A year ago, I remember catching them in action and there were very few there to see the show. It’s much different story in 2016 thanks to the Paak effect.
Deantoni Parks is the funky drummer. He worked with Flying Lotus, The Mars Volta and Sade before releasing the “Technoself” album late last year, yet its shine come second to the thrilling, exciting, attention-catching live show. Playing the drumkit with his left hand and feet and triggering a keyboard and effects with his right hand, Parks’ show is a sublime blend of man and machine creating bespoke, unique, highly infectious electronic music. You can hear traces of various influences and other sounds, but this Parklife is distinctive, eerie and unmissable
It’s taken me until now to see Snarky Puppy live and it’s truly my loss. Playing far side get-down music for mind, body and soul, the group have been pushing the envelope far and wide when it comes to just what jazz is all about for some time now. In the Cedar Street Courtyard, the band with the deep Texas roots unveiled colourful, gloriously textured and bewitchingly infectious grooves to keep folks dancing and moving. It was a family house party and one where the group’s different components – the NOLA-style brass, the funky-funky shakedown and the noodly wig-outs – came powerfully together. A fine, fine way to end a mighty week of live music.