SXSW 2013, Telekinesis, TOY, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley
SXSW Day Three: TOY, Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Telekinesis, March 14th, 2013
Few things come as more of a surprise than the third day of SXSW. Despite all you did the day before was stroll a few blocks, see a few bands, and have a drink with a friend (shout out to Peché’s absinthe cocktails), you wake up feeling like you were hit by a tour bus. Clearly I haven’t trained for this kind of thing. Regardless of superficial whine-inducing aches, the night was filled with heavy hitters: TOY, Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Telekinesis.
The night began at Cedar Street Courtyard, where TOY performed cuts from their self-titled debut. Looking not unlike cast members of a certain teenage vampire film; the British five-piece excluded an effortless cool. Pre-set sound issues resolved, their live show came across as equal parts My Bloody Valentine-style noise and Velvet Underground ennui.
At The Moody Theater, the Daptone Records showcase was already in full swing by the time we got there. Charles Bradley had just taken the stage. At 65, Bradley could not only give the bulk of musicians performing at SXSW a run for their money, but take on James Brown himself. (Err…provided time travel is invented sometime soon.) Performing funk/soul cuts from his forthcoming album Victim of Love, the self-proclaimed “Screaming Eagle of Soul” danced, spun, and did the splits—all without missing a beat. He finished the set, not by exciting the stage via the wings, but by jumping into the audience for a series of well-deserved hugs. The love was mutual.
The only lull in the evening came after Charles Bradley, when the Daptone house band performed for a solid hour between acts. I cannot undersell how impressive they are (capital M Musicians), but after Bradley’s hurricane-level performance, the set became monotonous without a single soloist or vocalist.
And then, there was Sharon Jones. Like Bradley, she too is a musician who established a career in music later in life—and at 57 is determined to enjoy every moment of it. Taking the stage in a sparkly dress and a mile-wide smile, her mere presence was enough to bring the crowd to its feet. Despite a mid-song shoe change (even divas need comfortable footwear), nothing stopped her from working ever inch of the stage. Songs from I Learned the Hard Way didn’t just pop—they achieved anthem status.
SXSW had found its queen.
At The Parish, Telekinesis lit up the Merge Records showcase with cuts from his forthcoming album Domarion. Accompanied by his backing band featuring members of The Globes, Say Hi, and Wild Flag, and briefly, Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, drumming frontman Michael Lerner broke a few hearts with his powerful and poignant pop. Embedded in the set was a cover of “Don’t Change” by INXS, which was a natural and welcome move.
With Shout Out Louds next to take the stage, calling it an evening seemed almost criminal—but therein lays the downside of SXSW. No matter how painful the start is, saying goodnight will always hurt worse.
Check out a gallery of TOY photos here.
Check out a gallery of Sharon Jones here.
Check out a gallery of Telekinesis photos here.