SXSW Day One: Sirah, Charli XCX, IO Echo, Divine Fits, and Cirque du Soleil | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Divine Fits

SXSW 2013, Sirah, Charli XCX, Io Echo, Divine Fits, Cirque du Soleil

SXSW Day One: Sirah, Charli XCX, IO Echo, Divine Fits, and Cirque du Soleil, March 12th, 2013

Mar 18, 2013 SXSW 2013 Photography by Laura Studarus Bookmark and Share

The joy of SXSW is its diversity. Every March for the last 26 years, the city of Austin, Texas, has opened doors on nearly every one of its 272 square miles to musicians from across the world. Trying to organize one’s schedule at the SXSW is somewhat akin to rearranging passengers in a clown car, but sheer numbers guarantee that you’re unlikely to walk away completely empty-handed.

Despite historically lacking in big-name performances, the opening night of the 27th annual SXSW delivered the goods. I kicked off my first evening out in The Lone Star State with sets from Sirah, Charli XCX, IO Echo, Divine Fits, and Cirque du Soleil. (Yes, that Cirque du Soleil.)

Perhaps one of the few downsides to SXSW’s enduring popularity is having to get to venues early to assure entry. Which is how, in anticipation for Charli XCX, I found myself at The Belmont watching Sirah. While I cannot fault the Los Angeles rapper’s enthusiasm (there was energy—lots of it), her strangled flow was seemingly in constant battle with the venue’s glitchy sound system. Add to that a yelped declaration that, “I’ve never been on this stage before!” and the whole performance smacked of amateur hour.

Despite failing to be impressed by Charli XCX at last year’s SXSW, I went into the British electro popper’s set with an open mind—aided by the sharp hooks, beats, and chants of her two forward-thinking mixtapes. But alas, none of that translated to her live performance, which was more akin to rogue Hot Topic patron than underground bad girl. Although she who lives in glass houses should be the last to throw stones. I too went through a Tiffany phase.

Over at The Mohawk, IO Echo delivered the first powerhouse show of the festival. Wearing a long, pink Japanese robe, frontwoman Joanna Gikas’ unhinged performance-style is quickly positioning her to become the Courtney Love of pop. (Well, minus the inevitable breakdown, Twitter freak-outs, and general slide from relevancy to perpetual punch line.) Culled from their forthcoming album Ministry of Love, the duo’s set was equal parts 1980s pop, punk energy, and pastel gloom.

Seasoned performers, it was no surprise that Divine Fits delivered the goods at their Cirque du Soleil-sponsored showcase. This aint their first time at the rodeo. (Texas humor.) A collection of indie royalty, Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs), and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) cranked out the hits from their debut album A Thing Called Divine Fits, transforming its synth-driven cuts into a more rocking affair.

Capping off the night was a clutch of performers from Cirque Du Soleil. (Again, diversity is a major keyword here.) While showing a promo video with clips from their elaborate stage show was a bit of a mistake (“This is the cool stuff we won’t be seeing,” my editor muttered.), the athletes/artists still managed to build a memorable performance out of minimal tools. From the small (a man balanced on a tube balanced on a table), to medium (a gymnast on a spinning hoop), to the magnificent (a group of twelve performers building a human pyramid via intricate series of leaps, jumps and throws), there was plenty at stake. Speaking as a writer who spends the majority of her days hunched over a keyboard, and has been known to injure herself by tripping over her own feet, it was an unexpectedly impressive way to close out the night.

Check out photos of Divine Fits here.








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