The Current at SXSW: Friday, March 17

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Benjamin Booker and Jade show off their nifty headsets
Benjamin Booker and Jade show off their nifty headsets (Jay Gabler/MPR)

Hello from Austin! We're excited to be part of one of the world's biggest music discovery events, the SXSW Music conference. Every day this week, we've been sharing updates on what's news and what's next.

Today is the last of four day parties we're co-presenting with Noisetrade at the Blackheart on Rainey Street. If you're in Austin, come by and see us!

If you're not at SXSW, you can watch The Current's Facebook page as Jade talks with several artists, starting at noon. Today, we're planning to talk with Chicano Batman, the Wild Reeds, Sara Watkins, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Middle Kids, and Zak Starkey. You can also hear Jade check in from SXSW on The Current at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (thecurrentsnaps) for live reports on all the action.

Here's the lineup today at the Blackheart:

Indoor Stage
11:30 to 12 p.m.: Middle Kids
12:30 to 1 p.m.: Brent Cobb
1:30 to 2 p.m.: Andrew Combs
2:30 to 3 p.m.: Slow Dancer
3:30 to 4 p.m.: Sara Watkins
4:30 to 5 p.m.: Christopher Paul Stelling

Outdoor Stage
12 to 12:30 p.m.: The Whiskey Gentry
1 to 1:30 p.m.: River Whyless
2 2:30 p.m.: Hurray For The Riff Raff
3 3:30 p.m.: The Wild Reeds
4 to 4:30 p.m.: Nicole Atkins
5 to 5:40 p.m.: Chicano Batman

Tonight, of course, is the big Prince tribute featuring André Cymone and Wyclef Jean at the Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake. Cymone and guitarist Dez Dickerson will also be part of a panel, earlier in the day, about Prince's legacy.

Minnesota artists playing SXSW showcases today include the 4onthefloor (Barracuda Backyard); the Blind Shake (Hotel Vegas); DEM YUUT (Barracuda); Gaelynn Lea (St. David's Bethell Hall); Hippo Campus and Lizzo (Radio Day Stage); and Tancred (Barracuda). (Bonus: Minnesota's friend Lil Yachty is at Antone's.)

In addition to Hippo Campus, the Radio Day Stage is also hosting acts including Spoon and Valerie June. Lana Del Rey is playing an Apple Music showcase at 612 W 4th Street — if you're not already in line, good luck. Ryan Adams headlines Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. Talib Kweli and Benjamin Booker are among the performers at StubHub's Banger's showcase, and Weezer will likely bust out their new material at Brazos Hall.

Big Star's Third are playing...yes, Big Star's Third, and bringing friends including Robyn Hitchcock and Parker Millsap to Central Presbyterian Church. Neko Case and M. Ward are playing Showtime's Twin Peaks House, and the British Music Embassy starts with Rag'n'Bone Man at Latitude 30. Gary Clark Jr. is at the Levi's Outpost, while Future Islands and the Lemon Twigs headline the 4AD Revue showcase outdoors at the Mohawk.

That's just the tip of the iceberg...for a complete lineup of today's official music events, see sxsw.com.

Wednesday recap

The crowds gathered slowly but surely today at the Blackheart, hitting capacity by mid-afternoon. One of the day's most raved-about performances was by Ron Gallo, who came by the porch afterwards to talk with Jade.

We also had visits from the remarkable (and charming) Benjamin Booker, as well as Jason Lytle of Grandaddy.

Watch for more interviews from today, to be posted later on our YouTube channel: Muddy Magnolias, and Nicole Atkins, who kicked the day off with a performance right on the porch after being up until 4:30 a.m. the previous night.

Hey @muddymagnolias! Watch for their interview with @jaders18 on our YouTube channel. #SXSW

A post shared by The Current (@thecurrent) on

There was incredible, and well-deserved, buzz today for the climactic outdoor set by Kitten Rainbow Surprise. A couple more highlights for me: the Swedish trio Baskery, who describe their sound as "banjo punk" and sound like the First Aid Kit you wouldn't bring home to meet your parents. Then, there was Alice Jemima — who wrapped things up indoors with a set that showcased both her strong originals and the "No Diggity" reimagining that's become an online sensation.

My first stop after the day party was Cheer Up Charlie's, where the Polyvinyl showcase was opened by Joan of Arc — the 22-year-old band led by Tim Kinsella. Joan of Arc today range from folk-style singing to laconic rapping, all drenched in feedback. If the band were to land a song in a movie, it would be a Tom Cruise vehicle in which the hero became unhinged; the Joan of Arc song would play as he wandered through a club, realizing just how far he's drifted from the reality he thought he knew.

The main reason I was at Cheer Up Charlie's, though, was to catch a set by Tancred — the band led by Jess Abbott of Now, Now. Tancred started as an Abbott recording project, but it's now a full-fledged three-piece touring band that got the Charlie's crowd nodding with crunchy but melodic alt-rock served up good and loud.

After Tancred's set, I headed down to the ATO Records showcase, where Nick Hakim was charming the crowd with a mellow croon. Judging by the way the crowd swelled, one of the night's top attractions was Chicano Batman. Dressed in matching ruffled-shirt suits, the band built from vibe-heavy guitar jams to the keyboard hook in "Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm)" — a sweet song with prominent duet vocals that earned an appreciative reaction.

Hurray for the Riff Raff then took the stage, somehow even more powerful in the cozy courtyard than they'd been the previous evening on the large Stubb's stage for the NPR Music showcase. I had to head to bed before the end of their set, though...past midnight, it was already another day at SXSW.


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