Matson on Music
SXSW 2011 post #6: Hausu, Macklemore pt. 2, Charles Bradley
Posted by Andrew Matson
My second day at SXSW was exhausting and inspiring. Three highlights, with extra photos:
Reed College band Hausu played heartfelt, garage-Springsteen rock to basically nobody at 3 in the afternoon, in a lot outside downtown that looked like it was cut and pasted from some remote desert town.
As far as exposure, it didn't look good for the Portlanders. But the quality of music was excellent (video later), and the scene picturesque — bright sunlight, leafy trees, stage in front of an old-looking bar with peeling paint.
I've seen Hausu a few times now, and this was the first I really paid attention to how technical some of their guitar parts are. Fingers running up and down the necks of their electric guitars, but never in a show-off way, Hausu shredded in service of song.
Macklemore pt. 2
By the time I got to the SXSeattle party on the other end of town, Seattle rapper Macklemore was playing underneath a giant oak tree, to roughly 150 people. The scene was backyard BBQ-esque — completely different from the giant Fader Fort tent he played the day before — and the energy was high, with plenty Seattleites present. Everyone seemed to know exactly what Mack was rapping about when he did his Dave Niehaus tribute, "My Oh My."
Later in the evening, I was texted that I should see Charles Bradley in the Cedar Street courtyard, who I'd never heard of. That text might as well have been from God.
Bradley did for me what only great soul singers can, pulled my heart apart and put it back together, convinced me love is the answer to all the world's problems and sent me back into the world feeling cleansed. When the Brooklynite took off his wide-lapel jacket and forcefully threw it on the ground, it was like he banished pain and suffering from the premises.
Hearing his powerful, gravelly voice, it was immediately apparent he was an unheralded old master. I heard Otis Redding, I heard James Brown. I was surprised to hear Neil Young.
Backed by the Menahan Street Band — aka the horns on "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)" by Jay-Z — Bradley sang "Heart of Gold," and turned it into a slow burner, almost a ballad (video later). When he got to Neil Young's line "I'm getting old," he sang almost under his breath, as if to himself.
Photos by me
Dec 31 - 6:30 AM Premiere: 'Seattle Party' by Chastity Belt
Dec 31 - 6:00 AM 'Stop Biting' night at Lo-Fi now an album, mini doc
Dec 29 - 11:52 AM Were you there? 'The Rolling Stones' and Shabazz/THEESat
Dec 28 - 6:00 AM Top 40 of 2012, Seattle and beyond
Dec 27 - 6:00 AM Shabazz / THEESat: a history of high-concept Seattle shows