Despite an early night..this day was still based around the theory that we both needed some rest. Breakfast and lounging started the day off and then the leisurely walk over to La Zona Rosa for the Rolling Stone party. La Zona Rosa also will be the site for the Prince show tonight and security is already there and they are setting up some new barricades for what would turn out to be the huge lineup to come tonight.
SXSW Day 5 2013 - The Finale
- Festival Reviews
Thankfully...Badges allow us to wander in and get a strategic seat/picnic table outside to grab some free food/craft beer/and...makers mark bourbon based mixed drinks! Sandra is going all out as she knows her day is going to be an easy one so she dives into the bourbon based mixed drinks and all I can think about is how I have a huge show tonight..so I stick to beer!
The showcase today is not going to hurt us..push us in anyway. Really wanted Sandra to get to see Jake Bugg and Lord Huron is also playing and this is going to give us a chance to really hear them play and lounge about!
Surfer Blood come on, and yes..this could be the 6th or 7th time I have seen them but its good to see them up close and they again provide a solid set.
Next up...Gus & Scout. Had never heard of them before and while they perform really well..smooth alt-country songs I cant help but think there is more to this as the lineup today features a few popular artists and these guys (while still putting on a solid set) are really new to me. A little google search answers that question, as Gus..is Gus Wenner (son of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner) and Scout Willis is daughter of Bruce and Demi. These two hung out together as kids and grew to love the same music and thus...Gus & Scout.
Next up...Jake Bugg
The place gets a lot busier when Jake hits the stage. The band is there...its a perfect stage set up for them and with no sound system issues, the kid plays an amazing set. He is a solid performer, and the haters will always be haters...but I now have seen him perform enough to know that the kid is the real deal..yes, he loves skiffle and early roots country music, loves Donovan and comes from Clifton so that should be enough in itself to admire the fella but he sings really well. Sandra is impressed so that's all that matters!
Next up..Lord Huron ..and we can see the band!! Lead singer sings with two microphones and the system is not working perfectly but the band is in fine form. Offbeat electronics, lovely harmonies, cowbells and harmonica's..the sound live reproduces everything I loved about their album "Lonesome Dreams". The band pushes through a 40 minute set that has the crowd nodding their heads and shuffling their feet and there is not many that are not paying full attention to the band. After which...an old favorite of ours..Free Energy. Awfully fun band, straight ahead and bouncy. Upbeat and the lead singer knows how to work a crowd, they are now a fan favorite here and its a great way to end a comfortable day at the Rolling Stone party swilling free booze and eating free food!
We were going to head out for dinner but after checking the schedule, there was time to fit in one more show to check out another buzz band, the Parquet Courts. Over to Mellow Johnnys we go and we walk into a wall of sound! Pavement like band pushing the volume level of Mellow Johnnys to new heights. Still very melodic and airy, these guys combine great loud and messy guitars with some fantastic voices...quite tasty! Dinner and some rest and then I take Sandra to see a couple of bands she may enjoy before I head out to Prince
First up, is Willy Moon again. And again, he performs a fun filled set of bouncy upbeat and energetic songs and he easily wins over this crowd with a strong set. The Neighbourhood is up next. Another buzz band, California natives play a pop/hip hop guitar influenced rock that is pretty easy to listen to. Apparently their lyrics are gloomy but you couldn't possibly tell from the way they play. They have got their fans and they are making people happy so its a job well done.
With the end of this set..its time for me to head out with my exclusive purple arm band and see Prince.
Sandra is off to rest and I head to La Zona Rosa. Initially it looks like the line is short but I have been fooled...its long, really long. pretty much all of the winners and guests are here waiting. No badges can wait and hope to get in, they make announcements every 10 minutes in the line to make sure people don't waste their time. Without the special purple arm band..you are not getting in.
it takes an hour or more in line before we get close to the door of la zona rosa. Turns out (after we ask security why its taking so long) that some people decided to hang around inside La Zona Rosa after the Rolling Stone mag party and were only discovered after security started showing up for the Prince show. It took them an hour to round them up and make sure the place was clear.
Once in...a quick trip to the bar to stock up and then into the growing crowd for A Tribe Called Quest. Give these guys credit, they were specifically asked by Prince to perform tonight despite their "retirement" and no doubt Samsung helped a bit but the crowd ate them up! I was never a huge fan but you have to admire these guys..they drove the crowd crazy. I was among a few there that did not know every word to their songs but it was hard not to get caught up in the show. Pretty soon we were all swaying left to right and with our arms in the air..it was a fantastic start. Over an hour of fun..even though these guys had to stop a couple of times because they needed a break!..they looked like they were having fun and it was a good set up for Prince.
Less then 30 minutes later and after stocking up on beer..head back into the crowd and the show starts.
Prince has a 23 piece band and they come through the fans on the floor, playing the opening from his classic song 1999 and the place kicks off. Prince and band hits the stage . His NPG band as well as his new 3 piece girl group 3rd Eye Girl roll through hit after hit and its quick to see this night is going to be pretty special. Everyone is moving..and singing and Prince is laughing..and smiling! And while the announcements that repeated before the show ring through your head (no camera or cell phone photo's allowed on risk of getting kicked out) people are starting to sneak a shot or two.
New and old songs are featured in what turns out to be a 3 hour set. He sings Michael Jacksons "Don't stop til you get enough" Janet Jacksons "What have you done for me lately"..even the Time's "Jungle Love" which really has people going. Prince has 7 wardrobe changes and its barely noticeable as he lets his band, and in particular NPG..funk it up playing some instrumental funk jams that fill in the void and keep the place moving. Some would complain that a Prince show without Prince singing..is not a PRince show but that is not the case. He is all about the long funk jams and its fantastic.
He challenges the crowd when they request another encore with statements like "I'm going to hurt you" "Don't you know how many hits I have?" and he keeps coming back ...and coming back. After a while..its easy to move closer through attrition..people are literally overcome by the amount of dancing going on and they move back to get some rest. Even at the 2 1/2 hour mark..the place is packed (why leave?) and its now when I sneak a few photos.
He pulls up stage lights so its a bit easier..the 40 foot screen behind him has been very bright all night and now its more subdued so he is a good chance..and its great to see him smiling and running around the stage built specifically for him and his band.Going on 3 hours and 4 or 5 encores (who's counting) its 3am and it looks like Prince wants to go on but local laws and a heavy police presence determines that the show is over and we must go home!
What a fantastic way to end SXSW 2013. An incredible experience for Prince fans...and even for non Prince fans. This is one show I will most likely remember forever
A great day..and night, and now I have about 5 hours to rest then get up and get my flight
See you next year Austin!!!!
thanks for reading ..hope to see you all next year!!!
Jim & Sandra