Last week was the music industry conference/festival called SXSW (also referred to as “South By” by horrible, horrible people). It’s that beloved time of year when the entire music industry (bloggers, critics, publicists, managers, label execs, etc) comes together to test the physical and emotional endurance of music publicists and young bands.
Great album kid! Can you play it eight times a day for five straight days in parking lots across Austin in ninety plus degree weather with no shade? Don’t worry, we’ll pump you full of cheap beer and tacos. What could go wrong?
Of course, all joking aside, it’s a great opportunity to discover new artists for the first time. Everyone knows that if you’re doing SXSW right then you hit the small club showcases, you take a few risks on off-the-radar parties, and otherwise focus on the painstakingly curated events by trusted tastemakers (Portals, AdHoc, etc).
However! Maybe if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months (for example, maybe you just added, ahem, a pair of newborns to your family), you just go to whatever showcases you want to go to (some big/some small) and end up discovering the guy that has already been featured by the likes of Dr. Dre and some dude named Macklemore.
That’s my way of saying that one of my favorite discoveries this year was Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals who I discovered courtesy of NPR’s showcase. I’m no hip hop expert but, for me, it’s still somewhat of a novelty to see hip hop with a live band, but it’s even more of a novelty when the emcee is simultaneously rapping and drumming in the band.
Novelty aside, his live set was absolutely electric and, happily, the album is just as good and completely filler-free. Don’t just take my word for it. Take a listen to “Come Down” below from his new album Malibu or check out video of his entire set from NPR’s showcase. Pairs well with Lone Star beer and food truck tacos. Pairs with “good food” too but I’m still recovering, okay?