Live Report: SXSW 2017 Day Five - Rag'n'Bone Man, Lil Yachty, Loah, Diet Cig, Black Lips & Creepoid

Lil Yachty screams abuse at fan and the Irish showcase premiere's the country's most promising acts

When so many marketing dollars go in to advertising an artist like Rag N Bone Man, your Irish skepticism begins to tingle. "Ah, he can't be that good, can he?" The short and simple answer is yes, he really is that good. In fact, he's far better than good, he's phenomenal. Watching the English singer in the intimate setting of Latitude 30, ten feet from his face, your appreciation for his talent multiples. The heartfelt soul that magnifies from his lips is nothing short of jaw dropping. After the third song, he charmingly joked with the audience about the regret he was feeling wearing a jumper in such a warm club. 'I'm quite a rotund gentleman. That's posh for fat git," he quipped. It may have only been a twenty minute set, but the Brighton artist knocked out his world wide hit 'Human', his upcoming single 'Skin', the Bob Marley cover 'Is This Love' and three other tracks which left the audience pining for more.

If you came from attending the double Brit Award winner Rag N Bone Man's BBC Radio SXSW showcase, it would be a fair assumption that the number one selling soul singer would be a hard act to follow. This was certainly was not the case for Irish/Sierra Leone artist Loah, who performed at the Velvetta Room for the Irish Music Showcase. From the first song it was clear that her vocal abilities easily matched the portly English man. Sallay debuted a host of tracks from her upcoming April EP, including a stunning song sang in the native language of her African grandfather. It's clear to see why Hozier chose to co-write with her on his debut album, her sultry, effortless voice is breathtaking, enveloping the whole venue. There is a gospel/jazz quality to her voice that's not only distinct, it's inviting and tender. Loah's performance was easily in the top ten of SXSW. Her graceful performance is one I can't wait to experience again.

Over at Antone's on 5th Street, the queues to watch Lil Yachty were brutally long. The Atlanta native's spent the past year forging his very own distinct path in the rap game. The self-styled bubblegum trap artist has become the face of Nautica, accused of blasphemy for labeling the Biggie Smalls as, "overrated", and appeared in a Sprite & Target ad with Lebron James and Carly Rae Jepsen. For the entire show there was an air of uncomfortable tension between Yachty and the audience. The 19-year-old seemed irritated by the lack of crowd participation. However, the fans shouted the exact same complaints to Yachty as he appeared to go through the motions, standing still and blandly mumbling the lyrics from a string of hits. He repeatedly told attendees to "turn up" and asked was everyone on promethazine? This animosity eventually spilled over before the final song when a fan shouted, "You got no energy nigga!" This led to a tirade from the furious emcee. "Yeah, shut your ass up nigga. Suck my dick nigga, how about that?" He screamed. "Bitch ass nigga, what's up?"

The incident lasted only 30 seconds, but it was the most animated Yachty had been all night. Before leaving the stage he apologised to the crowd, and reiterated that he is all about positivity. Yachty is a true enigma of the music business, sporting rainbow coloured grills and little liquorice red dreadlocks. If you had to judge him solely on his performance last night, you'd be left wondering, 'what's all the fuss about?'

At sidewinder, the New York duo Diet Cig were in sparkling form. Wearing a pair of fluffy blue bauble earrings and her trademark shorts, Alex Luciano, danced and high kicked her way through the indie-pop laced set. She apologised for her scratchy voice, noting it was karma stemming from her theft of a garden gnome at last year's SXSW, and of course, doing fifteen shows in five days takes its toll on any musician. The 21-year-old was also in a very confessional mood, revealing that she had just watched the video of Lenny Kravitz's dick exposure after his trouser's ripped on stage. Alex mused that her sore throat was something she wanted to deal with as stylishly as Lenny dealt with his accidental cock flash.

At Barracuda, Black Lips thrilled a packed afternoon crowd. The infamous Atlanta band have garnered a notorious reputation for being "merry" while performing, regularly making out in between songs and vomiting on stage. Possibly it was a bit early in the day, but the quartet were relatively tame considering their notoriety. They played an energetic gig with plenty of previews of their upcoming LP.

Over the i35 highway at Hotel Vegas, the grunge inspired Creepoid played in the setting afternoon sun. Pink haired vocalist/bassist Anna Troxell commanded the stage as the four-piece enthralled an exuberant audience. Guitarist Sean Miller totally immersed himself in his performance, shining bright as he playing rampant distorted riffs. As with so many daytime showcases, they come and go far too quickly.

To witness Rag'n'Bone Man once was a pleasure, to see him twice in five hours was a god send. And it's the Lord we have to thank as the singer's second gig of the night took place a St. David's Church. The all seated affair was equally as mesmerising as his first show. With bibles positioned strategically on every wooden bench, the 31-year-old unleashed his inner preacher to the intimate church attendees. Listening to the Brighton singer in such an atmospheric venue, there was a true feeling of "there's no one else I'd rather be watching right now."

 

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