Violent Chaos Simmers On The Final Night Of SXSW

At the last event of a hectic week, a hip hop showcase featuring Saba, AJ Tracey, Jazz Cartier and Denzel Curry nearly descends into bedlam.

Throughout the music portion of South By Southwest the Empire control & garage room hosted a enviable list of talented artists. Rick Ross, Mastodon, Danny Brown, Sleigh Bells, Lil Yachty, The Drums, Talib Kweli, and Cut Chemist all graced one or other of the club's two stages.

On the closing night, the Empire control room held the greatest selection of upcoming aspiring stars. The showcase started positively with rising London grime emcee AJ Tracey, performing at 22:30. The English rapper was one of the most in demand performers of the week, playing a multitude of daytime and night-time showcases. He slowly sauntered on to the stage, with a satchel strapped across his chest. The 'satchel' look was adopted all week by various Grime musicians, seemingly introducing the tracksuit mafia look to a vast amount of uninformed American attendees for the first time. AJ's performance was solid. He wasn't too animated or engaging with the crowd. Unlike so many rappers who need a posse to join them on stage, he had only himself, a DJ and a mic to back him up. He let his flawless breath control, style and relentless bars speak for themselves. For rappers who can't recite 2 lines without a hype man or DJ finishing their sentences, you should be hanging your head in shame in front of the Londoner. Before unleashing his UK hit 'Pasta', AJ told the audience "this one is more for what you Americans like". The addictive tune went down a storm with first time listeners. The room instantly revved up with people bouncing along enthusiastically with the grime peddler's machine gun style delivery. By the end, he'd debuted new material, easily won over the crowd and exposed UK grime to a whole new market.

From North London we moved to the sounds of the West side of Chicago. Saba, who featured on Chance The Rapper's song, 'Everybody's Something', from the 'Acid Rain' mixtape, followed Tracey on the bill. The 22-year-old is certainly a wise head on young shoulders. His latest LP 'Bucket List Project' is a thought provoking journey that reveals many of the horrors of his Chicago neighbourhood, without glorifying the violent lifestyle. Saba is a lively, warm, and engaging figure to watch in the flesh. His catalogue boasts numerous bouncy, up-tempo hits that easily get the crowd moving.

Next up was Jazz Cartier. To be honest, I had very little interest in watching the Canadian rapper and went to get some fresh air for the first half of his gig. I wandered back into the room at the perfect time to witness the last ten minutes of his show. There is a tendency to make it to the Saturday of SXSW and be left disappointed by musicians who literally have nothing else to give. To his credit, Jazz was going all out as if it was his final chance to shine. At first, he grabbed, and began to shake a rickety pole above the edge of the stage which had lights attached to it. Immediately you could see staff members were concerned it would come crashing down, as it didn't look any sturdier than a shower curtain pole. He then bunched the revellers together and asked them to put their palms up to support his weight. With some trepidation he stepped on to the waiting palms and began to walk on the crowd. With his feet balancing on outstretched hands, he grabbed an exposed beam on the ceiling, flipped, and wrapped his legs around it. Jazz Cartier, now hanging upside down over the audience, continued rapping the chorus to the track 'Dead or Alive', "they want me dead or alive, i'm just tryna survive, they want me dead or alive". Again, Club staff were visibly concerned that someone was going to get injured.

After a minute of hanging upside down suspended from the ceiling, the Toronto emcee grasped the beam with one hand and let his legs dangle down above the adoring punters. He again asked the attendees to put forth their palms, so he could use them as stepping stones around the mosh-pit. At this point, people were shaking their heads in disbelief. It was crazy, it was exciting, it was something a lot of fans had never witnessed before at a concert. However, by this time, Empire staff had had enough. Clearly worried somebody was going to get hurt, a staff member a little too over eagerly yanked Jazz from the Christ like experience he was enjoying, and pulled him down to the floor, where he landed feet first. Annoyed at his set being interrupted, pushing and swinging arms ensued from several people. The lights went on, the soundboard was covered up to protect it from flying drinks, and the music was instantly cut off. Staff rushed into the room from every angle to subdue the situation. A little whirlwind of people continued pushing and jostling, until eventually, the Canadian rapper was pinned down and wrapped up in an anaconda hold at the side of the stage. I personally cannot say if there were punches thrown. I saw no blood, no injuries, but very haggard looking Empire workers with an expression of "we really don't need this shit on the last night, after a grueling week of dealing with drunk assholes". Jazz Cartier was then fucked out on the street through the emergency exit door.

That should have been that. Lights on, music off, it's the universal translation of get out of the club. However, to the credit of the venue, they announced that the last act Denzel Curry, would be allowed to perform. The Floridian rapper then took the mic and told the crowd "we're gonna keep it positive, no violence, let's have a good time".

Indeed, the 21-year-old kept his word. His frenetic presence took over Empire shortly after 1am. Having seen Denzel earlier in the week, I can state that his boundless energy had not dwindled in the intervening days. Dripping with sweat after a few songs, Curry whipped off his shirt to try and cool down. His DJ soon followed suit. As the Floridian had promised, a positive set ensued, apart from towards the end of his performance when one of his hype-men tried to grab the same shakey pole above the edge of the stage. As well as, a bizarre moment when the rapper was presumably told this is your last song. Curry's DJ leapt off the podium, angrily marched towards the sound booth, before Denzel grabbed him in the middle of the crowd, around the waist and told him "we ain't gonna do that, we ain't gonna do that". What followed the power to the stage being cut was the Carol City emcee spitting bars, a cappella, in the middle of the breathless audience. The diminutive figure was instantly swallowed up in a sea of fans trying to capture the scene for their Snapchat timeline. As the lights came on, illuminating the dark intimate room, his growly, gruff voice could easily be heard, even if the Floridian couldn't be clearer seen. After a verse or two, he climbed back on to the stage to a standing ovation.

SXSW is a melting pot of every type of music fan. Stand next to the right person and you might be offered a conversation, a joint, a ride, or a bump. As one frat-bro announced in a graffiti strewn toilet, "I didn't come this close to the Mexican border not to try their coke".

South By may have shipped a fair amount of criticism this year, Donald Trump may have had more of an influence than any other American President previous, nonetheless, SXSW still feels relevant, it still feels necessary, and it still provides a massive platform to all artists to speak their minds freely and express their personal beliefs regardless of race, gender, religion or political leanings. To my mind, in 2017, any event that encourages such inclusiveness is more vital than ever.

 

Related Articles

Live Report: SXSW 2017 Day One – Girlpool, Pharmakon, Thee MPVs & Boogairns

The smaller acts loom large on the eve of South By Southwest.

Read More

Donald Trump’s Effect On SXSW 2017

As the immigration issue rages across the U.S. even the world’s biggest music showcase isn’t immune.

Read More

Donald Trump Reviews Harry Potter & Game Of Thrones

Discover classic book reviews of 'Charlie and The Chocolate Factory' and 'The Great Gatsby' through a Donald Trump filter.

Read More

Hozier, Katy Perry, Eva Longoria & More React To The Third Trump Vs Clinton Debate

Celebrities tweeted up a storm during last night's debate

Read More

Eminem Releases Donald Trump Diss Trak

Detroit's favourite son is back taking aim at Republicans

Read More

The Greatest Bob Dylan Covers

From Jimi Hendrix, Adele, The Byrds, Rage Against The Machine and Jeff Buckley.

Read More

The Top Bob Dylan Videos

To celebrate all things Dylan today we are digging up the best clips of the folk legend.

Read More

Read The First Snippet Of Zayn Malik's New Book

Zayn admits what he finally got to write about as a solo artist.

Read More

Live Review: Hard Working Class Heroes 2016

Every year, we wait and wait – and then, as the final bead of sweat drips from our brows, alas, it’s finished.

Read More

EXCLUSIVE: Saramai Premiere New Video 'Trees'

The Co. Meath trio share their stunning new song, and Hot Press is delighted to unveil the accompanying debut video.

Read More

Justin Bieber Comes To Madame Tussaud's London

Cosy up to the most accommodating Biebs there will ever be

Read More

Malahide Crime Writing Festival Speakers Announced

Clear your diaries and keep your eyes peeled.

Read More

Jaime Dornan's Father Makes Surprise Cameo On The Fall

The Fifty Shades Of Grey star had no idea about the role

Read More

Radiohead Premiere New Video 'The Numbers', Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson

The Hollywood filmmaker is famous for directing There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights.

Read More

John Blek Announces Solo Irish Tour

The singer plays The Sprit Store in Dundalk, October 6.

Read More

Justin Bieber Pledges Support For Medical Marijuana Legalisation

“I’m going to be talking more about this." So says Biebs regarding the weed debate.

Read More

Kanye West To Increase Security Around Kim Kardashian

The move follows the robbery of his his wife in Paris

Read More

Rihanna Tweets Support For Haiti's Hurricane Victims

The storm hit the tiny, impoverished island yesterday

Read More

Kid Cudi Checks Himself Into Rehab

The rapper and actor wrote that he's suffering from 'depression and suicidal urges'.

Read More

Watch: James Vincent McMorrow Performs 'Rising Water' On Later with Jools Holland

The Irish singer plays a show in Galway tonight.

Read More

Listen: Lady Gaga Previews New Song 'Just Another Day'

The singer played a snippet of her new tune on Ryan Seacrest's radio show

Read More

Zayn Malik's Anxiety Postpones Proposed World Tour

It appears Zayn fans will have to wait a little bit longer to see him performing live

Read More

Watch: Thirty Seconds To Mars Release A Trailer For Their Upcoming Concert Film

Exciting news for Jared Leto fans

Read More

Emilia Clarke Is Back Filming Game Of Thrones In Belfast

The Mother Of Dragons posted a picture from the docks

Read More

Supergroup Gone Is Gone Share New Song 'Sentient'

This is the first single from the band's upcoming album

Read More

Kate Bush Releases Before The Dawn Live Album

If you weren't lucky enough to attend one of her 22 sold-out concerts in London in 2014, you can now experience it on vinyl or CD.

Read More

Watch Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool Special Edition Unboxing Video

Avid fans and collectors will be dying to get their hands on this precious release

Read More

King Kong Company Unveil New Video 'Donkey Jaw'

The visuals certainly mess with your equilibrium

Read More

David Bowie's Legacy Album Gets November Release

From 'Life On Mars?' to 'Lazarus' to 'Let's Dance', all of the Thin White Duke's hits are included

Read More

Stream Danny Brown's New Album Atrocity Exhibition

The record features guest verses from Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, AB-Soul and B-Real

Read More

Listen: Pete Doherty Releases New Song 'I Don't Love Anyone (But You're Not Just Anyone)'

The singer also announces he is bringing out a new album

Read More

Adele, Justin Bieber, Coldplay & Beyonce All Nominated For The MTV EMAs

The MTV European Music Awards are taking place in Rotterdam this year

Read More

Leonardo DiCaprio Reveals The Trailer For His Climate Change Doc Before The Flood

Barack Obama, Pope Francis, John Kerry and many more feature in the film

Read More

Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie Documentary Will Not Get Irish Release

Ireland's current blasphemy laws are apparently to blame for the decision

Read More

Keywest For Dublin's Olympia Theatre

Ireland's biggest indie act announce new dates for 2017

Read More

Conor McGregor Versus Eddie Alvarez Announced For UFC 205

The very first UFC event in New York City has finally received the big name fight it deserved

Read More

Ticketmaster Pledge Support For The Musical Youth Foundation

Children interested in being involved in music are receiving a fantastic boost

Read More

World Premiere Of Frank McGuinness' Musical Donegal At The Abbey Theatre

One of Ireland's leading playwrights brings his latest creation to Dublin

Read More

Donald Trump's Presidential Debate Disparaged by Trevor Noah & Seth Meyers

The potential next American Presidential gave the late-night shows plenty to dissect

Read More

Moby & The Void Pacific Choir Announce Album

The pair's debut record will be released in October

Read More

Kaskade Announce Show At The Academy Dublin

Tickets go on sale Friday, September 30

Read More

Hvmmingbyrd EP Launch At Dublin's Grand Social

Join Deborah and Suzette on Thursday, September 29, for some musical delights

Read More

Mrs. Brown For Dublin's 3Arena & Belfast's SSE Arena

Brendan O'Carroll is back with the boys

Read More

Glen Hansard & Friends Host Mic Christopher Night In Vicar Street

Glen Hansard, Bronagh Gallagher and many more will perform on the night

Read More

Matthew McConaughey Wants His Family To Speak Irish

The McConaughey kids might find themselves in the Gaeltacht next year

Read More

Bruce Springsteen Chooses His Five Favourite Springsteen Songs

You get no prizes for guessing that 'Born To Run' made the list

Read More

Enemies Announce Vicar Street Concert

Tickets go on sale this Friday, 23 September at 9am

Read More

Jon Bellion For The Academy Dublin

Tickets go on sale Friday, September 23

Read More

RTÉ 2fm Nominates Hare Squead For Eurosonic 2017

The Dublin pop-R&B trio are heading for the biggest European music showcase of the year

Read More

Seamus Heaney Centre To Open In Derry

There will be a four-day festival of arts to celebrate the opening of the poet's HomePlace

Read More

Mel Gibson & Sean Penn Filming In Dublin

The Hollywood actors return to Ireland for their new project

Read More

Watch: Adele On The Break Up Of Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt

Even the British superstar was shocked by the split

Read More

Bono: "Donald Trump Is Potentially The Worst Idea That Ever Happened To America."

U2's frontman didn't mince words when discussing the next potential president of the United States

Read More

Jack Garratt On Chicago's Gun Violence Epidemic

Jack Garratt's indie-electro pop has earned him plenty of plaudits, but he's not resting on his laurels. The Buckinghamshire native tells Ed Murphy about moving across the pond, his total admiration for the current Pokémon GO craze, and the out of control gun violence that is occurring in his adopted new hometown of Chicago.

Read More

Benjamin Francis Leftwich For Dublin's Whelans

Tickets go on sale September 22 at 9am

Read More

Jim Carrey Being Sued For Wrongful Death After Irish Girlfriend's Suicide

Cathriona White died from a drug overdose on September 28, 2015

Read More

Listen: Warpaint Release New Song 'Whiteout'

The quartet drop another teaser from their upcoming third album

Read More

Get Ready For Another Epic Battle In Game Of Thrones Series 7

The Mother Of Dragons shared some interesting teasers at last night's Emmy Awards

Read More

Travi$ Scott Hospitalised For Dehydration

The rapper's manager posts a picture of the Houston musician lying in hospital bed

Read More

Watch: Florida University Marching Band Performs Kanye West Song

The band played a sterling rendition of 'Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1'

Read More

Watch: Bill Murray Bartends At Son's NY Pub, Drinks Tequila & Sings A Rolling Stones Song

The legendary actor is no stranger to getting behind the bar and serving drinks

Read More

Frightened Rabbit Announce Irish Tour

The Scottish rockers are coming to eight cities across the country.

Read More

Watch: Matt Damon Teases Emmys 2016 Host Jimmy Kimmel

The ongoing "feud" continues to play out eight years on

Read More

Bruce Springsteen Opens Up About His Battles With Depression

The New Jersey singer's autobiography is coming out at the end of the month

Read More

Watch: Stranger Things Kids Perform 'Uptown Funk' At The Emmys

Eleven, Dustin and Caleb kept the crowd entertained

Read More

Pixie Geldof To Play Ruby Sessions In Dublin

The singer will be previewing tracks from her upcoming album

Read More

Stream: Conway & Prodigy Hell Still On Earth EP

The grimmest NY emcee returns with a few stomping new tunes

Read More

Watch: Stranger Things Star Eleven On Colbert

The charming Millie Bobby Brown chats about sharks, the dark, and bungalows.

Read More

Watch: Kings Of Leon Release 'Waste a Moment' Video

Blindfolds and suburban mayhem pervade the quartet's latest visual offering

Read More

Tupac Shakur & The Bloody History Of U.S. Hip-Hop

On the 20th anniversary of the rapper's death, we delve into the Hot Press archives to bring you a piece about the iconic artist.

Read More

South Park Teaser Tackles The Current American National Anthem Protests

Matt Stone and Trey Parker focus on the recent NFL protests

Read More

Watch: Tupac Shakur Biopic All Eyez On Me Trailer Drops

Another teaser trailer has dropped on the rapper's 20th anniversary

Read More

DJ Shadow Is Dropping An Endtroducing Remix Album

We are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of the landmark LP

Read More

Tangerine Dream Cover The Stranger Things Theme

The iconic intro gets a dash of electro infusion

Read More

Some Big Changes Are Coming To Twitter Next Week

Say goodbye to links and pictures eating into that 140 character limit

Read More

Watch: The Fifty Shades Darker Teaser Trailer Is Released

The sullen sex symbol Billionaire is back

Read More

Watch: Fan Tries To Scale Kanye West's Levitating Stage

Unfortunately, things didn't go to plan for the wannabe spiderman

Read More

Watch: Róisín Murphy Premieres New Video 'Whatever'

Róisín creates a world of emojis

Read More

Shaq Parodies Kanye West's 'Fade' Video

The former basketball star does his best Teyana Taylor impression

Read More

Watch: Major Lazer & Justin Bieber Premiere 'Cold Water' Video

Beliebers of the world take a deep breath, your boy is back

Read More

David Bowie's Last Recordings To Be Released In October

Three new songs will be coming out next month

Read More

Gala TV Rising Star Nominees Announced By IFTA

Online voting for Angela Scanlon, Kevin McGahern, Vogue Williams, Darren Kennedy, Máire Treasa Ní and Al Porter begins at 9m tomorrow

Read More

Adam Buxton Brings His 'David Bowie Special' To Vicar St

The comedian arrives in Dublin this November

Read More

Check Out The Pictures Of Beyonce's Soul Train Themed Bday

P. Diddy was rocking a fetching '70s hairstyle for Queen Bey's birthday

Read More

Saint Sister For Dublin’s Christchurch Cathedral

The enigmatic atoms-folk duo are returning to the Capital

Read More

PICNIC IS HERE: Áine Cahill On Electric Picnic

The 21-year-old tells Hot Press what to expect from her set, some of her favourite acts playing and how she's ready for all conditions!

Read More

PICNIC IS HERE: Gavin Glass On Electric Picnic

Radio Nova's jewel in the crown tells Hot Press all about what to expect from his set, some of his favourite acts playing and travelling to EP with a new bundle of joy.

Read More

PICNIC IS HERE: Overhead, The Albatross On Electric Picnic

Ben Garrett chats to Hot Press about what to expect from their set, some of his favourite acts he's seen over the years and a few funny EP stories.

Read More

PICNIC IS HERE: Sample Answer On Electric Picnic

Maurice O'Connor chats to Hot Press what to expect from his set, some of his favourite acts playing and his excitement attending EP for the first time.

Read More

PICNIC IS HERE: The Strypes On Electric Picnic

Evan Walsh tells Hot Press all about what to expect from their set, some of his favourite acts playing and a few funny EP stories.

Read More

Action Bronson Gives Away Kitchen Appliances During NY Gig

Mr. 'Fuck That's Delicious' dishes out some culinary goodies to fans

Read More

Kanye West's 'Fade' Choreographer Explains The Cat Face Ending

Joe Blaze gives us an into Yeezy's creative process

Read More

Book Review: Age Of Bowie

The Age of Bowie, by Paul Morley (Simon & Schuster)

Read More

Album Review: King Kong Company, King Kong Company

Beastly giants produce chest-beating anthems.

Read More

Sunday Live Report Longitude: HamsandwicH, Christine & The Queens, All Tvvins, Rusangano Family

"You could be whatever you want, you could be a bicycle, there's no judgement here." So says Christine & The Queens to her adoring fans at Longitude 2016.

Read More
 

Advertise With Us


For information including benefits, key facts, figures and rates for advertising with Hot Press, click below

Advertise

Find us elsewhere