As 2014's South By Southwest approached the conclusion of yet another phenomenal display of music and culture from around the world, there was still a major event to be had that we were itching to experience all week. Venturing across the river and away from the traffic and masses encircling downtown Austin is Emo's, the Live Music Capital's legendary venue that was chosen for Saturday night's second annual Ray-Ban x Boiler Room SXSW Showcase. Boasting a diverse lineup of first-rate music from the likes of DJ Mustard to Four Tet, the attendants of the show and online viewers of the event's livestream knew they were in for a major treat.
Leading off the night was Boiler Room mainstay and the host and MC of the night, Gaslamp Killer. No one vibes better with the crowd than the GLK, whose charismatic energy and diverse music taste kept the crowd in beaming spirits throughout his set. The Brainfeeder DJ/producer brought the SXSW crowd into a vibing communal ambience right away, taking us around the world with dance beats hailing from Bombay to Syria, rounded out by Afghani funk and local instrumental hip-hop, which reinforced the feeling of what we all truly love: the spirit of music.
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Setting up next to Gaslamp Killer's vinyl decks an hour into the show was Just Blaze. The Brooklyn artist hopped into the mix and provided a remarkable complement to Gaslamp Killer's presence. The two performed an entirely unrehearsed, back-to-back set that stretched across genres including trap, garage, hip-hop, and world, which were perfectly harmonized with classic sing-alongs like Kanye West's "Dark Fantasy." The two even shared a few entertaining minutes each on the drum set, and ended their set with an impressive, yet comical beat-boxing duet.
Following up the GLK x Just Blaze performance seemed to be no easy task, but as house legends Omar-S and Julio Bashmore took the stage, we were reminded the star-studded night had only just begun. Julio Bashmore provided classic UK club beats, which were blended beautifully with the minimalist underground vibes from Detroit's Omar-S.
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With both DJ/producers humbly sharing the stage, the hour-long performance brought the crowd deep into that familiar Boiler Room ambience. But as Gaslamp Killer grabbed the mic to reconnect with the crowd, the MC introduced what may contend as one of the dirtiest sets in Boiler Room history.
"Mustard on the beat" rang through the speakers and DJ Mustard took over the decks. The West Coast producer is currently at the top of the game in the hip-hop world, and you would be hard-pressed to listen to the radio without hearing one of his chart-topping records. With his entourage behind him, Mustard let it be known that he was ready to party. Playing hits from the likes of Tyga, Ty Dolla $ign, Young Jeezy, Mac Dre, and teasing us with sure-fire hits from YG's upcoming album, DJ Mustard hit home with a crowd that got more energized with every track selection.
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Following Mustard's historical Boiler Room set was up-and-coming pop/R&B singer Tinashe, who performed a string of songs that included the Mustard-produced "2 On" featuring Schoolboy Q. The 21-year-old looked and performed like a future star, and we will be sure to be on the lookout for what she has in store for us in 2014.
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As the Ray-Ban x Boiler Room showcase crossed the midway point, things started to not proceed exactly as the eager SXSW crowd was expecting. Mike Will Made It, another producer who's spitting out radio hits left and right, made a surprise visit and took over the decks after Tinashe.
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Mike Will had the spotlight for about 30 minutes, and his entourage enthusiastically pumped up the crowd with every track and threw innumerable amounts of his Been Trill mixtape into the crowd. Ending his set after playing half of the 2x platinum "23," Mike Will made his exit. With some of the crowd scratching their heads, the always well-received Gaslamp Killer came back out and vibed with the audience as the Emo's staff setup for the next artist. Within moments the crowd knew what was next, and Future's name was being chanted throughout the venue.
As Future's crew held up four life-size cutouts of the rapper, which highlighted the April 22nd release of his highly-anticipated album Honest, Emo's was having technical difficulties following Mike Will's performance. After a few tries, Future's DJ was unable to get through even a few seconds of a song before the sound cut out. Future, standing tall and clad in red attire with bleached dreadlocks, was on the stage no longer than 10 minutes before his frustration caused him to leave the stage and not return. Gaslamp Killer did his best to tame the unrest of the crowd, but attendants seemed to expect more from the rapper they waited all week to see, and the boos rang out from all corners.
The negativity lasted only a short time, however. As the clock neared 12:30AM in Austin, TX, the crowd shifted their focus and chanted the name of the beloved UK electronic DJ/producer Four Tet. The last artist left on the billing, Four Tet watched humbly from the side of the stage as the sound crew worked hard to issue their final fixes.
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As he approached the decks, the London-born DJ let out a shy smile as the Emo's crowd welcomed him to the stage, as if he was the only artist they wanted to see the entire week. After shaking hands and high-fiving fans in his vicinity, Four Tet was ready to save the night, and the crowd grew silent, ready to watch the genius at work.
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Rarely looking up from his work station, Four Tet played a beautiful and harmonic blend of UK garage, folktronica, and unique club beats highlighted by his own remix of Ellie Goulding's "Burn" that did what music is supposed to do - make people dance, enjoy the present moment, and forget their worries. His hour and a half set was concluded by an erupting applause from the Boiler Room crowd, and the ever-modest Four Tet took in the response with a delightfully huge smile on his face.
The Ray-Ban x Boiler Room SXSW Showcase didn't proceed exactly as scheduled, but what memorable night does? As Gaslamp Killer declared, "if you're here right now, then you know what the f*** is up." Each set was an unforgettable display of some of the best talent in the world, smattered with large and amicable personalities, a crowd that knew, respected, and loved music, and an atmospheric and unifying energy that lingered throughout the night into the next morning. Ray-Ban x Boiler Room provided everything necessary for a satisfying end to an amazing week with an incredible lineup hosted by a legendary venue, and the audience capitalized and made the last night of SXSW their own.