Sensory Overload: Columbus Does SXSW

From the March 21, 2013 edition

I spent last week at South by Southwest, a dense, sprawling convergence of logos and live music that infests every conceivable corner of downtown Austin. A bunch of Columbus musicians made the trip too, performing at official SXSW showcases and innumerable unofficial events that spring up in the festival's midst.

Making the biggest splash was Twenty One Pilots, whose gigs included the Spotify House, the Warner Bros. showcase with labelmates Paramore and a prominent role at The Woodies, mtvU's awards ceremony turned music festival. The schizoid pop duo seemed to be everywhere Macklemore and Tegan and Sara were, which is pretty good company in terms of exposure.

Divine Fits, Columbus drummer Sam Brown's band with Spoon's Britt Daniel and Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner, headlined Vice's opening night party and played a riverfront show with The Flaming Lips. Hip-hop trio Fly Union was everywhere too, with double-digit performances including Top Dog Entertainment's showcase with Kendrick Lamar.

More local rappers were there, including Copywrite at the Man Bites Dog Records showcase and a smattering of sets from King Vada and Hodgie Street. Columbus rap promoters AnimalXHouse threw a day party featuring members of Future's Freebandz crew. Jazz combo fo/mo/deep made the trip too.

The city's skronking side was well represented by The Unholy Two's hate-screed bombast at Gerard Cosloy's Can't Stop the Bleeding party. Also making clatter: noisemongering rockers JFK Didn't Even See It Coming and expansive experimentalists Before the Eyewall.

Roots rockers Lydia Loveless and Two Cow Garage, both SXSW veterans, made numerous appearances; Loveless headlined prominent Americana label Bloodshot Records’ showcase. Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriters The Shaw Brothers were around; so were Columbus natives Tim Easton and Megan Palmer, both since relocated.

Speaking of Columbus expats, two were involved in the most talked-about concerts at SXSW. RJD2 opened Justin Timberlake's Myspace Secret Show with ?uestlove, arguably the hottest ticket in town. And Sinkane's Ahmed Gallab appeared during a surprise Usher/Afghan Whigs set at the Fader Fort to perform his DFA Records hit "Runnin'" with Usher on falsetto, the most wonderfully WTF moment of the festival. Gallab claimed it as a victory for Columbus via Facebook, shouting out one of his late, great heroes from this city: "Long live Daymon Dodson.”