AUSTIN, Texas — The theme of this week at
For those who stuck it out, though, a few fine sets were to be had. Their blend of violence and soul seemed an appropriate wrap-up to a week dominated by heart-rending news.
SZA performed with Lamar during his headlining
SZA is an implicit female counterpoint to TDE's dude-heavy roster. Her radiant vocals, coupled with these stellar ambient slow jams, will open up a whole new world of musical dialogue for the label. Even though she had to stop one song after feedback issues swamped the stage, when her band played it a second time, it hit harder. She's the next star on the label, and if there's a stronger crop of music coming out of any label in any city on the planet, I haven't heard it.
Back on 6th Street, the L.A. noise-rap combo clipping made a blustery case of its own. The band came from out of nowhere to a Sub Pop deal and immediate ubiquity around town. It's an enticing pitch — think Wolf Eyes or Einsturzende Neubauten fronted by a limber wordsmith like Busdriver or Nocando, with a bit more of a backbeat. Death Grips comparisons will abound, but clipping is at once more traditionally hip-hop and more orthodox noise band at once.
The crowd at 512 seemed split on the band. A lot of rap heads rushed the stage during an opening a cappella when it was clear they were dealing with a total pro in frontman Daveed Diggs. But their productions — bit-crushed harshness with intervening sub-bass and kick drum — divided the room. Many fans up front seemed to feel it in their marrow and freak out for it. Others split for the bar at the blast of feedback.
There's a lot of promise there, but with mainstream rap already plenty noisy and weird, they might have veered too far into plain antagonism. It's easy to make an insane ruckus with a bank of effects pedals. The best noise bands know open space is even more important.
The singer-songwriter Erika Anderson, who performs as
Tracks from her latest album, "The Future's Void," ably incorporated heavy synths into her I-wear-sunglasses-for-my-midnight-indoor-showcase sense of impenetrable, must-watch cool.
Though Anderson was obviously fighting off a cold, her set heaved with distorted violins, reverb-soaked drum samples and her own dispatches from the front lines of desperate, burned-out young America. The highlight, though, was her centerpiece single "California," which needed little more than a single drone to set its mood of small-town weirdo camaraderie.
"Gimme the places, I'll give you the names / Wasted away all alone on the plains / What's it like to be small-town and gay / [Expletive] it baby, I know you'll never change."
As she sang it, she tied her microphone cable around her neck in a noose. It looked like death but felt like life.