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SXSW Live Music Reports: Leon Bridges Brings The Soul; Bully Brings The Grunge

SXSW Live Music Reports: Leon Bridges Brings The Soul; Bully Brings The Grunge

Malik Forté,Dan Casey, and I have been at SXSW 2015 for over a week now and we’re still going strong (that is a lie–Nerdist’s gaming and senior editors are both fine. I am two days deep into a gnarly head cold, even though I have been crushing Zicam and orange juice like a gottdang champ). For the remainder of our time here, we will be seeing more live music than most people see in 6 month’s time and we couldn’t be more stoked about it. Below you’ll find our highlights of the first two days of SXSWMusic. Let’s get into it:

Meishi Smile wowed us with eclectic dance music. 

Dan and I started the festival off right at the Highland Lounge with a highly danceable electronic set from one of Nerdist’s favorite producers, Meishi Smile. Garrett Yim, a multitalented producer and label manager, took the stage and worked his way through some of the material off his most recent LP, LUSTand ended with a surprising fusion of screamo style vocals and soothing beats. Sidenote: Dan very astutely observed that the house DJ at the Highland very closely resembled the kid from Stuart Little.

Shura, sporting an Incredible Hulk t-shirt, warmed an entire club with R&B-inflected electropop. 

I had no idea before catching her live set, but Shura is a total nerd. In addition to donning that sweet, sweet t-shirt, she also compared 6th Street in downtown Austin, the main thoroughfare of SXSW, to The Hunger Games before throwing up three fingers in solidarity with Katniss. She then proceeded to perform very sexy original material as well as a cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”. Like, are you kidding me? Shura is such a winner, and I am looking so forward to a debut album.

Bully eviscerated everyone’s eardums at the Third Man showcase with seriously abrasive and catchy grunge. 

This was my first concert of the day and I couldn’t hear for the rest of the day after catching a mere 20-minute set from the new Nashville-based alt rockers. Offstage, lead singer Alicia Bognanno is cheery and even mildly bubbly, but she transforms altogether when growling out lyrics to Bully’s catalogue. Even more impressive is the fact the she engineers and produces all the group’s music herself. Calling it now, but people will be fawning all over this band very very soon. I already am. Check out their track “Milkman” for a taste of their sound.

Leon Bridges channeled Sam Cooke and performed new tracks from his forthcoming album, full of vintage soul.  

If you close your eyes while listening to up-and-comer Leon Bridges, you will be transported back to the mid-’60s to a time when clothing was tailor-made, cigarettes burned slower, and soul music was just as essential as water and sunlight. When Bridges took the stage at the Spotify House, donning vintage clothing, and strapped his hollow-body electric guitar on, the whole crowd knew we were about to enjoy something truly special. In about a year’s time, we will be as familiar with Leon Bridges as we are with Adele and Sam Smith. Very big things ahead of him, and for good reason. For a sample of his music, check out the excellent, slow burner, “Coming Home”.

Alrighty friends–these were are favorite performances form the first couple of day of SXSWMusic, and we will be sure to keep you posted with all the happenings as we get deeper into the rabbit hole on day three. If you are down here, let us know what acts you have seen that you loved. Or let us know what bands we must see. More from SXSW soon!

Photo credit: Star Tribune

For the latest SXSW music news, be sure to follow us at @NerdistMusic, and tweet at us with #NerdistSXSW

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