SXSW, Part 3: Embodying "Geography" with Thao and The Get Down Stay Down

The buzz on the street was to go see Thao at Momo’s on Friday night at SXSW. It was our first SXSW official showcase experience. The event required a SXSW conference badge (which costs about $600!!) or a $10 admission fee. The conference distinguishes the showcases from the “day parties” by booking big names at established venues for the showcases. Arriving early, we discovered an entirely different crowd at the bar. Clad in business casual attires, the badge-holding music industry representatives, major or indie, congregated around the bar while mingling and passing business cards over the music of Austin’s neo-Soul/R&B group T-Bird and The Breaks.

I hovered in the back while gearing up for Thao’s set. I heard a car pulling up in the street and people walking up the fire escape stairs in the back of the building. Thao and I exchanged greetings as she walked through the back of the bar to enter the green room. A total fan girl, I rushed over to the front of the stage to secure a good spot for the show. I met a number of young badge-holding Thao fans who were taking pictures of themselves and transmitting these digital images via their shiny iPhones. Unabashedly I made my way through the increasingly thickening crowd and camped out in front of the center monitor speaker onstage.

Thao and her band The Get Down Stay Down began their set after the announcer introduced them. After the first (new!) song, Thao greeted the crowd. “Good evening. It’s a pleasure to see you. We wore collar shirts for you, except for Willis who prefers the V-neck.” The crowd embraced Thao’s quirky, small-townish humor. Thao took her audience on a profoundly pleasurable ride bellowing out the chorus sections of “Beat (Health, Life and Fire)”. During “Geography”, we fan girls and fan boys in the front row ripped our throats singing parts of the song, while Thao briefly turned away from the mic to listen to our screaming vocals. I took full pleasure in abandoning myself during Thao’s crybreaks making myself believe in the pains of social and emotional distance. It’s been a long time since the last time I dived into a full-fledge vocal participation at a show. Touched by our participation, Thao said, “We were beautiful on that. I think we just made love. That was gorgeous.”

check out other SXSW pics

Another highlight was Thao’s playful reference of Salt ‘N’ Peppa’s “Push It.” As if beat-boxing wasn’t enough, Thao rapped over the beat she set off in our heads, rhyming the verse, “Yo, yo, yo, yo, baby-pop / Yeah, you come here, gimme a kiss / Better make it fast or else I'm gonna get pissed / Can't you hear the music's pumpin' hard like I wish you would? / Now push it.” She made a riot in the crowd.

The band played a full-hour set. But the Thao “Beat” continued to ring in my head for the rest of my Austin trip.

Austin radio station KUT recorded the evening's sets. One can download the live audio recording and view video segments of Thao’s set.


anneba said...

thank you for this! coming up to see her at the black cat on the 17th?

wh said...

thanks for reading the post. I will actually be going to her charlottesville show on the 16th instead of the dc show. Should be great fun tho!