Day 6 of SXSW featured some of the most ferocious womxn to ever cross a stage or walk a ballroom floor.
If you read our second feature for March, you know The Tiarras are not a game! As powerful as they are musically, you absolutely must see them live to understand just how much of an effect their music has.
Tori is a powerhouse. Her voice amplified by a microphone in a room made with stellar acoustics is like a barrel blast to the chest. The way she utterly wails on her axe shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows her. But for someone like me who’s seeing her live for the first time, it’s like watching one of the greats in the throes of utter passion. Tiffany looks like playing bass brings her utter bliss. Eyes closed, head tilted toward the sky, she’s in a different zone altogether on her instrument. Then the rock, the backbeat, Sophia. She’s confident, steadfast, a force behind that drumkit. All things combined, The Tiarras actually provided the most electric performance of the week thus far for me.
St. David’s Bethel Hall International Night
SXSW has a long-standing tradition of bringing cultures together. A tradition that’s especially true when it comes to featuring music from East Asian countries. The Hallyu Wave (South Korean entertainment expanded outside of Asia) has become a tsunami in the past five years. The popularity of South Korean culture in Western markets in has more people interested to learn more about the traditions of the peninsula. SXSW has placed itself near the front of the line to embrace, in particular, music from South Korea. Starting with pop and rock acts, then embracing more traditional sounds. This year, St. David’s hosted a showcase of some of the most inventive traditional-fusion music from the country with an all-woman lineup.
Gayageum and geomungo-playing duo dal:um started the evening with an utterly breathtaking performance. Using the traditional stringed instruments to fill Bethel Hall with a wall of sound that left the space ringing long after they finished pounding away at the strings.
Park Jiha provided perhaps the most intricately nuanced rendition of traditional instruments with her saenghwang (bamboo mouth organ) and yanggeum (hammered dulcimer). She even strummed a violin bow against the edge of xylophone keys to fill the space an almost supernatural croon.
Then HAEPAARY ended the South Korean set with the most daring interpretation of traditional music of the festival. Their combination of electronica/techno/jungle with the royal shrine music from the Joseon dynasty (music traditionally only sung by men) was brash, bold, exciting. Truly a magical night for fans of music who love sounds that subvert expectation.
The House of Lepore Presents: The Dirty South Ball
In what was undoubtedly the highlight of the week, the indominable House of Lepore hosted their Dirty South Ball. Led with elegance, authority and grace by Mother MsGirl6, House of Lepore absolutely showed out! Houses from all over the south and southwest (see what they did there?) came to give face, realness and walk for their lives. Take notes, up-and-coming houses in Austin. This is a ball. Several categories ranging from “Runway” to “Realness,” a strict judging committee of Legends (veterans of the house scene) and Mothers and Fathers of various Houses. SXSW was not ready! Though it’s all fun and love, these children did not come to play!
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the ball, though, was just how much solidarity in the community there was. No matter who won, every contestant was there to uplift the culture. Winners and runners-up embraced after each round. With a mighty shout of “TRANS LIVES MATTER!” resounding in the hearts and minds of everyone there, the Dirty South Ball was both spectacle and tribute. A tribute to life, love, freedom!