NPR Music hosted a music showcase March 14 at Stubbs in Austin, Texas to promote Slingshot, their spotlight channel for up-and-coming musicians.
SXSW festival-goers crowded the indoor stage while onlookers observed from the balcony above as the venue reached maximum capacity before the first band took the stage.
Liz Bolmer said this was her second time attending SXSW and that this was her first time back in Austin since she moved to Atlanta, Georgia a few years ago.
“When I left, I knew I wanted to come back someday and (SXSW) seemed like right time to visit,” Bolmer said.
Bolmer said she was drawn to the showcase because of the variety of performances. Five bands and artists performed throughout the night, giving way to a wide range of genres being showcased, from rock to rap.
Folk-rock band Mt. Joy emerged on the scene in January 2017 following the release of three singles, which took-off and quickly became popular. Shortly thereafter the band released its first self-titled album, “Mt. Joy,” and took to the road touring alongside The Shins and The Head and The Heart, also making appearances at festivals such as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
The band’s music is full of smooth, melodic guitar riffs coupled by passionate, soothing vocals. Concert goers swayed along to the music throughout the set, sining along with the tunes the knew. Mt. Joy closed out the performance with the trending song “Silver Lining;” the song’s official music video was released last week.
This orchestral pop piano-violin duo captivated the audience with their striking and powerful melodies and highly active stage performance. Gracie (piano, lead vocals) and Rachel (violin, vocals) met in high school in Berkley, CA. After discovering their musical compatibilities and deciding to collaborate, they moved to Brooklyn where they turned their loft into a home and music studio.
They took the stage with Gracie dressed in white and Rachel dressed in black, an iconic symbol for the duo.
“We started to realize that there is a dance and duality that is kind of dark and what that can mean in an emotional context,” Gracie said. “Like if there’s a battle in your mind. It’s kind of like the music we are trying to speak to, so how we can use our bodies to tell that story. It’s using extremes to make a statement.”
Gracie and Rachel seem to feed off of one another’s energy while performing, something they credit to having known each other and working together for so long.
It is nearly impossible not to groove along with Hembree’s lively, stuck-in-your-head hooks. This Kansas city rock band incorporates subtle hints of pop melodies to create catchy songs sure to get anyone bopping along.
The five member, all male band knocked out the night with the popular song “Holy Water.” Concert goers hollered and yelled when the lead singer, Issac, jumped on the drum set to top off an epic finale.
With family roots in the Dominican Republic and growing up performing in a Spanish Baptist congregation, Liz Brasher brings a unique twist to her blues influenced americana style. This Memphis based artist played simple, rhythmic tunes with her guitar, but her powerful, soulful voice filled the room with lyrics of relatable human moments.
Hip hop artist WebsterX finished out the night as the only rapper on the evening’s music bill. Sam Ahmed is the Milwaukee based rapper known as WebsterX who rose to fame after his “Doomsday” music video released in 2015. His latest album “Daymares” dropped in March 2017.
With pulsing beats and poetic lyrics, listeners lost themselves in this experimental artist’s intense flow. Throughout his performance WebsterX encouraged audience members to jump, saying that “no matter your race, gender or age, we can all jump together.” His high energy performance peaked during his closing song when he jumped into the crowd and engaged directly with his fans.