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SXSW review: Har Mar Superstar shines with soulful transformation

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Eric Pulsifer

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 14, 2014

With the voice of Stevie Wonder and the body of Jon Lovitz, indie R&B singer Har Mar Superstar brought some soul to SXSW last night. At the North Door, he played a dance-inducing set filled with outfit changes, sychronized dance moves and, eventually, some mild stripping to a full house — including actor Macaulay Culkin, who joined Har Mar on stage for some dirty dancing.

You’d be right in thinking this all sounds silly — and Har Mar’s set was funny — but the balding, beer-bellied artist is far from a joke. Recently, Har Mar Superstar swapped out sexed-up satire for (somewhat) serious soul on his latest LP, “Bye Bye 17,” a classy and classic-sounding collection of tunes recorded in Austin.

Thursday night, his years of endless touring showed as he commanded the crowd’s attention and dancing shoes through the horn-filled highlights of his latest album, including “We Don’t Sleep,” “Restless Leg” and “Lady You Shot Me.” While some live brass would have taken the performance to another level, Har Mar and his band had the showmanship to get some booty-shaking out of the crowd.

The band got vocal support from showcase and tour mate Lizzo, a tough and talented Minneapolis emcee perhaps most known at the moment for the song “Paris” recently featured on HBO’s “Girls.” Lizzo also chipped in on the female verse of Har Mar’s tounge-in-cheek (and mouth) indie cult classic “Power Lunch.” As the set rocked on and temperatures crept up, Har Mar shed a belly-hugging glittery gold sweater and tanktop to finish the show topless and drenched in sweat.

On Spoon’s “Small Stakes,” Britt Daniel sings, “I don’t dig the Stripes, but I go for Har Mar.” If you want to go for Har Mar, you catch him tonight at 1 a.m. at the Swan Dive patio and on Saturday at Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party.