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SXSW scene report: Tinashe at the Hype Hotel Thursday night

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Ramon Ramirez

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

The Hype Hotel is working, like it or not. It’s a good look to cater to the young and thirsty—offering two drink tickets at the door, tacos, and billing commodified talent that lubricated patrons will feel nostalgic about in two years. Still, it’s a bad look to prop up a Taco Bell marketing campaign built around free meat…next door to a homeless shelter. That’s just all sorts of Doritos loco.

No matter—it’s a Fader Fort rivaling party surging in its second year. The room is hot for performers that can capture the low-nestled stage’s built in energy. The Hype Hotel’s stage harkens back to the window seat, Times Square MTV place settings of the late ’90s.

Tinashe’s Thursday night Hype showcase nailed it like a barfly playing darts. The SoCal r&b singer drops lightly arranged rubies with sword-swinging attitude. She moves in freely downloadable mixtapes and is at South By Southwest on the strength of her debut single, “2 On.”

Joined onstage by two dynamic, black shirt and pants backup dancers, her 30-minute set delighted with crowded but immaculate choreography. A live drummer added drill sergeant posture to the soft spine ear bud production of cuts from last year’s “Black Water” tape like “Midnight Sun.”

“I started off doing mixtapes, doing the whole thing online,” she bragged with DIY glee. Where she moved with Ciara’s dance moves and charisma, power, polish, Tinashe likewise disarmed with 21-year-old innocence. She’s kind of a goofball in between singing powerful, sex-is-natural lyrics like “grab it from the top just adjusting it.”

Bottom line, Tinashe has Drake-esque vulnerability and angles. She’ll make you chomp the ice in your drink, and then charm with a sudden “Cry Me a River” cover or a call to her “boss” ladies.