Dawn Richard, Ezra Furman and Tayla Parx at Container Bar was one of our favorite SXSW moments so far
We're not all vampires. South by Southwest's adjacent day party scene is a vibrant part of the annual spring festival season. Oftentimes, these by-RSVP showcases are great opportunities to catch SXSW acts in a more laidback setting, or to see some bands not actually on the official lineup.
One of our favorites set up shop again as SXSW returned to in-person performances: the Collide party at Container Bar on Rainey Street, presented by Dr. Martens. We swung by for the party's first day on March 16. Out of the three acts we caught, all are worthy of your time next time you get the chance. Here's who we saw.
"Power to trans youth!" rock singer Furman, who is transgender, said on Wednesday afternoon before launching into a particularly surging song. "Gonna get angry now."
Furman, a stalwart name in indie-rock and the musician behind the soundtrack for Netflix show "Sex Education," turned out a dynamic set at Container Bar. "Psalm 151," written about refugees, was gorgeously melancholy in a "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" way. Elsewhere, Furman either sang like she was remembering deep pain or entering a rock fugue state.
"This is rock & roll. (Expletive) you, Greg Abbott," she said before shredding across the stage, her hair blown into a state of distress.
"We're Ezra Furman, and thank you for paying any attention to us at all," she said.
You want to talk about dynamism at SXSW? Dallas-born Parx is a songwriter to the stars, with credits on Ariana Grande's "Thank U Next" and "High Hopes" by Panic at the Disco. So, you know she knows a hook,
For her first in-person show back, she said, Parx served up her own kinetic, catchy pop/R&B tunes. "It's rude not to stare," she sang on the song "Stare," and fair. Parx is an undeniably great performer with a voice that does exactly what she needs it to.
With two pink-and-green-clad dancers, a tropical jumpsuit and a cactus-shaped mic stand, Parx treated late-afternoon comers to songs like the standout "Dirt," a smooth-and-easy earworm. She said several times after songs that earned raves from the crowd that those tracks just earned themselves spots on her forthcoming album. Give us the album, Tayla!
Listen, Dawn Richard doesn't need our help. The former Danity Kane member is a legend to the ones who know, and her slinky, stylish brand of electro-dance music fits onto whatever playlist you've got going for a night out. (We recommend the sexy "Bussifame.")
On Wednesday, Richard closed down the Dr. Martens stage at golden hour by proving that she's a live performer to be reckoned with.
(Brief note before we get to the good stuff: The sound for her set was woeful, a dirty shame that robbed audiences of hearing anything specific in the songs.)
Richard was decked out in lace-up thigh-high boots and a blazer with intricate silver beading. Clutching a Lady Gaga-style disco stick mic, she put her whole self into the set. Quads got a workout, shoulders shook.
It was a true funk groove-down, and despite the sound quality, Richard delivered the vocals. Without another SXSW appearance on the schedule, thank goodness that her fans got to stretch their arms out toward this star for a brief moment.