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Sizzle & Fizzle: The Best and Worst Shows from a Week at SXSW 

Wednesday, Mar 23 2011


• Oakland rapper Mistah Fab lit up a Wednesday showcase with a grin-widening series of freestyles, including one where he rapped about random objects the audience held up. By the end, the room was full of admiring rappers (hey, Roach Gigz), and our mind was blown.

• New Jersey power trio Screaming Females have a 5-foot-tall dynamo for a singer-guitarist. On Friday in Austin, her voice shot from a bark into howl midsong — right before diving into a wild guitar solo. The band's thunderous, agile set was one of the most rock 'n' roll things we saw all week.

• After a near-riot because of a last-minute stage change, Odd Future proceeded to decimate a Saturday evening crowd with its furious and funny hip-hop. Tyler the Creator jumped off the speakers into the audience. Nearly everyone in the group crowd-surfed. The collective more than lived up to its chaotic reputation.

• Finished off the festival Saturday with a fiery, spectacular set from Austin Latin-funk ensemble Grupo Fantasma, which spun a 1 a.m. crowd into a sweltering dance party. If only this Grammy-winning band could find a way to work "indie" into its name, maybe more people would know about it.


• Sorry, Cults, but being cute doesn't cut it. The Brooklyn band's Wednesday show recalled bouncy, dancey '50s pop, but not well enough to hold our attention.

• Nothing but disappointment in a Friday set from the buzzy one-man act Dirty Beaches, whose show was more like karaoke with props than an actual musical performance. Pro tip: When every instrument is coming out of a boombox onstage, it means you're not doing music right.

Cloud Nothings sounded like a lazier, younger, less funny Blink-182 onstage Thursday. Every tune was fast-tempo power-pop, every vocal was nasally, and all of it felt half-baked.

• Proof that the Kills should never perform in the daytime: The band's Friday set was riddled with technical difficulties. With its beat-heavy blues-rock sounding more like angry bowels after too much barbecue, the members apologized.

For full versions of the above stories and much more about S.F. music, check out All Shook Down, our music blog.

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