Saturday! The last day of SXSW is bittersweet. At the same time you’re begging for more rest yet also for the festival to continue. I’d made it through the ups and downs of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but I was ready for a perfect Saturday. I had Prince tickets to look forward to, but I also had the Rachael Ray and Perez Hilton parties. Yes, my SXSW would end on a high note.
It was a hot day, but I wasn’t letting that stop me from waiting in the sun for the Rachael Ray party: a party that promised not only 3 stages of awesome music, but lots of delicious food that the celebrity chef had put together with the special collaboration of artists like OK Go. Rachael Ray had put together an awesomely diverse lineup for her lineup. She had rising acts like the young rockers in The 1975, more seasoned and hilarious rockers like Eagles of Death Metal, rising rap stars Macklemore & Ryan Lewis who once again had a posse of guest singers with them and she even had the legendary Kenny Loggins who played not one set, but two. The first was a more Americana set with the Blue Sky Riders and the second was a solo set featuring his classic hits that seem to appear in pretty much every wedding movie ever created. As for the food, Rachael Ray had a menu that featured sliders, pork tacos, creamed corn and more.
From the Rachael Ray Party I next ventured across town for a very different party. Ray’s party was more about Americana folk rock and classic rock music — very much a “day” party. My next party was very much an “evening” party and featured an overarching musical style of dance and electro pop. It was the Perez Hilton party and the Perez Hilton crew had this show thing down to a science. I had seen plenty of parties promise a lot of acts and quick set turn overs only to be unhinged by the slightest technical trouble. Not the Perez Party. Nothin fell behind here and there was even a DJ to cover up the set changes in between performers. The only downside to this being such a tightly run ship was that it meant no encores for any of the truly stand out performers (the audience begged Capital Cities to return, but their stage was already half torn down before they had even finished exiting the stage). Foxes started the night off with beautiful vocals that were akin to Bat for Lashes. The next act, Kerli, got people dancing, but I was a little turned off by how gimmicky her whole performance felt. Angel Haze stood out for her confidence and promise to take over the world before launching into her rap and Charli XCX got the crowd revved up with her throwback electro pop. But Capital Cities hands down stole the night with their suave sounds and brass enhancements. The group already stood out for being one of the few non-female centric acts at this party, and then they also dressed to impress with neon blazers and sunglasses. After playing their big hit, “Safe & Sound,” the audience begged for an encore — the first act at the Perez Party to receive such a request, but sadly the tight time slots would not allow this.
I left the Perez Party early to go to one of the most eagerly anticipated SXSW performances of the week: the Samsung Closing Day party featuring Prince and A Tribe Called Quest. The show was at the newly remodeled La Zona Rosa, which meant that it was an intimate show without a bad view line in the house. It was great to see A Tribe Called Quest back on stage together and having fun. I can’t imagine too many of the audience were that familiar with them, though it didn’t really matter as the crowd did a good job obeying commands like “jump.”
Seeing Prince on a stage that small with a full orchestra and backing singers was truly spectacular to see. The guy is suave and still youthful despite having been performing for decades. He performed not just one encore, but five. He also went through several outfit changes throughout the evening — even rocking velvet suits despite being in the middle of humid Texas. While most SXSW sets feel like skin and bones basic sets, Prince pulled out all the stops and all the hits. Pretty much anything you wanted him to perform, he did. Sadly, there aren’t any photos to document his performance. There was a strict no camera policy — even cell phone photography was prohibited. Alas, guess I’ll just have to rely on spectacular memories of yet another wonderful ending to another year of SXSW.