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SXSW Thu Mar 13 2014
As the cornerstone of the City of Chicago's effort to attract talent and tourism during this year's South by Southwest (SXSW), Chicago Made brought together a wide range of local artists that handily represented the energy and diversity of the city. Until it was shut down. Here's what happened:
While I only caught the second half of opening act Probcause's set, his quick-fire rhymes provided a quick jolt of energy as the sun set in Austin.
Once ShowYouSuck took the stage he criss-crossed and jumped off it, working the crowd like a man whose mission in life was to get everyone to put their hands in the air and keep them there. They obliged.
As the samplers were swapped for guitars, the energy of the night noticably shifted and enthusiasm waned a bit. This largely-local crowd was probably drawn in by headliner Chance the Rapper. Still, it may be the magic of SXSW, but they remained pretty attentive throughout the evening.
Bouyed by an energetic performance by singer Gretta Rochelle, the dark, industrial pop of My Gold Mask held enough rhythm to keep heads nodding.
Young singer-songwriter Bonzie was not very well served by the outdoor venue, however, as her voice seemed to evaporate into the air above the stage.
Indie veterans The Autumn Defense easily smiled their way through the light pop rock you would expect from these core members of Wilco.
One of the best received acts of the night was Archie Powell & The Exports, whose wild energy provided a pretty stark contrast to the preceding rock acts. Thrashing between pop and hard rock they got the crowd swaying like a double shot of whiskey (or Malort).
A full-on dance party erupted as mashup master Steve Reidell of the Hood Internet criss-crossed genres, keeping the crowd guessing and dancing at the same time. Chicago turned out in full force for the second half of his performance, with ProbCause, ShowYouSuck, and emcee Hologram Kizzie (aka Psalm One) all joining him on stage.
The night's climax came when headliner Chance the Rapper took to the stage, easily moving his way through the dense raps and accessible beats of his Acid Rap mixtape. Even this far from Chicago, the entire audience seemed to know every word.
And they sang along, until the music stopped. Chance announced on the microphone that the show was being shut down and exited the stage. An announcer told the audience that they were over capacity and the Fire Marshal was shutting down the show. Despite some protests, everyone eventually made their way to the exits.
It was an unsatisfying end to an otherwise great representation of the energy and talent of Chicago's music scene today.