SXSW 2015 Day 2: Ryn Weaver, Kate Tempest, Gengahr, Songhoy Blues

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Ryn Weaver

I started my musical day with two very different female artists.

Ryn Weaver became instantly buzzworthy with the overnight success of her debut single “Octahate“, which has racked up more than 3 million listens on Soundcloud.

Earlier this week, she announced that her debut album “The Fool” is due in June and the title track was the highlight of her set at the Spotify House.

She has a cool name, a great look, a hit song and a charming personality.

She politely engaged the audience, mentioning how she’s never played in the daytime before and asking if anyone knows her music (knowing very well what the answer would be).

British MC Kate Tempest, on the other hand, was ready to start some trouble.

Before the last song of her set, she got everyone riled up about the state of the world, repeating “more empathy, less greed”, adding “I’m not preaching at you, I’m asking for your fucking help.” It was a rare call to action at a festival that shows little attention to the deeper issues of the day.

I was posted up 10 feet outside the venue and her plea still hit me hard and her energy as a performer easily reached the other side of the street.

She’s raw and unwavering, not surprising for an artist who won a prestigious poetry award just a few years back.

Gengahr
Gengahr

I arrived early at Buffalo Billiards and happened upon a band I’ve never heard of before called Gengahr.

At first, I thought it was a female singing, only to find out it was the transfixing falsetto of Felix Bushe.

Live, his voice falls somewhere between Anthony Hegarty and Jeff Buckley. They seem to have quite a bit of buzz in their native UK. For fans of Alt-J and Glass Animals.

Songhoy Blues
Songhoy Blues

Songhoy Blues were at the top of my list of bands to see at SXSW.

They’ve overcome so much, that the fact they are even playing the festival is nothing short of incredible.

They were forced to flee Northern Mali when it was taken over by Islamic extremists who threatened violence to anyone who played music.

In the end, music saved them and their performance is infused with a special kind of energy and joy, with guitar riffs that move easily from traditional Saharan blues to Stevie Ray Vaughan solos and even some Chuck Berry vibes.

They are a must-see band if there ever was one.

RR