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SXSW 2015: The Six Best Things We Saw on Day Two


Though yesterday marked the official start of South by Southwest’s music conference, Wednesday brought the festivities into full bloom, as longtime favorites (Ghostface Killah, TV on the Radio) and new obsessions stormed the stages in Austin. Below, SPIN stamps our SXSW seal on the six best acts of the day.

Holiday Mountain
Much like Sigourney Weaver’s favorite extraterrestrial, electronic dance-pop trio Holiday Mountain has seemingly burst forth out of nowhere. But after witnessing their atomic live set, you’ll literally be rendered breathless — in this case from dancing, as opposed to literally losing your lungs. The ultra-magnetic Laura Patiño — who arrived at a secret SXSW penthouse show clad in a futuristic, flouncy silver skirt — welcomed her audience with buoyant, bubbly bouncing, high and clear vocals, and endlessly endearing hair whips. In short, she was the visual product of cross-pollinating glory-day Gwen Stefani with St. Vincent — and, given her gangly figure, Olive Oyl. With all the unique characters in Austin, it’s nice to see at least one who doesn’t have to try. — RACHEL BRODSKY

SPIN was lucky enough to catch two very different sets by the Belgian-born rapper-turned-superstar, one at the Fader Fort in the early afternoon and a late night headlining slot at NPR’s showcase. While the first set found the vaudevillian Stromae struggling to capture the crowd’s attention — to no fault of his own — the entertainer found his stride in the dark, contorting his lanky body in unimaginable ways while rapping entirely in French the entire time. On his biggest hit, “Alors On Danse,” Stromae threw it back to the nineties by tossing in a mini-cover of the 1992 Nightcrawlers single “Push the Feeling On.” Given the stage and the setting, the guy’s a star. — BRENNAN CARLEY

Chance the Rapper
Though he started half an hour late — and capped his set after only 30 far-too-short minutes — Chance and the Social Experiment whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his biting rhymes and incredible, bug-eyed stage presence. One minute he was grinning maniacally, the next shimmying across the stage like Michael Jackson on Flubber. No other act elicited the same reaction Chance did, and for good reason: Acid Rap cemented his legacy, but Surf, whenever it’s coming, surely won’t signal his crest. — B.C.

Seinabo Sey
Taking her experimental R&B to Palladia’s showcase at Cedar Door, Seinabo Sey greeted the audience draped in all black; sartorially, her wardrobe appears like a hybrid of Adele’s chic dark frocks and Stevie Nicks’ witchy gypsy capes. Grinning and gesturing gently to the audience, the Swedish soul singer incorporated bits of slow-pop electronica into her set (though, to be fair, Sey’s material truly falls under the “genreless” label), opening with “Pistols at Dawn” and wrapping up with her sample-strewn single “Younger.” Elegance, thy name is Seinabo Sey. — R.B.

Girl Band
A live performance of Ireland’s finest noise-punk quartet Girl Band is a race to see which of the group’s members can play their instrument to death first. Yesterday, it seemed like drummer Adam Faulkner was the clear front-runner to rip his skins with his merciless pummeling, but singer Dara Kiely certainly made Faulkner earn it, stretching his vocal chords to the point of complete rupture with his guttural shrieking. By the climax of their apocalypse-disco cover of Blawan’s “Why Their Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage,” it sounded like they might swallow the entire state of Texas into their vortex of self-immolation. “Best band you’ll see this week,” insisted the 50-year-old Irish dude next to me, the only guy going crazier for the set than I was. He was not wrong. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

Action Bronson
Less than a week before the release of his Mr. Wonderful major-label debut LP, Action Bronson took the stage Scoot Inn like a man ready to receive some long-overdue reverence and adulation. He’ll get it: The Wonderful songs sounded even better live than they have as slow-trickled leaks, and Bronsolino himself has evolved into near-deity status onstage: preening, posing, commanding, singing along to Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.” So heavy was the two-way emotion between performer and audience that the esteemed Queens representative came back out for an encore after the venue had already cut his mic — and even after his mostly inaudible coda, the crowd was still chanting for more. — A.U.