The Fader has built a reputation in Austin like no other culture magazine as the creative force behind the Fader Fort, which takes place every year during SXSW. The event is everything you could want or expect from the guest-appearance-riddled, swag-fueled festival that has grown to epic proportions, not to mention the diversity and quality of performers that have graced the stage at the Fort. The show is always free, and so is the booze, so long as you’re on the RSVP list. In more recent years, this idea has spread out to other areas, namely NYC, in conjunction with CMJ, where the Fort has established an annual presence.
Even more recently, Fader has teamed up with Vitamin Water to sponsor a series of nationwide shows in select cities that seek to combine some of the hottest indie acts with some of hip-hops most celebrated. Last night brought the series to Austin. As usual, the lineup was hush-hush, though rumors had begun to trickle out via Twitter as the line to gain access to the show wrapped around East Austin’s Millennium Center. Serious props are in order to Lacy Maxwell productions, Fader, and Vitamin Water for being inventive and fresh with the location. I loved seeing the show on the east side and in a new and unexpected space. It perfectly fit the aims of the series.
As I made my way into the venue, I passed by the bank of roller skates over the thin carpet and stepped out onto the roller rink floor where the show would be held. On that kind of floor with the lights and DJ music, I couldn’t help but feeling like I was at high school dance, in the best way possible. Attendees didn’t have to wait long before Miss Info came out to introduce Sweden’s Little Dragon. The group immediately had the crowd dancing with their sleek, new-wave infused Swedish electro-pop. Frontwoman Yukimi Nagano possesses wonderful stage energy, constantly in motion, dancing, playing electronic drums, and shaking a tennis-racquet shaped tambourine.
The crowd got a huge treat at the end of their set when the group called Big Boi of Outkast onstage to perform a new song. As you might expect, everyone went nuts for the performance, and Miss Info later revealed that Little Dragon will be featured on Big Boi’s new album. The chemistry between Nagano and Big Boi onstage was obvious as the two kept smiling at each other, clearly having a blast. I think everyone was a little bummed that the collaboration didn’t last longer, but we were happy for the cameo all the same.
After a quick set change, Canadian DJ A-trak got the dance party started. He was certainly on his game, and the crowd was into it–for a while. No disrespect to Fader or Vitamin Water, because they threw a great party and I love what they do, but the crowd did lose interest.
Austin isn’t much of a house music city, and they might have succeeded more had they put A-trak first, cut the set shorter, or gotten a rapper to perform the second slot. Those who were patient did get the pay off of one more Big Boi appearance for a song with everyone dancing onstage at the end. I hung around for an encore, which seemed likely, but Miss Info came out and told everyone to get home safely. The night was a great party, filled with the fun provided by the shroud of mystery that Fader is so great at creating.
All photos below courtesy of Bryan Parker, The Fader, and Vitamin Water. Click any photo to open slideshow view.