SXSW Music Review: Clash + Vero Showcase

Star-studded rap stack croons, swaggers, and hooks

Sharing space with Stones Throw at the Empire Control Room on Friday night, the Clash + Vero True Social Presents showcase proved the more eclectic of the two. Running over five hours, the bill featured a wide-ranging stacking of velvet crooners, unconventional R&B songstresses, braggadocio bangers, and bubbly funk rappers.

Mélat (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Leading the bill with sleek-rendered soul and a fusion of African sounds, Austin’s own Mélat (Kassa) slid between tracks off her newly released Move Me II: The Present. From smooth vibratos, earnest croons, and sinuous melodies, her cadence traversed everything from bass-assisted funk rhythms to watercolor jazz.

Offering the same charisma and ethereal vox as she did on Kendrick Lamar’s otherworldly and Grammy-winning “These Walls,” Brooklyn’s Anna Wise evidenced a timbre that floated lullaby-like, emitting each note with a calm demeanor but bold confidence. Breezy jazz instrumentation and languid electronics complemented the effortless melodies as she unfurled cuts off nuanced opus The Feminine: Act II.

Riding shotgun in Future’s FreeBandz imprint, Miami-born spitter Zoey Dollaz (Elvis Millord) offered street-cred machismo and Southern swagger on the hard-edged “Blow a Check” and new single “Just Like That.” Compton-raised Buddy (Simmie Sims III) switched gears, ricocheting between free-form rhymes and soulful inflections as he delved into his Kaytranada-produced EP, Ocean and Montana. The rapper ventured through West Coast escapism, psychedelic beats, and romantic dancehall incantations.

Standout performance came from another Compton comer, quirky Duckwrth (Jared Lee), who explored the kaleidoscopic visions of Outkast and N.E.R.D with a twist of funk rock and electro. Channeling his inner Michael Jackson with a mix of romantic naivete, the Los Angeleno bounced through “Michuul,” while sleek synths and low-end bass rhythms propelled fluid grooves in rowdy rump-shaker “Throwyoassout” and Nineties nostalgic “Lowridr.”

Closing the night, Kodie Shane buzzed through songs off the fun and hook-driven Back From the Future. Foolishly, many left after Duckwrth’s set, but the Atlanta femcee delivered the coy, smirking “Get Right” and catchy “Normal” as if to a packed house.

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Clash + Vero Showcase 2018, SXSW Music 2018, Mélat Kassa, Anna Wise, Zoey Dollaz, Elvis Millord, Buddy, Simmie Sims III, Duckworth, Jared Lee, Kodie Shane

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