Planet Rock

Austin, Texas, SXSW 2005

Devin the Dude

Back Room, Wednesday, March 16/Austin Music Hall, Saturday, March 19

"Steady getting blowed," Devin the Dude exhaled a breath of rap nuance so flavored with "sticky green, frosted leaves" that the Back Room saturated itself in a dank haze. Sandwiched between sets by Paul Wall's Swishahouse and Bun B's Mddl Fingz, the Rap-a-Lot veteran rolled classic cuts including "Do What You Wanna Do," "Like a Sweet," "Boo Boo'n," "Doobie Ashtray," "Fuck Faces," and "Fuck You" into one big cigar shell. Joined by Jugg Mugg and Rob Quest of the Odd Squad for renditions of "Fa Sho" and "Just Tryna Live," Devin augmented a decadelong career of underground hits with selections from 2004's To tha X-Treme. As singer Erica Martin donned the role of muse, Devin acted out the interplay of "Too Cute" with romantic vulnerability. The trance that came over the audience when "Anything" swung into its hypnotic pace signaled the dedication Devin fans reserve for their most blunted rhyming hero. Reciting verses like mantras, the Back Room massive proved that an artist need not go platinum to play pied piper to a loyal following. At the Austin Music Hall on Saturday night, Devin's set opening Erykah Badu's showcase was truncated after only two songs. Whether it was a scheduling snafu or the presence of too much smoking onstage that caused the abbreviated performance was not specified. Either way, the buzz initiated by Wednesday night's showcase was intense enough to linger throughout the weekend.

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