Lustre Pearl South, Saturday 6
In a year when the Texas Legislature introduced a litany of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, Pride celebrations have taken on special importance across the country, offering a space for respite and centering the beauty of being queer. A daylong fete at Lustre Pearl South aims to fit that bill. Kicking off Austin's Pride celebration early is the first annual ATX Queer Music Fest, a packed docket of music, drag shows, and the collision of the two. Beyond the two stages of live entertainment, there will be an art market brought to you by women- and LGBTQ+-focused Frida Friday ATX, lots of swag, and free body-painting for good measure.
Los Angeles-based trans musician and activist Ryan Cassata – whose song "Daughter" offered comfort to trans people navigating coming out – stands out with pop-tinged songwriting packing impact. Locally, high-octane electronic p1nkstar and hip-hop supernova Mama Duke are representing, along with sexed-up Femme Boy artist Caleb De Casper covering Lady Gaga with a special backing band including Oh Antonio's Andrea Ballard and Chief Cleopatra's Tre Pham. Upping the cohesion of over 10 more live bands alongside drag acts on the bill, Kara Foxx Paris takes the stage as Alanis Morisette with backing band Alaniz, while Banshee Rose brings la reina Selena with tribute troupe Las Chicas en 512. May we all get some joy.
Donnell Robinson, aka MC Overlord – Aug. 5, 1969-Sept. 12, 2018 – remains the Run-DMC of ATX: breakthrough. Youngest of six from St. Louis, Missouri, Big Don came here for college and stayed to stake hip-hop. In a BLM-challenged capital, his raps erased the color line. As a result, he ruled Sixth Street in the Nineties, an O.G. rapper with all that decade's rockist vein, "King of Rock" as well, to quote DMC. Deeply soulful funk and hip-hop unit 80H Project headlines a channeling of his big, booming spirit alongside Mumbai crier Nagavalli, the School of Rock House Band, DJ Crash, and more.
While Detroit's DJ Minx – née Jennifer Witcher – dodged radars, newbies to the Motor City's Movement Festival "discovered" an unsung hero. Those days are over. Minx banks deep knowledge from more than 30 years repping high-tech soul (try two years as host and engineer of Deep Space Radio transmissions, as well as EPs on record labels Planet E, M_nus, and her own Women on Wax) with a glow up to global stage prominence. With newfound pride at coming out after 50, she's an icon. Dirtybird crew stalwart and California bass master Justin Martin guarantees a muscular and melodic set with offerings from his new pandemic label, What to Do.
Strip down to your skivvies and dip into a cobalt blue New Wave. Italian fourpiece New Candys imports a mad strain of electric indie rock dripping with mod-European-style dark sunglasses and black leather – very in vogue. Their 2021 album Vyvyd drips contemporary post-punk in the same vein as Provoker and Death Bells. Fivepiece Daiistar provides a stellar local analog to the avant-garde Venetians with psychedelic shoegaze and trippy undertones teasing debut LP Velvet Reality, rumored to be released this year and previewed by a 9-minute January YouTube session.
Singer, drummer, and composer Bryan Carter carries a weighty CV, acting as musician, bandleader, composer, and orchestrator with everyone from Nick Jonas and Jimmy Fallon to Sesame Street. Don't forget the multiple-Tony Award-nominated musical A Strange Loop. Equally as important, Carter masterminds Jazz at Pride, a bridge between two communities with a long history of queer innovators like Billy Strayhorn. Joined by a 32-piece orchestra and local guests, while wielding new album I Believe, Carter kicks off Austin Pride with his first iteration of the show outside of Manhattan – in solidarity with a community under siege in the Lone Star State.
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