AUSTIN, TEXAS – As the sun broke through the clouds to create the usual Texas spring swelter Wednesday afternoon, one of the new bands with the hottest buzz at the South by Southwest Music Conference reflected back to a gig from a few weeks earlier to remind attendees to soak it up.
"We were just in Minneapolis, and it was negative 26, so this feels good," said Katie Toupin, keyboardist/co-vocalist in Houndmouth.
The harmonious Indiana rock band was among the 2,300-plus acts setting up shop in Austin for the week for the 29th annual SXSW fest, the music industry's biggest hype-generating conference.
Houndmouth's first of six gigs in town was at the Spotify House, one of dozens of promotional venues set up strictly for corporate SXSW schilling. Budding Fort Worth retro soul-rocker Leon Bridges — a new favorite at 89.3 the Current in the Twin Cities — also played the Spotify showcase, treating it as if it were an old supper club with classy cocktails instead of a cheesy marketing hub with free lemonade vodka.
Still a great avenue for newbie music groups despite the mass marketing influx, SXSW isn't seeing as many massive names as in past years. Snoop Dogg will give the keynote speech Friday. His locally revered "Roll Me Up & Smoke Me When I Die" duet partner Willie Nelson is home for a few appearances, including "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which is broadcasting from Austin this week.
SXSW regular Kanye West is also slated to appear Friday on his old nemesis Kimmel's show. West is expected to perform an unannounced SXSW showcase. That could be good news for St. Paul rapper Allan Kingdom, who guests on West's new single and is in Austin this week basking in his newfound attention — and probably in the heat, too. See our full SXSW coverage at startribune.com/sxsw
Pharrell is officially a fashion icon
Pharrell Williams, who is fond of high hats and fabulous shoes, will be honored as a fashion icon by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The singer, songwriter and record producer was singled out for the Fashion Icon Award, to be bestowed June 1 at Lincoln Center, as somebody whose individual style has made a significant impact on popular culture. "If cool was a person, it would be Pharrell," said Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, in a statement released Wednesday. Last year's recipient was Rihanna. Johnny Depp, Lady Gaga, Iman, Kate Moss and Nicole Kidman are among past winners.
Honors: Paul McCartney has agreed to induct his former Beatles mate, Ringo Starr, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month. Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith and John Mayer will also usher in new members, the hall announced on Wednesday. The 30th annual induction ceremony is scheduled for Cleveland's Public Hall on April 18.