SXSW venues don't get much more sterile than Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn, a converted party/conference room at a dated downtown hotel, where the first few rows of chairs weirdly sat empty as Communist Daughter took the stage for their official showcase. "Thank you for not sitting there, because my family will want to sit down front," Johnny Solomon quipped, mocking the room's bad-wedding vibe. (The band reportedly had much better gigs later at the Filter Takeaway and Rock the Cause day parties.)

After arriving in town to play two shows Tuesday, indie-rapper Sean Anonymous looked nervous before going on stage following Rhymesayers star Grieves at the heavily attended Copycats Media day party Saturday at the Blind Pig. And I realized why once he started talking to me. "I'm losing my voice," he said. The conversation stopped there, but he still sounded unstoppable on stage.

• Lizzo brought up the tragic car rampage that killed three people early in her set at the First Avenue day party. "This is for all the people that just wanted to come to SXSW to have fun, and some [expletive] ruined it."

• The Blind Shake had fans shouting for an encore at their showcase-closing, low-lit set Friday night in the Volstead Lounge on Austin's east side. Alas, encores are allowed even less often than real sound-checks during SXSW.

As John Mark Nelson debuted a sophisticated, worldly new song, "Dream Last Night," at the First Ave party, his manager, Mark Gehring, reminded me that Nelson is still only 20 years old. But he wouldn't give me his client's drink tickets.

The Minnesota musician who seemed smartest about getting into other people's parties was Black Diet bassist Garrison Grouse, whom I saw at the Spin party at Stubb's and the big Fader Fort enclave. The young buck still has a few things to learn, though. Admiring my bright and gaudy but extra-comfortable new Nikes over his stylish leather shoes at the latter party, he said, "You know how to do it the right way."