AUSTIN, Texas (AFP) – The 27th edition of South by Southwest (SXSW) inched closer to its finale Saturday with a flock of big-name pop stars descending on the Texas state capital’s pulsating beer-and-barbecue fest.
Prince, Justin Timberlake and the Smashing Pumpkins were among the most talked-about shows on the final full day of the 10-day festival that celebrates innovation in music, film and interactive technology.
All three acts have been booked by major brands — Samsung smartphones, the revamped MySpace website and Red Bull energy drinks respectively — for limited-access parties to promote their products amid the SXSW buzz.
Celebrity TV chef Rachael Ray meanwhile hosted her annual open-to-all Feedback party with a raft of musical guests, including current hip hop chart-toppers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Some 2,200 bands joined the music segment of this year’s SXSW, from veteran rockers like Nick Cave, Iggy Pop and The Zombies to breakthrough acts like Britain’s Mercury prize-winning Alt-J.
Sunday’s closing bash features a midnight New York Night Train party with cult New York DJ Jonathan Toubin, who spins exclusively seven-inch vinyl records from the heyday of soul and rock ‘n’ roll.
In a surprisingly thoughtful talk Saturday, rapper and actor 50 Cent — promoting his line of high-end SMS Audio headphones — said branching out into business “has become the new music business” for recording artists.
“A lot of the successful artists you see have some sort of connection with other ventures that can generate finances to allow them to have the proper marketing and promotion to continue to sell music,” he said.
With his childhood drug-dealing days in New York and spats with fellow hip hop artists far behind him, 50 Cent has plenty of dollars invested in energy drinks, with a slice of the profits going to fight hunger in Africa.
Success has given him pause to reflect on his legacy, said the 37-year-old who performed at SXSW in 2012 alongside Eminem and whose new album “Street King Immortal” is due out in the coming weeks.
“Most people are conscious and would like to live life at the highest level … and I don’t think I want to be around people who don’t,” said 50 Cent, who has set himself a philanthropic goal of feeding a million people in five years.
Meanwhile, the film segment of SXSW wrapped up Saturday with the audience prize for favorite feature going to young director Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Short Term 12,” which earlier this week took the SXSW jury prize.
It stars Brie Larson — who had supporting roles in two other SXSW films on top of a short she directed herself — as a twenty-something supervisor at a home for at-risk teens whose difficult past catches up with her.
Best documentary in the minds of SXSW attendees was “The Short Game,” in which director Josh Greenbaum and his crew follow the seven-year-olds who compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf in North Carolina. Read story