SXSW Day 1 Recap: Ghostface Killah + Raekwon, Oberhofer and Declan McKenna

Zach Martin, Arts Editor

After spending the day getting a much-needed tan and seeing how much free food we could get from downloading every random tech startup’s app, the #WSNxSW crew headed to The Mohawk for our first showcase of the festival. The setlist spanned as wide a range of genres as it did artists’ birthdates, making for a compelling crowd in which Wu-Tang Clan diehards mixed with teenage Oberhofer fans. Here is WSN’s scorching, Texas-humidity level take on each artist we saw at the show:

KB Jones & The Kontraband

This hip hop rock group from Queens certainly rocked out hard to their fluid fusion of genres, but their attempts at surface-level socially-conscious songwriting came across as cheesy and heavy-handed. They’re all very talented musicians, but not every song needs a shredding guitar solo.


Austin native Bayonne brought hypnotic, densely layered loops to the stage with some live drums and fun banter to keep the mood light. Often times an electronic set based purely on loops can get repetitive, but Bayonne switched up his sound enough to prevent that. Plus, he had the best moustache of the evening. He has only released three songs so far but his debut album “Primitives” comes out on March 25.

Declan McKenna

The sound and lyricism that came out of this young Brit and his loop pedal were surprisingly complex. Microphone troubles endeared him to the crowd immediately and he held onto their affection with his earworm melodies and voice cracks. The 17 year-old from London is talented beyond his years.


NYU alum Brad Oberhofer and his band were next up, and they went a little crazy. On every song, Oberhofer would thrash around on stage and narrowly miss running into his bandmates. At one point, he climbed a ladder to the upper deck and did a full loop around the venue before running to get back onstage in time for his vocals. Luckily, the melodies and song arrangements matched his antics perfectly and “Away Frm U”, the sweet, sugary standout track from his 2012 debut album, translated well to a more hard-rocking live setting.

Ghostface Killah + Raekwon

For the main attraction of the showcase, Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface Killah and Raekwon came out to perform the hits. They traded off verses from their solo projects as well as the songs they’ve done together, like “Ice Cream” from Raekwon’s album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” They also did classic Wu-Tang tracks and tributes to deceased hip hop icons like original Wu-Tang member Ol’ Dirty Bastard, as well as 2pac and Biggie Smalls. The notorious Wu-Tang fan-turned-enemy and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was noticeably absent.

That’s it for day one, y’all! Check back in tomorrow for coverage of Into It. Over It., Car Seat Headrest and more.