I split mid-way through Crystal Castles' set and head over to Stubb's, quite likely the largest official outdoor venue at SXSW. It's where R.E.M. played on Wednesday night. Onstage is an artist who seems poised for big things: Santogold. The Brooklyn-based artist came up as a songwriter/producer for Sony and also fronted her own punk band. Now she's rocking it 'like a classier M.I.A.,' according to a guy standing next to me in the crowd. It's a snide remark, but I think he means that Santogold, already entrenched in the industry, comes without some of M.I.A.'s baggage (blurry radical politics, occasional visa/tour issues, flair for using unusual recording studios, etc.). And the music of both artists shares more than a little in common. Maybe that's what the guy next to me meant by 'classier.' Or maybe he was just being a jerk.
Another artist from the borough of Kings, MGMT, takes the stage after Santogold. They signed to Sony/Columbia, which inked these freaky-deaky Williamsburg new wavers to a four-album deal. It's kind of a weird act to be gracing a major label, but anything goes these days, right? Also, when MGMT takes the stage, they look and sound more like a rock act. It's been a few weeks since I've listened to the album, but I swear it's more electronic than what I saw Friday night. But most interesting was the crowd. Call me crazy, but Stubb's seemed just as packed as the R.E.M. show on Wednesday.