Raury Brings Humor and a Hell of a Show to Hype Hotel for SXSW 2015 [EXCLUSIVE]
Early in his SXSW set at Hype Hotel in Austin, Texas Friday afternoon (March 20), 18-year-old Atlanta singer Raury made the audience a promise: "You're in for a hell of a show," he said. "I promise you."
He wasn't kidding. Over the course of 30 exhilarating minutes, he delivered a set as long on riotous, roaring rock and roll as it was on pure passion and heart. His music works a familiar but effective combination, matching grinding, boisterous hard rock riffs with emotionally naked lyrics; the combination makes each song sound like a mission statement, pointed and determined and, at times, fed up.
On opener "Chariots of Fire," he sang, "You condescend, you own the sky" before concluding "I'm done with being blind." The song was a study in the power of dynamics, screaming guitars chasing Raury's worked-up, insistent delivery. His run through "Higher," originally a collaboration with the producer SBTRKT, was tense and gritty, Raury delivering taut, bullet-like syllables at a breathless, rapid clip. Later in the set, guitars hammered away like a drill press while Raury filled the empty space between the riffs with tense, agitated vocals.
He was just as effective when the music was slower. On "Cigarette Song," his voice became lithe and fluid, snaking through feathery acoustic guitars and occasionally swelling up to fill the room. And on "Fly," another moody, slow-burning number, he sang, "I'm afraid I'll die… because I'm brown and young and my hair is nappy." The words alone were piercing, but Raury's delivery of them was devastating -- he didn't sound worried or angry so much as sorrowful and resigned. The cumulative effect was wrenching and powerful.
He also made room for a bit of wry humor. On an as-yet unreleased track, he lamented the state of modern music ("pushing it to radio, feeding it to the mind of the public") before turning his concerns inward: "I thought of being Muslim / But life's too short to not eat bacon." It was a punchline, sure; but Raury sang it like he meant every word.
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