By Kara Warner
Jay-Z dropped into SXSW last year to perform alongside Kanye West at the G.O.O.D. Music showcase, but this year Hov was a one man show. The Brooklyn rapper put on his first solo performance at the annual South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas on Monday night (March 12). The show, “Amex Sync Show Presenting Jay-Z,” was streamed on YouTube and RapFix live-blogged the event for fans who weren’t able to tune in.
Jay took the stage shortly after 7:30 p.m. CT, dressed casually except for the gold bling around his neck and wrist, opening with “What More Can I Say?”
“SXSW, you’re welcome!” he shouted to a very diverse and enthusiastic crowd of 2,800. This was followed by familiar favorite “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” which featured the first of countless crowd sing-alongs.
As his most dedicated fans have come to expect, the man showcased his serious lyrical skills with a perfect mix of hits new and old. From “99 Problems,” to “Big Pimpin’,” to “Excuse Me Miss” (at the start of which he asked us all to “two step”) to the sweet and sentimental “Glory,” Jay kept the crowd hanging on his every word, manipulating our energy masterfully with mostly up-tempo tracks that kept everyone on their feet.
Ever the perfectionist, if Jay stumbled on a word or two in a track or didn’t feel like he was totally on point, he would stop mid-song and re-start, for which he had the crowd’s undying support.
“I don’t f— around with the words to my songs, y’all. You came to see a live show right?”
In addition to totally rocking the house, Jay seemed to be genuinely having a great time onstage. There were several times during the nearly 90-minute set when we saw him break out into full-on grins.
“I’m having a good time tonight I must say,” he told the crowd and then later showed his fans respect by acknowledging their energy. “Y’all going to make me crawl away from here tonight,” he said just before busting into “Encore.”
There were diamonds in the sky in Austin Monday night for sure.