Last night, Perez Hilton’s “One Night in Austin” was arguably the best SXSW showcase of 2009. The invite-only bash was was held in the East Austin “Dell Lounge” on 11th StreetÂ â€” an old grocery store that’s been converted into a venue, which housed incredibly high-tech lights and sound.
The booze was free, and the music was spectacular. It’s safe to say, The Queen of All Media has some major-league clout in the Texas music-making machine.
Arriving by 9 p.m., I already missed Ladyhawke, Margaret Cho and surprise guests, Indigo Girls. But I got there to catch Perez â€” wearing the pink-bow Aretha Franklin inauguration hat â€” introduce ThunderHeist, above. The Canadian rapper wore a bob flapper-girl wig and busted out a tight rhyme-spitting set that included her hits “Jerk It” and “Suenos Dulces,” which samples The Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams.”
Next act was Seattle’s electronia band Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, which had the booming energy of a Scissor Sisters show. All five members took turns on the mike. And just when I thought lead singer Shaun Libman, above, was probably queer, he started explaining that the song “Me + Yr Daughter” is about an old girlfriend.
Then came the diva!
Solange, above, absolutely killed it. With a four-piece band and two incredible MoTown-like backup singers, Beyonce’s little sister owned the stage with the confidence of a young Tina Turner (without the mustache).
She played one of the longer sets of night, and the audience couldn’t get enough â€” almost 40 minutes of incredibly polished showmanship: “Sandcastle Disco” sounded better live than the album. Houston-bred Solange is quite different from her sibling: unafraid to drop F bombs and sing songs about smoking herb.
She even threw a funny diva tantrum. The only technical mishap happened when her mike cut out, so Solange started singing, “Mister, Mister Soundman. Get your shit together.”
After climbing on the speaker towers, she leapt off the stage and sang with her ever-appreciative diva worshipers in the crowd. When she climbed back onstage, she said, “Damn! One of you motherfuckers busted my lip!”
Before leaving, she just threw her microphone on the floor. And then Solange and her backup sistas did the cutest choreographed pony-twist as they sashayed offstage.
Backstage was a labyrinth of “special access” VIP areas. At one point, Juliette Lewis, above, stopped in for a quick photo to plug her new band and mention that she just wrapped “Whip It!” the Drew Barrymoore and Ellen Page movie about Texas womens roller derby.
Then Perez got onstage with his BlackBerry to tell the crowd, “That cunt! Lady Sovereign just told me that she’s not coming. She says she’s sick.”
Interestingly, I had just ran into Lady S.O.V. the night before at an excellent female emcee show at Club DeVil. Her ladyship blasted through a terrific four-song set, but between chain smoking and downing a 40-ounce of Old English 800, the “biggest midget in the game” told me that her voice was a little scratchy.
Next up was Brit-pop act Little Boots, above. And that cute Victoria Hesketh is poised to be the next Kylie Minogue. Her Giorgio Moroder-ish electro set included “Stuck on Repeat” and “Meddle.” And somehow, I ended up catching the jingle-bell tambourine that Victoria threw in the audience.
But Perez surprised even Victoria when he welcomed Kid Cudi onto the stage. Perez had recently posted a video of Victoria covering Cudi’s “Day ‘N’ Night,” and so they performed an impromptu cover together, which was really sweet.
“Just giving you all some South By Southwest magic tonight,” Perez told his merrily drunk fans.
A few years ago, who would have predicted that a gay blogger would produce one of the most incredible nights at SXSW?
What will he do next year?
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