Fiona Apple, The-Dream, And More At SXSW Day One (With Video Of Two New Fiona Apple Songs)
If you're familiar with chaos theory, which in its basic form is the attempt to find patterns in this planet's many happenings, then you may understand the difficulty that comes with describing a full day at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. To break down the chaos, a few of Village Voice Media's music editors have selected their favorite moments from SXSW's first day. Find 'em below.
Craig Hlavaty Fiona Apple.
Fiona Apple, "Every Single Night"
Fiona Apple - Stubb's BBQ
I got goosebumps at least three times during Fiona Apple's set at Stubb's, mainly because I have the clearest memories of every aspect of Tidal, her 1996 debut: The cover, the lyrics, the time. 1997 was a bad year for me, and that album somehow steadied, since it was ostensibly about a breakup/heartbreak. Seeing her play "Criminal," "Sleep to Dream" and "Carrion" 15 years later made me look back at 18-year-old me with wonder. Was I really ever that morose? Yes, but 2012 Fiona Apple doesn't seem to be, though she looked like she still might cut a bitch. She played a few new songs from her upcoming album, The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, and even though she didn't play piano that much, "I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up" from "Paper Bag" still hit as hard now as it did then. Following her set was the wonderful Sharon Van Etten, whose songs of heartbreak might be thought of with the same fondness by this generation.
Fiona Apple, "Anything We Want"
Fiona Apple - Stubb's BBQ
Fiona Apple's set at Stubb's last night was the first hot ticket of this young SXSW, with lines wrapping around the venue. Opening with "Fast As You Can," Apple's first show outside Los Angeles in quite a while was rickety in places, and her voice was a gravelly wonder (it now evokes that of Tom Waits). But Apple has never been a smooth and silky act, nor is she a pop singer; she's a poet in the vein of Leonard Cohen or Laura Nyro. The years have been kind to her older material, while cuts from her upcoming album were rawmuch more raw than her debut.
It's been fifteen years since 1996's Tidal and its wave of adulation, and half a decade since Extraordinary Machine, but she's still compelling onstage, minus the technical difficulties. Closing with her now-eternal "Criminal," Apple proved that she's "back," although how long her return will last remains to be seen.