SXSW 2018: Pussy Riot brings out Chelsea Manning at music fest opening party

A few minutes before protest punk band Pussy Riot took the stage at the South by Southwest opening party at the Main on Tuesday, members of the band hung a banner that said, “Pussy is the new dick” on the back of the stage. It obscured the SXSW sponsor sign, “But I think art is more important than sponsors,” head Rioter Nadya Tolokonnikova said from the stage.

Meanwhile, in the audience, an inebriated young tech dude tried to persuade a sober female promoter that President Donald Trump is basically a good guy who’s like your friend who turns into a jerk when he’s drunk.

Pussy Riot at SXSW. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

Photos: Pussy Riot at SXSW 2018

She wasn’t trying to hear it. “But he’s not your friend, he’s the president of the United States,” she said dryly.

Minutes later, the band brought out Chelsea Manning, the former soldier who was jailed for leaking military documents to WikiLeaks. Manning railed against the prison industrial complex and called for international solidarity between political prisoners.

The crowd cheered enthusiastically.

“Traitor,” tech dude yelled as she was leaving the stage. “This is the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen,” he added.

The rest of the crowd seemed psyched as the group launched into a pulsing grinder of noise. Tolokonnikova, flanked by a pair of masked figures, performed a manic strobe-assisted dance routine.

The support team left the stage, and for most of the set it was just Tolokonnikova alternating between furious rapping and incongruously angelic singing and a producer on stage. Words were tough to distinguish, but the crowd was feeling the energy.

SXSW 2018: Photos, reviews and more

She brought back the whole crew for the finale, “Straight Outta Vagina,” an ecstatic rallying cry for women everywhere.

The ladies in the crowd loved it. It is unclear whether tech dude approved.

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