Food poisoning can’t stop Sylvan Esso from playing to fans in an alley at SXSW

Electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso had already made it through about two-thirds of their South by Southwest set Friday night, when singer Amelia Meath dropped a bombshell.

“Guys, I have food poisoning,” Meath said at Lustre Pearl. “I threw up on Sixth Street at 11 this morning. It was just Bloody Mary. … You’re the only people I’ve seen all day.”

(Sean Collins Walsh/American-Statesman)

Meath’s bandmate, synth player Nick Sanborn, called Meath a “(expletive) champion.” If you watched the pair’s set at the M&Ms Sound & Color showcase, you’d be inclined to agree. A little pallor didn’t keep Meath from glowing all night, throwing down her signature smoky vocals and crowd-riling arm waves. Meath put in a full-body performance — nothing goes with Sylvan Esso’s EDM-for-grownups quite like an Alyssa Edwards/”Black Swan” moment. Sanborn, presumably not saddled with food poisoning, put in a full body, back-arching performance while plunking away at that synthesizer.

In a SXSW year short on star power, festival veterans Sylvan Esso packed in a massive crowd. An hour before they went on, admittance was reserved for platinum and music badges, and that line snaked quite a ways down Rainey Street. A cardboard sign posted on Lustre Pearl’s fence said that the venue was at capacity, and people would only be let in on a one-in-one-out basis. Still, that did not stop people hungry for a bleep-bloop fix, and some fans watched the show from the alley behind the bar.

“This song is for you,” Meath shouted to the folks in the alley before playing “Coffee.”

Those people wouldn’t regret their Friday night choices, because a closing performance of “Radio” was a real barn-burner. Meath chewed into a particularly sexual line in the song involving the word “American” (you know the one, if you’ve ever sung along to it). By the time she got to the line “Do you got the moves,” Meath went full banshee, growling and stirring up audience members in all states of bar occupation.

Would that we could all put on such a show after throwing up.

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