You know that old Texas saying, “Keep Austin weird”?
Well, Prince really helped that cause on Saturday night, when he took his massive band to Austin’s La Zona Rosa for the Samsung Galaxy showcase: they wore animal caps, danced with a circus ringleader, and capped off a long week of SXSW mania.
Fans were so excited about the show that they arrived at the venue at 9 p.m. and waited for two full hours before even the openers took the stage. (That would be A Tribe Called Quest, who were excellent.) Then they waited another half hour while Prince set up. At which point they were treated to two and a half hours of crazy fun.
So what happened? Below is a moment-by-moment recap of what must’ve been a thrilling/exhausting night for His Purple Majesty. (The guy is 54 years old. So much energy!) Here’s how it all went down.
12:30 a.m.: A very tall, gorgeous woman, dressed in a pants-free costume that makes her look like a pink circus ringleader, walks out on stage wearing a gold Mardi Gras mask. “It’s Naomi Campbell!” shouts the woman behind me. Sadly, this is not true. “Please welcome Company Play!” announces the Lady Who’s Not Naomi Campbell. And that’s when the animals arrive.
12:31 a.m.: From the very back of the room, a string of musicians marches toward the stage like a New Orleans second line, dancing while they play. The guys in the brass section are all wearing fuzzy plush hats that look like animal heads. I spot a fox, a raccoon, a frog, and a bear before I realize that there are too many to write down. The fierce-looking lady back-up singers, at least two of whom have shaved heads, are shaking tambourines. There are 22 people in Prince’s band. 22!
12:32 a.m.: When they’ve made it to the stage, the horns blast, and there before us is Prince. He looks amazing. He is wearing a black, ’70s-style suit with a bright pink shirt and a matching handkerchief, and a massively chunky silver necklace that may or may not have been designed for ladies. He’s also holding a cane that appears to be made out of ten billion diamonds. It is blinding. The band is playing a song about bright lights and big cities, and Prince is singing “Something tells me this is gonna be fun!”
12:40 a.m.: One of Prince’s back-up singers, whose bouffant hairdo and black vintage dress make her look a little like Adele, launches into a fabulous, gospel-inspired take on “1999” while Prince mock-dramatically dabs his face with his handkerchief. He makes the best faces. This one says: Please! Do not interrupt the face-dabbing, or I will cut you!
12:43 a.m.: Prince sits down at the keyboard and plays some amazingly complicated jazz-inspired runs like it’s no big thing. Then he launches into a series of excellent Prince yowls. There’s the uh-uh. There’s the owwww-ah! And there’s the amazingly high-pitched heee-HEEEE! A few brave souls try to sing along to the howling and fail miserably. Most of us just let Prince do his thing, because he is Prince, and his thing is being awesome.