While perhaps not the perfect venue for the ever-eloquent Williams, the ultra clean SESAC Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center was the backdrop for the first of his many appearances at this year’s SXSW. Cloaked in a Kelly green sport coat and polka dotted tie, and flanked by a pair of musicians, Williams began with a fiery spoken word tirade that spoke, in equal measure, of both loving your fellow man and damning the country’s current political rÃ©gime. He is, after all, an artist rife with both contradiction and conviction, and both were thrust to the fore at various points during his performance, one that was heavy on “acoustic” (in spirit if nothing else) renditions of songs from his newly released …Niggy Tardust album.
“Fucking up in public has always, to me, signified honesty” he quipped, perhaps not surprisingly, as he tripped over and twisted the words to a few songs and needed to start them anew. At times he fumbled with an acoustic guitar and abandoned songs completely, but the mistakes only served to make his message(s) more poignant, his performance that much more compelling, and in an age of pre-manufactured pop and rock star posturing, Williams stands out, not only for his bold choice of words and music, but for the even bolder actions that accompany them.