Down at South by Southwest (SXSW) there are two things you've got to remember above all: 1. Always RSVP, and 2. A cash bar is a sucker's bar. Free booze, brunch and bonus bags are par-for-the-course for 10 days during Austin's annual mega-conference—they're the fuel that drives a growing juggernaut.
For the music portion of SXSW, which also features film and interactive segments, we flew down to catch the hottest acts in hip-hop and beyond assembled conveniently in one place. Our first day in town was marked by not only a gloriously premature arrival of spring, but also a standout opening night performance from one of our own Artists to Watch, Dominique Young Unique.
We made our way through a throng of dangling lanyards and wristbands to Austin's famed 6th Street downtown for Dominique's late night set at Spill Lounge. The house wasn't packed but the audience was attentive: a smattering of early adopters who had likely heard tales of the teenage Floridian's brash lyrics and dance-floor igniting booty bass.
Dominique took the stage in grey cut-out leggings, a high-shouldered miniature leather jacket and strappy heels. She had a curly auburn weave that looked fresh enough to suggest she came to the show directly from a hair salon. Things kicked off with her new single "War Talk," and Dominique tore through the aggressive track in a way that was confident yet playful. The 19-year-old made eye-contact with audience members as she strutted across the stage and jutted her head back and forth. She boasted about her income and skills both on the mic and in the bedroom - pausing to dance whenever the beat compelled her.
In a move emulating the rock stars she undoubtedly wishes to become, Unique returned to the stage for a brief encore after stirring things up with "Show My Ass" and closing out with the future single "Follow Me." No one had left—they all wanted to see what was in store.
(Photo: Cory Schwartz/Getty Images)