SXSW Music: Schoolboy Q

Staff Writer

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It is 1 a.m. and Schoolboy Q has a classic performer’s dilemma to solve. The crowd at Lustre Pearl has been waiting all night to see him, and some of them are getting pissed after a DJ bluffed for an hour so he could get here from Emo’s East.

But Thursday has not been kind to Q, since this marks his third show in 24 hours. His voice is shot after a restless week of shows to promote his new album “Oxymoron,” and he may be coming down with a bug. God forbid he play a crap show, however.

So he makes a veiled threat to the crowd.

“I’m sick as hell tonight,” he says by way of greeting. “I could just end this right now and get some rest…unless y’all really turn up.”

Howls of mixed enthusiasm and desperation erupted, the DJ dropped the beat to “Gangsta,” and the crowd did exactly as told. So the show goes on, as it always does.

I will admit, I would have understood if Q had decided to call it a night, because he was clearly running on fumes when he hit the stage, though I cannot speak for some of the entitled scum that had been complaining even before the set. As a matter of fact, I kind of wanted that to happen, because no artist should have to kill themselves over a show.

But Q did not lose a step, and with the crowd going gorillas to keep him around, Q got a second (if not third or fourth) wind and pulled off an amazing performance, whether throwing out new material from “Oxymoron” like “Collard Greens” or old favorites like “There He Go” and “Hands on the Wheel” (a striking choice after the tragedy the night before).

It is a testament to the healing powers of music, and it was particularly evident during “Blessed.” As Q alternately rapped the hook and listened to the crowd sing it back, he seemed to take it in, and it helped him out, as the words floated into the night.