South by South West is no joke, and Chicago wordsmith Saba knows that firsthand. The annual Austin, Texas music fest is a hectic scene, where artists may wind up playing 7-10 shows in a six-day time frame. And with the myriad appearances come scheduling hiccups, tiredness and occasional stage jitters.
With this year’s SXSW being his fourth time around the rodeo—but his first as an established artist with a full live band—Saba is allowing himself ample downtime and take-in-the-sights moments as opposed to wearing himself out. While kicking back at VIBE’s lounge at the Bud Light Factory, the loc’d up lyricist gives us a peek into how he spent his time off the stage (Hint: it involves eating some really good southern food).
VIBE: So how many times have you been down here to SXSW?
Saba: This is my fourth South-By, but it’s kinda my first South-By, because it’s my first time being an official artist down here.
Yes! This is my first time with any wristbands on my hand. And look at how many there are! Before, I’ve been just kind of winging it, just coming down here one some real impromptu sh*t, but yeah.
We’re really interested in artists’ times at South-By, and how you guys don’t really get to take a break like that. What do you do during your downtime, when you’re booked for back-to-back stuff?
Every South-By experience I’ve had prior to this one, so far, has been absolutely dreadful and terrible! I’ve been scammed on housing, and I damn near had to…we won’t talk about that…but, sh*t got real! I took a bus from Chicago before, and every bus I had to transfer to was delayed. This is my first time flying so…
Let’s hope this was a much smoother year for you and it wasn’t too overwhelming.
I think it’s just how much you agree to do. This year, I was kinda chillin. I had four shows in total, it’s not bad at all. I got hella downtime. It’s just the standing is the thing. It’s a lot of standing, that’s the real thing about South-By. Just walking up and down 6th [Street], looking for something to do. Especially in groups, everybody wanna do something else, but y’all don’t wanna break up and sh*t. I have enough downtime to where I get to go see other people play, or we get to just go home for a minute. We’re not staying too far out, it’s like 10 minutes out. So, yeah, it’s good. It’s been a decent experience. But last year I think I played like nine or 10 shows last year. And most of the shows, where I was doing 10-15 minute sets, and then just running to to the next show. 10, 15 minutes, run to the next one. But it’s kind of what you sign up for. It’s a switch you’re willing to take on basically.
Yeah. Who are you most excited to go see while here, or that you maybe already saw?
I saw Anderson .Paak yesterday. He killed that sh*t. He killed that shit.
Did you talk to him yet?
Not for real! Not for real. We’ve DM’ed before. It is Twitter official! We do follow each other on Twitter but we haven’t met yet!
He’s coming by today so…
We’ll see! Uh, but, who else? I don’t know. If I could get into a Young Thug show…I seen Kehlani yesterday, she killed that sh*t.
Young Thug is at the Calvin Klein/Urban Outfitters party.
Alright, so I’m gonna ask them if that’s a possibility. But, I don’t know, I’m kind of just here! Like I said, this is my first time ever having a band. So I haven’t been able to go to anything here ever, for real for real. So, I’m just kinda going with the flow. Seeing where I end up. [laughs]
Nice. Last question, and the most important one, what’s the best thing you’ve eaten so far?
Oh, I got this! I got this. Gus’s World Famous Chicken. I just had this sh*t like two seconds before I came here, that’s where we were at. Last year, I ate that sh*t every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s on San Jacinto. And that sh*t is raw. They just got one in Chicago, I didn’t know. It’s been there for, like, a year. But, when I get back to the crib, I’mma go check it out.
What if it’s not the same?
It probably won’t be! It’s never the same. But, if it’s close, then I’m decent.