It should’ve been obvious from the start. The lineup at the Fader Fort Presented by Converse yesterday listed the ’90s alternative favorites the Afghan Whigs as the headliner, even though they hadn’t put out an album in 15 years.
Beyond that, the Fader Fort typically closes out their events with rap and R&B acts like French Montana and Rick Ross — not aging Cincinnati rockers.
Don’t get us wrong — we love the Afghan Whigs, and their solo set (following performances from Atlanta rappers T.I. and Future) was pretty great. But when they began playing the beginning of Usher’s recent single “Climax,” we knew the jig was up.
And just like that, Usher came out on stage and played his first-ever SXSW, with the Afghan Whigs. After he and the band finished up a particularly rousing performance of “Climax” (Greg Dulli handled the vocals until Usher came out in time for the second verse), they launched into the Whigs’ “Somethin’ Hot.”
Whigs fans were happy, and it even kept the Usher-only sect of the audience happy — though, really, Usher could’ve sang the alphabet backwards and they would’ve been just as delirious.
It was at around this time Usher took a moment to send out some love to Lil Wayne, who was hospitalized for seizures yesterday and was rumored among many misinformed SXSW-goers to be dead. “Lil Wayne’s going through a really hard time right now,” said Usher. “Make some noise for Lil Wayne!” Most the crowd did, though a few people were prompted to check their phones to find out what, exactly, Usher was talking about.
After that, he and the Whigs launched into “OMG” (we’ll let you guess whose song that is), and pretty much everyone in the crowd lost it. Even the many people still waiting in the line outside were thrilled, excitedly peering in through the gaps in the fence.
That ended the set, but after they left the stage, there was a sense that the audience wasn’t going to let Usher get away so easily. So after a long round of “encore!” chants, he came back out without the band — or, in fact, without any music at all.
Left to his own devices, Usher was forced to go a cappella on truncated versions of “Bad Girl,” “You Got It Bad,” and “Lovers and Friends.” It was pretty amazing — he’s a better beatboxer than you’d expect — and the fans were happy to lend their voices to the cause as well.
Check out both Usher’s set with the Afghan Whigs and his a cappella encore below: