Is a party truly complete before Miley Cyrus shows up? Revelers at SXSW’s Fader Fort on Thursday night didn’t have to ponder that question for long. As much fun as everyone was already having at Atlanta producer Mike Will Made It’s star-spangled showcase, Cyrus made the night that much more sparkly when she closed out the night with a surprise guest set.
She had the crowd in her palm from the moment she walked out and began rapping her verse from the producer’s “23.” She played her trump card next, sending the room into rowdy raptures with a performance of “We Can’t Stop” that showed off her legit impressive vocal power. It also raised the question of whether enough time has passed for us to be nostalgic for the summer of 2013, that carefree season of red cups, sweaty bodies and barely disguised drug references in pop songs. Time waits for no one, but “We Can’t Stop” is forever. Finally, she stayed onstage as Will’s young protégés Rae Sremmurd sent us off with their irresistibly catchy “Throw Sum Mo.” Cyrus rapped along to some of Nicki Minaj’s recorded hook, as much a fan as a star.
Even before the crowning surprise of Cyrus’ appearance, the night had been an emphatic demonstration of Will’s impact on pop and rap music alike in recent years. First Will brought out human cartoon Riff Raff, who performed his winning verse from “Choppin’ Blades” while sporting an unseasonably warm Russian ushanka hat. (Riff Raff has expressed his belief that the hat deserves a Rolling Stone cover; we are looking into the matter.) Then came Rae Sremmurd, shooting off confetti cannons and super soakers into the crowd and delighting one and all with “No Type.” Next was Future, who defined charisma with his towering height and colorful fashion poncho, not to mention his untouchable hooks on “Move That Dope,” “Bugatti,” “Love Me,” and his latest, the anti-copy-editing screed “Fuck Up Some Commas.” Any night with that many back-to-back-to-back #bangerz on deck is a good one.