When Chill Moody hit the stage Friday night at the official Philly SXSW Showcase at the Old School Bar & Grill in Austin, it was evident he had South By Southwest festival experience. The inventive West Philly rapper, who came from 56th and Lansdowne to the Texas capital's fabled Sixth Street, wore a "Philly Versus Everybody" T-shirt and saved his flash for the stage.
"I know better," he said. "Last year, I did seven shows at [SXSW]. You figure out that you shouldn't bring your best gear or your favorite sneakers . . . I've worn the same sweatpants for the last three days because it's only about the music here."
On Friday night, Rec Philly and What Scene? collaborated to assemble a genre-bending night of Philly-based recording artists.
"We sat down in a room and put together a lineup of artists that best represent Philadelphia," Rec Philly creative director Will Toms said. "We wanted to give them an opportunity to perform down here and network and have people experience the awesome talent that we have back in Philly."
About 100 fans assembled to witness the emerging power trio ill Fated Natives, who added some reggae elements to their catchy cuts, kick off the six-hour event.
"It's the first time we're here, and it's just amazing," vocalist-guitarist "O" Thompson said. "It was cool. We tried to experiment and the crowd was receptive to it."
The audience grew to about 300 when rising hip-hop act Ground Up performed. The North Philly trio's gritty tunes drew unbridled enthusiasm.
Adrian Garcia, 24, who traveled from Dallas, called a friend. "You have to come over here and catch Ground Up," he said. "They're the guys to see tonight."
How did Garcia hear about the band? "From a friend who was looking around on the Internet. He's here tonight and he loves them and I really like what I hear. Every year, there's Philly acts down here, and there's something about what they bring. It's different."
After an incendiary half-hour set, which closed with about 10 fans invading the cozy confines of the stage, Ground Up MCs Malcolm McDowell and Alexander Azar broke down the Philly appeal.
"I just think what we Philly acts bring to the table is what's real," McDowell said. "There's something to that. This was an incredible experience. It was the best show that we played in a while."
Ground Up is continuing to cut its teeth in clubs, but it's OK with the act, which includes DJ Bijan Houshmadinajad.
"We just got off of a tour, and sometimes we played to only 15 people in a room," McDowell said. "That's all right. That's what you have to do."
"We're doing whatever we can to take it to another level," Azar said.
The same can be said for the other showcased acts, from the quirky Champs to the established Freeway to the soulful singer-rapper Milton, 21, who moved from Maryland to Reading two years ago to be closer to the Philly scene.
"I drive in every weekend to be part of what's going on in Philly," Milton said. "I see so much potential - and now it's about bringing it to Austin."